Gymtimidation is a very real thing. Luckily I belong to a gym where lunks are just not allowed. Planet Fitness is the only gym I’ve ever been a member of, and in my opinion it is the best place to start. When you sign up, you’re given a full tour of the gym. Even when you start working out, you are encouraged to ask questions if you have them - a staff member will personally assist you and show you the correct technique for the machine in question.
At one point, I went to a different gym with a friend of mine. I don’t remember the name of that gym, and even if I did, I wouldn’t post it here. Going to the gym with my friend turned out to be a very overwhelming experience. There were so many machines. Everyone was lifting at least 5X more than what I was lifting. The reps my friends were doing were 3X more than what I could do. I kept up with them the best I could, and I was sore for LITERALLY a week afterward. And all the people! There were people damn near screaming their way through their reps. There were photographers, taking pictures of certain athletes. It was seriously crazy. The good thing about that visit was that I realized how happy I was at Planet Fitness. At the other gym, I developed a certain social awkwardness I’ve never had before, especially inside a gym. I was nervous. I stayed right next to friend. I wouldn’t go to a machine without her. And the worst part was, when I voiced that I was uncomfortable and felt like I was pushing past my limit, she just said “Oh come on, don’t be such a wimp!” I understand that some people respond well to the “trainer” type workout partner, but I don’t. Trainers are excellent if your mind is your only obstacle. In my case, my physical body was what was holding me back. And she didn’t listen. I’ve declined several requests to workout with her since.
Gymtimidation is very real, and unfortunately it keeps a lot of people from trying new things in their gym. Some people want to try a machine in the middle of the gym, but shy away because it’s surrounded by other people. Some people want to try a certain machine that they’re worried they won’t be able to do, and turn away because they don’t want to be laughed at for their inexperience. Heck, some people just don’t want to look stupid while trying something new! I’ve been all of these people. I’ve worried that I’d be judged, or laughed at, or look stupid. Most of all, I’ve been worried that someone would make a rude comment about my size. Luckily, I was able to overcome all of those worries. My method? Only try new machines at night.
I do this for two reasons. Firstly – I don’t want to be laughed at for not knowing what I’m doing. Secondly – I don’t want to get rushed off of the machine without making my technique perfect. If you practice wrong, you will perform wrong. Going during non-peak gym hours allows me to have the machine to myself, where I can figure out exactly how my body should be working. Once I get my form absolutely perfect, I allow myself to walk away from the machine. This method has truly worked for me! I have kept myself free of injury by giving myself enough time to become familiar with my machines. In addition, I can walk into the middle of the crowded gym and ROCK my machine of choice!
I encourage all of you to take the time to get to know your machines. Don’t rush it because you are intimidated. Give yourself the time you need to learn. Some people take longer than others – and that’s okay! It’s your body. You should be comfortable, at all times!
I already know what happens when I give up. I want to see what will happen if I don't.