It doesn’t matter who you are, the first trip to the weight room can be scary. Here are some simple tips and tricks to help you slowly acclimate to the weight room.
1. Scope it out
If you’re new to the gym ask for a tour. Make sure you tell the tour guide that you’re interested in incorporating free weights into your exercises, so to focus on showing you where they’re located. If you’re not new to the gym, scope out the weight section from where you’re most comfortable. For some people this means picking a cardio machine near the weight section and people watching. See where the weights are, how people use them, etc.
2. Bring a friend
If you have a friend that knows their way around the weight room, bring them with. Ask them to show you some basic stuff. If your friend doesn’t know anything about weights, just ask them to wander through the section with you.
3. Ask a trainer
Most gyms give you one free workout with a trainer when you join. Ask if your gym offers this and tell them you’d like to see the weight section. Ask them to show you basic moves for arms, legs, abs, etc. Even if your gym doesn’t offer free training sessions, make sure to ask anyway. Tell them you don’t want to become injured and would like to see how the move is done.
4. Come with a plan
If you’re new to weight lifting start small – one or two exercises at the most. While feeling sore is an amazing feeling, being unable to move at all is not. Start small. If you’re not sure what to do, there are some great resources
BodyBuilding.com – Despite the name, this is not just for body builders, but for anyone looking to get into shape. They offer plans such as Jamie Eason’s LiveFit program, which is very popular amongst Fitblrs, and a database showing you how to do each exercise.
CutAndJacked.com – They interview competitors (figure, body building, bikini, etc.) and ask for their basic plans. Most break it down by body part, others alternate between upper and lower body exercises.
Write these exercises down in a notebook or on your phone or iPod so that you can refer to them later. Sometimes nerves can make you forget.
5. Practice the moves at home
As silly as it may seem, practicing the exercises at home without weights can make a huge difference. If the first time you’re doing an exercise is at the gym with weights you may rush through it. Knowing exactly how the move feels will help build confidence and ensure you’re doing the move right.
Headphones are the universal sign for “don’t talk to me.” They’re also a great distraction from the rest of the people in the gym. If you have an amazing playlist of all your favorite songs it’s easier to get in the zone and focus just on yourself and the music. Make a playlist beforehand and have it ready.
7. Find times when the gym is empty
Ask a trainer or someone at the desk when there are less people at the gym. This usually means less people in the weight room. It’s a lot easier to navigate when there are less people, and you have less of a chance of being unable to do a certain exercise because there are people using your weights. Plus, the less people there are the less intimidating it is. Knowing your gyms empty hours can translate into a great workout with less stress.
8. Find a class that focuses on free weights
These classes have names like “Body Pump” or “Weighted Blast.” Read the descriptions of these classes and see which ones incorporate free weights and general strength training into them. You can use these moves on your free time, learn form, and do so in a great group environment that is generally less intimidating than the free weight section.
9. Identify your fear
If you’re afraid that people are going to judge you, some of these tips may not help. Why? Because you’re prioritizing what someone else may or may not be thinking over your health and happiness. You have to reach a certain point where you accept that you’re afraid of being judged, then acknowledge that it’s a silly fear. Once you do this you put your health and happiness first.
Other fears involve snide comments, staring, etc. Having a plan and a great playlist can really help with this. If you focus only on yourself, your music, your movement, etc. it’s easier to ignore those around you. If you do not make eye contact with people they often will not talk to you. Even if people do comment on what you’re doing, it’s just as easy to tell them to mind their own business as anything else. Don’t let ignorant people ruin your quest for a healthier, happier self.
Once you identify what you’re afraid of you can make steps towards remedying this fear.