The gym be an intimidating place

The gym can be a scary place for an exercise newbie. The gym can still be intimidating for an experienced fitness enthusiast walking into an unfamiliar environment.

Gym goers can become territorial and entrenched in their ways so much they forget the feeling of being new – you may not always have support in the gym if you don’t know what to do.


Adhering to a few general rules about going to the gym will help to avoid gymtimidation and the feeling that you don’t know what to do.


Some fitness enthusiasts get an ego pump at the gym by establishing their dominance over others through critical judgements. I was actually at the university gym doing some squat cleans when some arrogant enthusiast at the platform next to me decided to tell his buddies what I was doing wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working to improve technique through feedback – when the feedback is solicited from a source I trust.

However, this guy was unaware that he was critiquing a fitness enthusiast who has two degrees, three certifications and a job teaching exercise science at the university.

Don’t let the environment intimidate you

So I know a few things about fitness, yet still felt out of place in the gym at that noment on that day. Knowledge isn’t the only solution to figuring out what to do in the gym.

Before deciding what to do in a gym, figure out a gym that will let you feel comfortable. Don’t let the environment intimidate you and keep you from your goals.

Find a suitable gym

If you are looking for a general aerobics class, don’t try to fit in at the local high-intensity interval training box. If you are interested in certain types of exercise (e.g. yoga, Pilates, spinning…), find a gym or studio that will put you in a setting where you are ready to learn and excel.

To avoid gymtimidation, find the gym that is “the one”; a gym that will be the best fit for you.

Consider a personal trainer

Don’t make things harder on yourself than they have to be.

There are a multitude of options for taking advantage of the services offered by fitness professionals. Instead of trying to “wing it” and figure things out on the fly, decide what to do at the gym by consulting a fitness professional.

If hiring a long-term trainer is out of the question for any reason, many gyms sell package deals as a part of the introductory offer when you join. Even 5-10 sessions with a professional can get you going in the right direction.

Other options could include taking advantage of group exercise classes, which are generally offered at a discounted rate compared to one-on-one sessions. Plus they provide a great social environment to exercise with like-minded gym goers.


Get a training plan

If it’s hard enough to collect the funds to get the gym membership, let alone put out more for a trainer, consider training plans available through online sources.

Consider the expansive skills available through the WatchFit expert contributors, or the online exercise repository.

Follow your plan for optimum results

Unless you have a pretty high gym IQ, I would recommend always going into the gym with an exact workout plan for that day. Go into the gym with a mission, or a purpose. If you are prepared ahead of time, you won’t have any trouble deciding what to do at the gym.

Preparing ahead of time also helps avoid getting into uncomfortable situations where you feel lost, wandering around the gym aimlessly. A plan will keep you on target, which will keep you in control of your workout, instead of getting overwhelmed by all the options.

Define Your Goals

Fitness is such a broad topic.

There is health-related fitness, motor-fitness, then you have sport skill training…on top of all this there are a plethora of modalities out there to help you meet your goals.

With so many exercise choices, it is important to define exactly what your fitness goals are.

Not every exercise is right for every exerciser. I just had a student ask me the other day if a certain type of exercise was the right choice for her. I immediately told her that I needed to know her goals before I could answer her question.

Still unsure about your goals or what to do?

If you are unsure what your goals are, I would suggest going back to the previous point about hiring a trainer. A good fitness professional won’t try to hand the same exercise routine to every client.

When you decide what to do at the gym, define what you want to get out of your time at the gym – a fitness professional can help fill in exercises to help you know what to do to meet your goals.

Always be confident in yourself

If you are at the gym and you don’t know what to do, you’ve skipped a few steps!

First, be confident in yourself. Then find a gym that you feel comfortable in. You may need a fitness professional to help you with the details, but being comfortable in your workout environment is important when avoiding gymtimidation.

Next – through a trainer, or other resources – develop a plan that will lead you right to your goals. Your plan has to align with your goals, so if either one is not clearly defined, you’ll find yourself questioning what you are doing at the gym.

You control your own fitness, nobody else

Be in control of your fitness. Take care of the details before your workout, so you can focus on getting yourself fit when you go to the gym.

Don’t let not knowing what to do be an excuse that holds you back!

Read more from WatchFit Expert Justin Kilian

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And they can do the same for you.


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