Four of the biggest misconceptions people have about the gym – and how you can overcome them.
Joining the gym can be a life-changing experience – I’ve seen that first-hand in my clients. They feel healthier, have loads more energy, lose stubborn kilos and become seriously empowered.
Take it from someone who spends most of her life in the gym: your fears are unfounded. Follow these steps and you too can reap the rewards.
#1 I don’t know what I’m doing
Of course you don’t! Learning to train is no different to learning any other skill in life. One of my favourite sayings on learning something new is, ‘You have to show up and suck before you show up and shine’. Even those strong blokes at the squat rack sucked at some point, too.
Lucky for you, gyms have lots of services to help you out and some of them are free. When you join, ask for a tour. Most gyms offer a complimentary session to new members to show you the ropes. I also recommend trying the whole menu of group fitness classes. They’re a fun way to experience new forms of exercise. You can even hide up the back so you don’t feel self-conscious.
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And of course, consider hiring a personal trainer, even if it’s just for a few sessions. They will teach you the key movement patterns, main exercises and correct technique.
#2 I’m not fit enough
This is the most bemusing reason for not joining a gym. If you think you’re too overweight or too unfit to go to the gym, how do you expect to change those things without, um, going to the gym? If you’re putting off getting a membership until you’re fit or thin enough, you’ll never get anywhere – end of story. Even if you don’t realise it, this is an excuse, not a valid reason. That might sound harsh, but it’s the honest truth.
#3 Everyone is looking at me
Feel like your curry-stained shirt and old shorts will make you stick out in the sea of beautiful bodies draped in expensive active-wear? In reality, 90 per cent of people are just like you: sweaty, out of breath and just trying to get through it. The other 10 per cent? They’re too busy looking at themselves to be looking at you.
Remember this: everyone at the gym is there for the same reason – to improve themselves. And if someone has time to look at you, then they’re not working hard enough.
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#4 It’s a temple of testosterone
This is probably the biggest concern my female clients have when they start strength training. For years they’ve shied away from the weights and stuck to group fitness classes because they felt intimidated by all the beefcakes loudly grunting and growling under a barbell.
No doubt about it, there can be a lot of testosterone flying around. Don’t let that put you off. Showy, sweaty meatheads are part and parcel of every gym. But please know that they’re a minority and have nothing to do with training itself. Most people just get in, get the job done and go about their day.
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Once you see that, you’ll be right there beside those blokes not even giving them a second thought. This is where headphones are awesome. Plug in, focus on your workout and it won’t be an issue.
There are so many physical and mental benefits to getting strong. It’d be a crying shame not to experience them because of some dude panting under a bar and checking himself out in the mirror beside you.
Cassie White is a Sydney-based personal trainer, yoga coach and health journalist.
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