Everyone has something that makes them uncomfortable; for some of us, that might be the gym. The gym can be an exciting place where you can face new challenges and break through barriers, but getting comfortable is an overwhelming challenge and barrier for a lot of us.
If you're in that category, and the gym is outside your comfort zone, don't feel bad! It's normal to feel that way. But if you want to take that brave first step and get into the gym, we have 5 tips to help make the gym into your comfort zone:
1. Pick one machine, workout, or class to start.
Don’t worry about mastering everything right away. Pick one cardio machine, workout, or group class to start. Take time to practice it and learn it well, and before you know it, you'll build the confidence to conquer the anxiety of trying the next new thing (you've already done it once, so there's no reason why can't you do it twice!)
Find a trainer or group fitness instructor and tell them that you'd like their help learning how to do this one thing very well. They’ll be happy to point you toward a good place to start or even go through how to do it with you step-by-step.
After a few weeks, set your sights on the next goal; this is a great way to stretch your comfort zone bit by bit!
2. Remember, everyone was a beginner once too.
As you first walk into the gym, it’s easy to find strong people, flexible people, and people who can run fast on the treadmill. You might even think that you're the only one there who doesn't know what's going on, and that can feel pretty intimidating.
But, odds are that a majority of people there have shown up not knowing what their workout is going to be, what equipment they should use, or how exactly to do a specific exercise.
So if you find yourself feeling like you don't belong because you aren't sure what to do, remember that EVERYONE in the gym was a beginner once too! Your consistency and effort to keep coming and learning is what will help you feel more confident showing up to your workout sessions.
Take advantage of O2's complimentary Program Design sessions from a personal trainer, and they’ll help you find your gym flow!
3. Be comfortable with your limits.
From professional athletes to senior citizens, we've yet to meet anyone without limits.
We all have something that holds us back like a history of injury or lack of gym knowledge - and that’s okay. Regardless of your limitations, it’s almost certain that you can do more than you think you can.
Always be sure to respect your body's physical limits. If needed, consult your physician on exactly what those limits are. You may want to find a personal trainer or physical therapist that you’re comfortable with and use them to help you work around your limits and, potentially, work through them.
4. Connection creates comfort.
Maybe the secret to feeling comfortable at the gym is to feel connected – connected with other people. Attend a class or workout and find a fellow member whom you can connect with over shared interests, goals, or even struggles.
You might even find a connection with an employee, group fitness instructor, or trainer – your connections with others in the gym can help this place become your new comfort zone.
The gym doesn’t have to just be the place where you exercise. It can also be the place where you can connect with new people who have similar interests and goals in your community!
5. Embrace some discomfort to help you grow!
After saying four ways you can feel more comfortable at the gym, it might seem odd to say "be uncomfortable", but remember that discomfort has its purpose!
Often in life, discomfort keeps us a safe distance from what we really desire. Think: How many times have you felt uncomfortable before diving into something new?
Some people might be uncomfortable about taking a certain fitness class, but once they push themselves to go and try it, that class sometimes becomes the one they love the most! Some people are uncomfortable with running, though being able to run is something they’re passionate about or want to be able to do.
Ask yourself “Why am I uncomfortable about this particular challenge?” or, “What joy is this discomfort keeping me from?” From time to time, let discomfort work a good purpose in your life, especially at the gym!
If you're ready to start overcoming your gym anxiety and turn this place into your comfort zone, remember that everyone was once a beginner. By taking small steps like these, you'll find the gym becoming a place of empowerment and support while you work towards your goals.
After all improving your health and fitness is a journey, so every brave step you take brings you closer to a more confident and resilient you!