I think as a fitness professional it is easy to take for granted how natural training feels, how common intensity seems, and how comfortable I am within the exercise world. As I step back however, I quickly realize that most people are not only uncomfortable in the "Gym World," but they are down right terrified of it. There are too many factors to name that might contribute to this fear, so I am going to touch on three of them in this post and offer some advice and hopefully some encouragement as well.
1. "Everyone at the gym is already in great shape and I will stick out like a sore thumb."
The reality is that many people at fitness facilities all over the world are in great shape, but an even truer reality is that most of these people didn't start off that way. Everyone's journey to health and fitness is different, but they all start the same way, with taking that first step in. It might be trying a new class, hiring a trainer for one session to see if you like it, or just coming in to talk to someone. Whatever the reason is, chances are that most people will see you and remember their first step in. After all, if everyone was already in great shape would we even need training bars, bands, or lighter weights? Think about it.
2. "I can't do any of that stuff I see people doing in those classes."
Sadly most people will never take their first step because they see one guy deadlifting 500 lbs. or a female doing pull-up after pull-up and they think to themselves "I'll never get there so what's the point in trying?" I myself see people walking down the sidewalk all the time during a class I'm teaching, their eyes wide with amazement and they automatically write it off as impossible. What most people don't realize is that 90% of our job as trainers and coaches is modifying exercises for people. Most people don't have a perfect push-up or they are unable to squat properly due to poor mobility or injury. Don't let that stop you. Most people in the classes I teach had to work through a detailed series of progressions over several weeks to get from point A to point B, they didn't walk through the doors knowing everything. We can modify nearly anything, just give it a shot.
3. "I don't want to hurt myself."
Of the 3 reasons I have listed here, this is the most legitimate reason for not being comfortable in the gym. In all honesty if you don't know what you are doing you probably will get hurt and we definitely don't want that. While I can't speak for all fitness facilities and private training teams, at TorqueStrong every single trainer puts safety and proper form as their top priorities. Hiring a trainer is always a great idea especially if you are just starting out. A trainer can teach you proper form and intensity and make sure that you are reaching your goals instead of wasting precious time in the gym. Obviously private training isn't free, but if you are going to invest in something, shouldn't it be in your health?
Don't let fear stop you. Take that first step and stick with it. I promise you'll be glad that you did!