You know the feeling, right? The feeling of walking into a gym, looking around at all of these super in-shape people slamming down barbells and being extremely discouraged because there's no way you should be in the same room as them. It's time to rethink that! The gym is for everyone, but not everyone feels as confident during their first few days at the gym. Here are a few tips to work around the initial intimidation so that you can walk into a gym feeling confident and ready to kill your workout! 

1. Go to the gym when there are fewer people.

This is a lot easier than you might think! Go to Google, type in the name of your gym or rec center (and location if there are multiple facilities) and there will be a sidebar with basic information. Scroll down a bit and it will show you the busiest times at that facility by the hour. Being in a gym where there aren't a ton of people can help make your experience there a little more comfortable. 

2. Whether it's music or an audiobook, have something to listen to.

There is an argument that you shouldn't listen to anything so that you can pay attention to your body's signals during the workout, but I somewhat disagree. When I'm not listening to anything during a workout, my mind tends to wander and I begin to look at the people around me. This leads to me comparing myself to what the person next to me and what they're doing, and I just end up so discouraged! Having something to keep your mind from wandering will help you focus more on what you are doing and less on what someone else is doing.

3. Start in the cardio section.

When people think about a gym they usually visualize super muscular people pumping iron in the weight room, and this is the image that causes people to be afraid to go to the gym. But a gym has so much more than that! Gyms usually separate their cardio from their weights, so start in the cardio area. You can get a solid fitness base here by boosting your endurance, which in turn helps strengthen your heart. Plus, some gyms will have little spaces around their cardio that are typically used for stretching. If you want to use that space for some strength training you can do that as well! If you can get your bearings here, you will start to become more comfortable in the gym and, slowly but surely, you'll gain enough confidence to try out the weight room! Look at you pumping that iron!

4. Find a buddy.

Working out is much more fun when you have someone right beside you! It can be very motivating or a small distraction from the burning in your legs (or whatever you're doing). Plus, it's a great way to have a little friendly competition between the two of you!

5. See if your gym has any group classes you can join.

Some people just aren't a huge fan of treadmills or the weight room, and that's totally fine. There are other (and sometimes better) ways to get in shape! Many gyms have what they call group fitness which is basically a class with workouts ranging from dance cardio to yoga and everything in between! Some rec centers do charge extra for that, but the fee can be totally worth it if you find a class that you absolutely love! 

Now you are fully equipped to own that gym!  Working out should never be intimidating, but rather a fun opportunity to create a stronger and happier version of you! As you gain more confidence in the gym, you will find it much easier to go in and kill a workout without feeling uncomfortable with those around you. Who knows? Soon enough you'll be pumping iron right beside the people that used to scare you!

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