For some people, sauntering into the gym ready to go hard on the treadmill or flex their muscles in the weights room is easy as pie.
But for others, the thought of stepping foot inside a gym and being judged by all those uber-buff, athleisure-clad fitness enthusiasts is a terrifying prospect.
A new survey from The Gym Group reveals that 38% of Brits have never been to a gym, with awkwardness (19%) and embarrassment (18%) cited as the reason why. According to the study, Gen Zers are most likely to feel intimidated, with 32% saying they pay for a membership but feel too awkward to go.
It’s a shame, because there are so many benefits to getting regular exercise, both mental and physical, and if you can overcome your nervousness you can reap the rewards. Here are some ways to tackle gym fear.
Try taster sessions
If you haven’t yet signed up to a gym, shop around to find the friendliest place near you. A lot of companies offer free taster sessions or day passes, so you can check out the crowd and see if it is indeed filled with uber-buff, athleisure-clad fitness enthusiasts – or actually lots of other kinds of people too.
You might be surprised to find that most people don’t care what’s going on around them, they’re too busy concentrating on their own workouts.
Go with a friend
There’s safety in numbers, so taking a gym buddy along – especially someone who’s a regular – will help you feel less self-conscious.
Together you can get to grips with the machines, try a class or go head to head with a virtual race on the stationary bikes.
Ask for help
The staff are there to help, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance, or just a few tips, if you need it.
Many gyms require an orientation session, which can be really useful if you want to know which machines to use and ask for guidance on how to use them correctly.
Book a personal training session
If in doubt, seek help from a professional. A personal trainer can help you decide how to use your time in the gym, whether you’re looking to build muscle, lose fat, improve your cardiovascular fitness or a mixture of all three.
And you don’t always have to sign up for weeks or months – one or two sessions might be all you need to get your confidence up so you can go it alone.