We All Start Somewhere: Gym Intimidation and What to Expect

Posted January 26, 2021


Look at you. You have your shiny new gym membership, your crisp new workout shoes, a fun, vibrant outfit, sweatproof headphones, a towel that you bought specifically for this purpose, and a bopping new playlist ready to go. Your “before“ photo has been taken and you are ready for that first day in the gym!

Let us just start with the most important thing: you should be so proud of yourself for taking control of your health and your life. This next step is about you. For you. Never forget that!

Do not let anything as simple as gym intimidation stop you from becoming your best self!

When you arrive, there is probably going to be someone scanning their membership card at the front desk with less than ten percent body fat. She probably has defined muscles that you did not even know existed! You will turn to your left and see the most gorgeous man in the world running on a treadmill. The worst part is that he will still look like a model when he is sweating. A grandma who could bench press a semi-truck will most likely snarl through a bicep curl to your right. A group of teenagers in neon outfits will glance your way and you may instantly feel like they know every insecurity you have and are going to discuss it.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Your life is about you.

Every single person in that gym has experienced this exact moment. That grandma doing bicep curls used to barely be able to complete a set with a five pound dumbbell. Those teenagers are caught up in the era of confusion and insecurity. That man running on the treadmill used to not be able to run for one minute straight. We all start somewhere!

Here is the thing: every single person in the gym is there battling for their own health. Correct me if I am wrong, but is that not the same thing you are in the gym for? Some go too far, some do not go far enough, but everyone there is focused on bettering themselves and their health. Including you!

Every single one of them is a silent cheerleader. Look for the head nod from someone you see at the same time every day and never speak to. Every single one of them can be a resource. Even if you watch them do an exercise and copy it when they are not looking. Every single one of them is there to help. Whether you are asking a stranger to spot you as you try a new exercise or asking where they got those tights you like.

Remember: we all start somewhere!

Please do not be intimidated. You've got this!

So, now that you are in the gym, we wanted to share ten etiquette tips that make up the underlying knowledge of what is expected of you, but not always explicitly stated on the “Gym Policy“ poster, of your time in the gym.

1. Use headphones.

This may seem obvious, but no one else wants to hear your music, podcast, or audiobook during their workout. Plus, listening to your favorite music, or getting really into your #1 podcast, will help you zone out the world and focus on you!

2. Similarly, do not talk on the phone.

Especially on speakerphone. Do not forget: you are at the gym to better yourself. Just like everyone else is, too. Try to limit all distractions, for yourself and for others.

3. Carry a towel.

Not only will it provide an easy way to wipe off your sweat and keep you dry, you can also lay it on machines before you use them to help keep them, and you, cleaner.

4. Clean up after yourself.

Many gyms provide paper towels and cleaning spray. If you forget your towel and/or are too sweaty, this is absolutely mandatory for everyone’s health.
If you have built a barbell set, put the weights back on the rack. Everything should always be reset to base between users.
Put your dumbbells, mats, foam rollers, resistance bands, and other supplies back where you initially got them.

5. Do not stare at people.

As someone who zones out between sets, I can promise you this happens more than you mean for it to. No one wants to feel uncomfortable or watched.

6. Similarly, do not talk to people who do not want to be talked to.

Many people use the gym as an escape; read their body language.

7. The gym is not a dating app.

I repeat: the gym is not a dating app.

8. If someone asks to rotate with you between sets, let them.

Most gyms ask you not to rest on the machines, but rarely do people observe this rule between sets. If you do rotate with someone, the general etiquette rule is to also switch the weight back to what the other person was doing.

9. Limit progress pictures in the gym.

We all want to take selfies of our progress. Try to take them where you are not getting anyone else close-by in the frame. Avoid taking them in the locker rooms.

10. Respect personal space.

Exercising takes up space. Just because the next exercise in your routine is currently taken, you do not have to hover over it. Move on to the next part of your plan and return when the space is available.

When you armed with confidence, motivation, headphones, a towel, pride, and these tips, you are more than ready for your first day at the gym! If you have any questions on your arrival, the employees at your gym are ready and available to help you. Your gym family is behind you, and so are we. Be PROUD! We cannot wait to see what you accomplish!

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