Pretty soon everyone is going to be talking about resolutions and working out. It’s that time of year. But most won’t be talking about the fear of it. That’s right, a fear of the gym. If you’re a complete beginner, chances are, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I’ve had several new-to-the-gym concerns when I had first gotten started many years ago.
“Where do I start?” “Where is all the equipment?” “Am I going to get in someone’s way?” “Am I going to look like a complete idiot?”
Those were just some of the actual things I had racing through my head. It didn’t matter if it was solo or with friends. I was just so uncomfortable and felt out of place.
Now, maybe that’s all just me, but if you clicked on this link it tells me you might have some hesitations and concerns yourself. I’m hear to tell you that it’s completely normal and OK to feel that way. You’ve just got to get in the groove.
I thought long and hard about those days imaging a barbell come crashing down on me with weights spilling all over the floor. Luckily, that never happened, but it’s terrifying to think about.
Hopefully these 10 tips will help you with getting over the fear like l did so you can get down to body-transforming business.
1. Spend a day scoping out gyms
If you’re going to be spending an hour per day in a place, you better be sure you like it. Take a day to check a few places out and talk to the owners. Feel them out. The people that manage or own the place really set the tone. If possible, go at peak hours (before work, lunch, immediately after work). This will allow you to see how busy the place actually gets. I went to four gyms in one day. Really put some consideration into their approach as well. Do you want group fitness classes? Do you like the idea of CrossFit? Mom and pop shop? Chain facility? They’ve all got very unique feels.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
There was a guy named Greg at one of the first gyms I joined. I didn’t know him well, but he kept in good shape and taught fitness courses at the college. Every once in a while I’d ask a couple questions. I soaked in as much information as I could. I recommend finding your own Greg.
3. Train during off-peak hours
While it might be a good idea to scope our your new potential gym during peak hours, it might not be the best idea when actually starting out. Those peak hours such as before work, lunch break, and post-work can be mayhem. And while your schedule may not allow for it in the long run, try and go at odd hours when the crowds are thinner in the beginning. It will be less overwhelming. Plus, that’s when most of the real hardcore-not-about-the-scene guys go so maybe you can learn some stuff from them.
4. Find your spot
To this day I’ll find myself in super-crowded gyms where I’m unfamiliar with the space and people. If you have a chest and back day planned that requires you to be all over the place, just slow down for a few minutes. Find a spot and do some push ups, planks, foam roll, etc. Take your time and feel it all out. Plus, you should be warming up anyway!
5. Pick a solid beginner plan
You’ve got to have a plan. Failing to plan is planning to fail. You 100% need a mission for everyday in the gym. After you’ve chosen one, learn and watch closely how to do each move. Got questions? Ask them! I personally like the FOUNDATION plan for beginners. The moves are pretty basic and the volume isn’t too intense. From there you can progress onto something like REDEMPTION, or the BULK UP. Or our newest plan for 2017-2018, the 6-week Unlabeled Workout plan.
6. Watch videos that get you all kinds of fired up
When first starting out there was a period of time that for 10 or 20 minutes before I planned on going to the gym I would watch inspiring videos to get me excited. Guys just killing it with some cool beat in the background. Majority of this battle is mental and that was a big part of getting me riled. (I remind myself of that every day. In fact, I made sure to have those types of videos created for EVERY workout program we launch. That way you can get as stoked as I did.) I suggest watching all of these: The Holiday Schedule, The Detox, Built for the Beach, and Redemption.
7. Build your most epic of all epic playlists
A great workout playlist is clutch. Similar to the inspiring videos, this is clearly a given. I suggest making a few different playlists based on the different genres you like. Don’t listen to your party or chill music. Listen to your, “I’m going to beat the living hell out of the gym today” music. I personally have a several different ones lined up for lifting days, running days, and yoga days.
8. Spend some cash on some cool workout gear
You don’t need to go nuts, but the gear you wear just becomes a part of the whole process. There’s nothing wrong with making it a little special. Doesn’t matter what it is, this is your world, get set up the way you want to. I personally like: running shoes (Adidas Ultra Boosts), training shoe (Nike MetCon2), sweatpants (American Giant Track Pant and Lululemon City Sweat Jogger), hoodies (American Giant Classic Pullover), and tanks (Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Tank)
9. Crush it with a friend
If you really think you can’t do it on your own just yet, that’s cool. A good training partner when first starting out makes things 100x easier. You’ve got someone to get through the grueling sets and reps with, but it can also help with getting acclimated to the social scene. (Yeah, there’s probably a scene of some sort at your gym.) Also: make sure it’s someone that’s down to really make it happen. A crappy training partner can kill you—and your plan. Check out this 3-day strength-building plan we produced for training partners with brothers Ryan and Eric Johnson.
10. Remind yourself every day why you’re doing this
There were plenty of days I didn’t want to go to the gym (and there still are). But the most important thing to remember is that with every single day you step foot in the place, you’re getting better. A 1 mile run is better than a no mile run. Three sets of 10 of one exercise is better than no sets of 10. Go at your own pace, the more you do it, the more you love it. But never, ever forget to continuously remind yourself why you’re doing it.
Good luck in 2018. I’m rooting for you.