Tap Into Health: Taming those gym jitters
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
I’m a fitness newbie. After having two kids while working full-time, fitness was on the back burner due to simply not having enough time to fit it in. I know you can relate.
It wasn’t until I was physically working at a world-class fitness center that I found the time to fit exercise into my life regularly. I say this to acknowledge that simply finding the time to exercise isn’t always possible for everyone, and any movement inside or outside of a gym counts and is important.
The #Move4MentalHealth community challenge by Steamboat Pilot & Today is a great place to learn the impact of exercise on your mental health while providing a variety of exercise ideas that can be done at home.
If you are ready to fit exercise into your day, and you think that exercising at a gym could be right for you, then I am here to help you get your first step in the door. I went from zero gym experience to now using it almost five days per week, and I know that it can be an intimidating place at times.
Here are six tips to tame your gym jitters from a fitness newbie.
Get a tour/walk through ahead of time
No one wants to wander around looking lost. Knowing where the bathrooms and locker rooms are, as well as where certain equipment is located, will boost your confidence when you are ready to exercise. It is a good idea to know where the sanitization stations are (and what the process is for sanitizing) and the water fountains. Ask for a tour from a staff member or casually walk around the space before you come to exercise.
Come at the right time (at first)
Peak times can be stressful for even the most seasoned gym-goer. It can be downright terrible if you are new to the gym, so do yourself a favor and avoid “commute times” for the first few visits. Fridays are typically slower days with fewer people, and Mondays are usually busier. And, if you can, avoid those first weeks of the New Year. Of course, avoiding peak times isn’t always possible, so in those cases, a tour or personal training session is helpful.
Remember that the majority of people are looking at themselves most of the time. That is what all those big mirrors are for. Most people just want to get in and get out quickly, and aren’t concerned with how you look or what you are doing.
Switch it up
Once you start exercising more regularly, you might find yourself sticking to the things you already know how to do. There are some intimidating-looking machines in the gym, and those can be easy to dismiss as “out of my league”. Guess what? All machines can be modified to fit your skill and ability level. If not, they wouldn’t be in the gym. Ask for help or do a quick Google search. Some machines even had QR codes on them. Aim to try something new once per week. I just learned how to use the SkiErg and Jacobs Ladder.
Come in with a plan
Even personal trainers and elite athletes get inspiration from others. There are a ton of free resources out there, but Instagram is my favorite because athletes often film their exercises. A video of how to do something is key and gives me the confidence to try something new.
When you have zero free time in your day, deciding to exercise can feel overwhelming. There have been many days where I get to work and feel like I have too many unanswered emails or my to-do list is too big. The key is to start small, with 20 to 30 minutes. That felt manageable, and over time, I’ve been able to add time as I’ve learned that I’m more productive, articulate and happier when I incorporate exercise into my day.
Vanessa Cory is marketing director at Old Town Hot Springs.
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