Walking into a gym for the first time can be a really scary experience.  The physical therapy centers I used to manage were located inside health clubs and many of our patients were simply afraid to come in.  They would tell me they felt like a “double out”—out-of-shape and out-of-place.

How do members of health clubs overcome those fears?  How do you get up enough confidence to walk in a gym and get started?

The Reality

If you’ve never been in a health club before, I’m sure your mind goes straight to pictures of beautiful men and women, in tightly clad clothes, laughing and lighting perspiring (not sweating).  They are busy telling each other how great they look—even though you can’t really figure out what kind of exercise they’re doing.

This may be true on “All My Children” or “General Hospital”, but the reality is that a health club is a place where people go to FEEL BETTER and GET HEALTHIER.  I’m not saying that there aren’t any tightly clad beautiful people, but they are truly the exception rather than the rule.

When my parents moved to Gainesville, I tried really hard to talk my dad into joining the health club where I was working.  He basically said there was NO WAY he was going to a gym with a bunch of young, skinny people.  Well, I’m nothing if not persistent.  I spent months droning on and on about the benefits of exercise and kept telling him how much better his back would feel if he went to the gym.  So he gave in and joined.  And were his fears a reality?   NO!   He wanted to know why there were so many old people in the gym!  He said he felt like a spring chicken and he loved it (not to mention his back got much better).

Understanding Your Fears

So many of our fears melt away when we figure out what it is that’s scaring us.  Once you know that, then you can deal with the situation.  If you think that everyone else will be in great shape and you want to “wait until you lose weight” before you join, please reconsider.  Nearly everyone has been in that same situation and there are lots of different body shapes in gyms.

As I said, people join a gym because they want to feel better and get healthier.  Joining the gym will help you get motivated and stay motivated to reach your goals.  If the machines are scary to you, hire a personal trainer for 3 sessions and have him/her teach you how to use all of the equipment in the club.  If group classes are scary, go with a friend for a few weeks until you learn the routine and feel comfortable going by yourself.

Be Confident

The stronger and healthier you become, the more confidence you will exude.  Confidence is a wonderful thing to have.  Confidence is sexy.  Confidence makes you look stronger.  And confidence can even makes you look 5-10 pounds lighter (great posture will do that).  So face your fears, take control and go get yourself some confidence.  You will never look or feel better.

Stay well and smile,


“Originally published in GO, GlobalFit’s online healthy living newsletter.”  http://www.globalfit.com/gonewsletter/default.asp