Top Seven Tips for Enjoying Your Workouts
Ahhh, the gym: a heady world of loud music, pounding feet and sweaty bodies. Converted gym-bunnies wax lyrical about the range of equipment, sociable atmosphere and accessibility. But for others, the gym is akin to the dentists’ chair, something to be avoided at all costs. So what is it about the gym that fills certain people with horror? And can a gym-hater ever be converted?
“I’m self-conscious about my weight or age”
Walking into a gym for the first time can be a terrifying prospect if you feel overweight, old or shy. But most people are too busy puffing/ panting/ sweating to give you more than a fleeting glance. And rather than judging you, regular gym bunnies are more likely to be supportive of new faces– they probably felt overweight, old or shy at the beginning themselves! If you are still self-conscious, shop around for a gym or a particular class that caters for your own age group or fitness level.
“I don’t want to get changed in front of people”
Stripping off in the changing rooms can be a barrier for some nervous newbies. If you feel modest, don’t worry about it. While there are people of both sexes who are happy in the nude, being body conscious is a very common concern. If you don’t want to change at home, just bring a large towel with you to change under and walk to and from the shower in. And after a few weeks you will probably cease to care whether people can see your naked derriere!
“The gym is really boring”
Admittedly, the gym can be boring–unless you know how to keep yourself entertained whilst working out. Bringing (or dragging) a friend along with you is a good way to ease the tedium, you can chat between exercises and encourage each other to keep going. And there is a reason most people in a gym are plugged in to an mp3 player, a motivating playlist can make the difference between a boring session and a great session. Some people even bring along books to read on the exercise bikes, although magazines and newspapers aren’t nearly as practical!
“I don’t like looking at myself in the mirror”
Very few of us look good when we exercise… I turn beetroot red as soon as my heart rate begins to rise, and if you are going to the gym to improve your appearance it can be demotivating to see yourself sweat away on the treadmill. The simplest solution is to suss out a gym before you sign up- if it is packed with wall to wall mirrors then go somewhere with a bit more privacy. If you simply can’t avoid the mirrors, escape your reflection by watching TV or watching someone across the room (subtly of course).
“The groups of people are intimidating”
Gyms are often dominated by cliques that can be fairly intimidating. Usually clustered around the weights, these groups will spend their time eyeing up themselves or eyeing up the people around them. However, gyms are wising up to this problem and starting to separate the weights, cardio equipment and stretching areas, giving others a little more privacy. If you are worried about the cliques in your gym, try to exercise at quieter times of the day–the after work crowd can be particularly scary.
“It’s too expensive”
Gym memberships can be pricy, but there are ways to lower the cost. Always try before you buy! Most gyms will charge a set fee for a one-off session so you can get the feel of a place before signing up. If you aren’t interested in saunas and fluffy towels then look for a gym without superfluous amenities which normally charge less. Finally, check to see if your private medical insurance policy offers discounts on gym memberships. Many policies give money off certain gyms, as well as rewarding you for exercising regularly.
“But isn’t it unhygienic?”
Not even the best cleaning crew in the world can keep all gym equipment 100% germ free 24 hours a day, but there are simple ways you can stay hygienic whilst working out. Always wash your hands before and after a work-out, no matter how new the gym equipment is. If you need a drink during a session, bring a bottle that you can full up at the water fountain rather than drinking straight from the tap. And always bring a little towel to wipe down the machines after you use it–your germs could be just as toxic!
Armed with these tips you will be well on your way to enjoying the gym, so take the plunge and start introducing some exercise into your life.