Walking into a gym for the first time (part 1)

It’s the season of people walking in to the gym for the first time and being unsure about what they’re getting themselves into. I have been on my fitness journey for almost 8 years now and so it was about 8 years ago that I walked into a gym for the first time. It was not as much being nervous about the stepping into a gym for me because I performed the movements decently well. It was more feeling nervous about all the people around me that were way bigger than me and were lifting heavier than I was. I started off by doing a lot of cable and machine work and I never stepped out of my comfort zone to start lifting barbell, dumbbells and all the free weight stuff. Slowly but surely when my trainer started to give me more free weight exercises to do, I was forced to start heading in that direction. I guess the rest is history and that brings us to now. Now that I am in the position of being more experienced than the people walking in for the first time, I think it’s amazing when I see someone step up and try to be better and do something different from what they have been doing in the past. I guess and hope that’s how people looked at me back then and I hope that’s what everybody thinks and sees when they see someone new walk in to the gym. I am so glad that I walked into that gym that first day because I can’t imagine my life if I hadn’t taken that step. I know this is true for so many people. Since that first day I have walked into many of gyms as a newbie, whether it was because of my experience or just because it was a new environment. I know how it feels to be nervous about walking into a gym for the first time and guess what, so does everybody else. Everybody has to start somewhere and nobody ever started their fitness journey feeling like they owned the place they were walking into. I understand that my story might not take your worries away so let me tell you another story.

Everybody is in the same boat

I have been working at this CrossFit gym for about a month now and over the past month or so I have already seen over 40 people come in and say the exact same things. Things like: ” I will never be able to do that” or the ”but they have been doing this for years”. Yes they are absolutely right, not about the first one but the second. If they are talking about some of the people they see working out or if they are talking about us, than they are right we have been doing this for years. The people you see working out with the heavier weights or the members that are more experienced were in the same boat at some point, a year, maybe 5 years or maybe even 10+ years ago. You know what, those people might look at other people like ”I will never be able to do what they are doing”. We as coaches have the same thing sometimes and that’s because there will always be someone that’s fitter, stronger, more flexible or more experiences than you’re. That’s how the world goes round, so what I am trying to say here is that you shouldn’t let the fact that somebody is more experienced stop you from taking the first step. The first step in to the gym but with anything else you’re doing as well, you have to start somewhere and sometime so why not today and now? I have personally worked with about 75% of those people and none of them say any of those things after the first 3 sessions that we’ve had. This is because at that point they see that practicing something actually makes you better and more confident. It sounds so simple but it’s so easy to overlook when you’re facing something scary or new

Now some tips if you’re a new to the gym or if you’re thinking of starting off.

  • make the first step and commit, weeks, months or years from now you can’t believe all the experience you have gained and you didn’t even notice it. You can’t imagine starting that journey all over again and you will be happy that you started when you did. Trust me I have heard this so often!
  • Learn every day, you don’t just start off by being good at everything (in life and in the gym). start with the basics and try to soak up information about the things you want to know more about.
  • Ask for help, let’s say you want to do some more complicated movements than ask for help. Trust me all of the trainers love showing you how to do things and the more experienced people in the gym love showing off by helping you out.
  • be okay with being a beginner, you don’t have to outdo anybody when you’re in the gym. You’re training for you, if you want to be competitive than that’s cool to but work up to it and put the work in.
  • Keep showing up, remember that you said you were never going to be able to do that thing? If you keep showing up you will be able to. 8 years ago I would have never guessed that I would be doing handstand push ups on the regular. But I am so happy I kept doing it and kept showing up for them.
  • Be you, you’re not the other person training in the same room, you both have different goals and different bodies. You both have different needs and experience levels, so do what you need and your experience level let’s you do.
  • Do something that puts you out of your comfort zones, I am not talking about walking into the gym here but more about trying new things while you’re in the gym. When you think something is intimidating don’t just avoid it, avoiding things will only increase the fear for the things itself. the other day I was coaching someone that was so scared to do box jumps because she was afraid of not jumping high enough and hitting her shins. I believed in her and made her feel comfortable and eventually she didn’t just jump on to the box ones but about 10 times. Sometimes you just need someone to believe in you and you need to believe in you and push yourself in the right direction.
  • make sure it feels right, if the gym you train at doesn’t feel right because the people that work/ train there are arrogant or not nice than cancel your membership and sign up somewhere people are happy to help you out.

I hope my stories and tips take some of your fear and anxiety away. Have fun with your fitness journey, it’s not all about lifting the heaviest weights. It’s about you being happy with who you’re, how you look and how you feel!

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