Getting Over Gymtimidation: Tips for Newbies in the Gym

This post is brought to you on behalf of everyone who has ever wanted to start a workout plan but has been paralyzed by anxiety, shame, and/or fear. I’ve been there. I know how you feel, and today I’m hoping I can share some tips that will get you over the hump and into the gym.

In 1999, I was a freshman in college.  At that point, I’d spent the entirety of my life struggling with my weight. I’d been on countless diets and failed each and every time. I hated what I looked like and I didn’t have a lot of support at home. Throughout grade, middle, and high school I was so self-conscious about my weight that, besides a core group of friends, I never said a word to anyone. I didn’t go anywhere much and I didn’t try any new things. I was…embarrassed. I mean what if people looked at me? If you’re reading this post, then you probably understand what I mean.

My state college offered a “free” gym membership for students. An old friend from high school invited me to go with her one day and that invitation gave me a little confidence to give it a shot. From then on,  I took advantage of the services in regular intervals.  That leads me to my very first suggestion- If you’re ready to take the leap and don’t quite have the confidence to go it alone, find a friend.


three woman in assorted color sport bras holding and watching their smartphones
Partner up for a easier first time experience.


A little company makes most things easier. If she’s as unexperienced as you are, then you get to explore new things together. Alternatively,  if she’s been sailing the gym ship for a while, you’ll get a little direction on appropriate gym attire, activity, happenings, etc. In addition to lifting a little of the anxiety, a friend can help hold you accountable and offer comradery when you just don’t have the motivation to get out and get moving alone. I understand that it’s sometimes difficult to find someone on a similar schedule. In a perfect world, someone would always be there when we needed them, but that’s not quite the way things work. The next best thing is Group Fitness.


women s assorted sports bras raising their pink dumbbells
Group fitness offers a fun and excitement for both the experienced and inexperienced.


Lots of fully staffed gyms offer a number of scheduled group fitness classes each week to provide variety, excitement, and a social aspect to gym participants. When I first started frequenting the gym, group fitness was my jam! There was something for cardio, resistance, flexibility, and fun! In addition to a well rounded workout regimen, there was also a social aspect that kept me coming back even when I didn’t necessarily feel like working out.  You’ll find that most classes have a group of “regulars” that are friendly, fun, and accepting of new faces. Try it, you’ll like it!

Speaking of fully staffed gym, something I’ve noticed in recent years is that many facilities offer a free personal training session for incoming members. Yes, they will offer you training packages. No you do not have to purchase any, but if you do, this is a great time to explore that option.  That aside,  you will definitely learn a little bit about yourself in terms of weight, body composition, movement analyses, etc. and you can ask a trained professional ALL of the questions to alleviate your fears. I’ve done these several times over the years with absolutely no intentions of buying anything beyond my basic membership. I’ve used the information to compare where I was with where I am and where I want to be.

On the flip side of that, many smaller gyms offer 24-hour access to their locations even with limited staffed hours. This may provide you an opportunity to go workout during non-peak hours and practically have the facilities to yourself. I have not taken advantage of this option, but I have several friends who pay a little extra for a key fob that allows them access when the gym is “closed”. There are generally fewer crowds and greater opportunity for you to really get in there and work on your technique and build gym confidence.


I hope these suggestions are helpful. I’ve been in your shoes. I know the anxiety, the self-consciousness, and the cluelessness that can plague you. Go ahead, take the plunge! You are so worth it! Then, come back and let me know how it went!


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