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If you are new to training in the gym, I’m sure at times you have felt super anxious when you glance over at the weightlifting section. Beads of sweat form on your head and your palms start to get sweaty. I know this because it happened to me when I first got started. You usually flock to the cardio equipment because it’s easier to operate.  As you are walking on the treadmill, you watch the other gym goers flaunt their arrogance as they grunt and sling dumbbells, walking around like they OWN the place. The truth is, everyone that is now comfortable lifting weights has had their first day at the gym and has felt just like you do now.

You want to get into the unknown world of weightlifting, but you fear being judged or better yet looking silly trying to read the instructions on the weight machines. We live in the era of “instant posts.” When a new gym goer does something “wrong,” people are quick to pull out their phones to film it in hopes that the GYM FAIL video will go viral and add a few likes to their social media account. Instead of making fun of the person’s incorrect form, they should just walk over and help the person out. But no worries! I am here to help! I am going to tell you a few things you can do to lessen your intimidation and to get you started with strength training.


Hire a Personal Trainer

You may feel timid in the gym because you are uncertain about your form and workout program.

If you advance your understanding of where equipment is and how to use it properly, you will naturally feel better about working out with that equipment. Any gym attendant can show you around the gym and tell you which machines work which muscle groups. You should also consider investing in a personal trainer.  Many gyms have personal trainers on staff.  Have them show you how to use each machine.  Also, have them create you a weightlifting split.  An example split is below.

  • Monday– Lower body
  • Tuesday – Upper body
  • Wednesday– Abs
  • Thursday – Lower body
  • Friday – Upper body

Once that happens, have your trainer slowly teach you how to operate free weights and cable and machine-based equipment. If you don’t want to hire a personal trainer,  you can workout with a friend that can show you not only how to use the machines, but also how to have the correct form.  As a result, you will start to feel more empowered and worry less about others around you.


Go to the Gym in the Morning

Timing plays a big role in how you feel.

If you go to the gym between 5 and 8 pm, keep in mind that most people head to the gym right after work, which means it is more crowded and people are less patient around new gym goers. It feels like everyone is fighting for the same equipment and it’s harder to take your time during your session. Becoming an early morning gym goer is a great way to beat all gym traffic and have most of the equipment to yourself. This means there will be ample time for you to learn and play around with the equipment.


Find the correct environment

Not every gym is going to be the best environment for YOU.

When you attend a LARGE gym, it’s hard to determine if the atmosphere is correct for you. Perhaps the ample open space and overload of equipment make you feel overwhelmed.  As a result, a smaller, cozier gym may be the best environment for you. Below are some less intimidating gym options:

  • Planet Fitness
  • YMCA
  • Private Gyms
  • Complex Gyms/At Home
  • Local Women’s only Gym or Section within select gyms that are for women only


Go to a Group Training Class

Find out if your gym has group training classes.  Your gym’s front desk attendant and website should provide information about which weekly classes they’re offering Typically, classes last between thirty minutes to an hour and are full of super friendly, energetic  people who want to have a good time while getting in shape. Look for intro to strength training classes, so you can learn how to incorporate weights without scrutiny. Some environments even have dim lighting, and the instructors are very patient.


Remember that what now feels scary and new will soon feel more comfortable. Keep going and don’t quit. You can do it!


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