**Disclaimer: I am not a qualified PT nor am I the only person who goes to the gym but this is all from my experience and if it helps just one person then that’s okay with me**
If you’re a gym goer then you’ll recognise the feeling, you walk into the gym (already not feeling it, because that cake in the office – had YOUR name on it) it’s packed full of gym bunnies, you’re tired, forgot your music and your sports bra hurts like hell. After 10 minutes you’re done and ready to leave, to hang your trainers up for another few ‘rest days’.
We all know the benefits of exercise, so I won’t bore you with in depth reasoning for why you should join or go to a gym. After all that form of exercise isn’t always for everyone, but if you struggle with anxiety (or just nerves in general) then hopefully this will help.
Joining the gym was probably up there as one of the best things I’ve ever done, its given me confidence and I’ve surprised myself with a hidden strength and resilience. So after 11 months of on/off going to the gym each week here are my top tips for getting the most out of your time there and giving yourself a head start.
Do your research before you sign any contracts:
There are millions of gyms all over the country and nearly all of them have different selling points, so before you rush out and sign your money away for the next 12 months, look into it. If you prefer swimming, look for a gym with a pool, if you prefer dancing; look at what classes they offer. For me, I looked at the facilities they had just for women, my gym has a closed off smaller room, which means on days when I feel nervous or self conscious, I can hide myself away and work out in a (usually) quiet room, no one can judge my form and I don’t compare myself to anyone else because its usually emptier than the main stations. You need to pick one that’s right for you, have a tour, listen to the contract options, because the biggest truth of them all is that if you don’t like being in your gym (whether its too busy, too quiet, doesn’t offer what you like doing) you won’t keep it up.
Wear something that makes you feel confident:
Some people love wearing sports wear/ gym kits (I am one of those people – yoga pants do wonders for my figure!), others prefer oversized tees and generally comfy clothes. At the end of the day, it won’t affect your work out, but if you already start off feeling confident you’re more likely to beat the nerves and stay in the gym. Try a few styles and see what works for you, you don’t have to spend a lot, just something that gives you that courage to get out there.
Never underestimate the power of music:
We have all been there, stepped onto a train for a long journey, sat down and realised we don’t have our ear phones, so its unplanned silence for the next two hours. Immediately the mood drops and what you thought would fly by is lasting for ever. Well the gym is no different; if you’re not keen it’s amazing what music can do. The average length of song is 3 minutes, which means it only takes 3 songs and you’ve done nearly 10 minutes of exercise. Make playlists, fill your iPod/phones whatever, it doesn’t matter what you listen too; no one else can hear it so you can be as cheesy as you like. Music can make the time go quicker but can help you in forming routines, pick a song that has a perfect beat for squats or a slower paced song for stretches.
Be prepared before you go:
Pack your bag, check your iPods charged and fill your water bottle. If you turn up and don’t feel prepared you won’t feel ready and then you’re more likely to quit. We’ve all been there, you go to start something, realise your missing something, think well I’ll wait till I have that and before you realise it days have gone by and you are still ‘waiting’. Be ready and just push yourself, there is no perfect time, the only time is now. So get your kit on, check you’ve got everything, perfect that plait and then hit the door. You’ve got this.
Remember, it’s not a competition:
It can be hard not to compare yourself to a room full of gym bunnies, but everyone starts somewhere. Whether you go and work out for 20 minutes or for an hour and half, you’ve still been. Whether you do more leg days than arm days or avoid weights like the plague, you’ve still beat that fear and made it. Turn your music up and focus on the fact that you’re doing this for you and you’re doing well. Everyone has their own issues, I’ve been in the gym and seen people sat on machines looking like they had the world on their shoulders and it was obvious that it was an uphill struggle and then a few days later seen them again making it look like a walk in the park. So just because someone looks like this is the easiest thing they’ve ever done, doesn’t mean they are better at it than you. Go at your pace and trust me, I’m sure there is someone who’s jealous of how easy you make it look.
Learn what to do before you go. Learn your HIIT from your hamstring:
If like me, you’ve never been too into exercise, you might feel apprehensive about what to actually do on each session. So before I started, I hit up my good friend Google and made sure I had some idea of the terminology, the latest classes/trends and then took to Pinterest for workout ideas. Now I can make my own routines because I have a better idea of moves and techniques. For more inspiration look at bloggers like Em Sheldon ( http://www.emtalks.co.uk/ ) who posts snapchat videos of work outs (as well as you tube, find her snapchat on: emshelx ) , it can give you a flavour of workouts you might want to do and you can tailor it to suit what you’re aiming for – whether that’s toned legs/weight loss or boosting that booty. Another good one is The Body Coach (http://www.thebodycoach.co.uk/ ) – he posts daily workouts on snapchat (find him on: thebodycoach ) so it can give you that little boost when you don’t feel 100% into it (and he’s cute too!).
Finally, if you miss a session, it’s not the end of the world:
You are doing this for you and no one else (although its okay to find your motivation in other people, whether you’re inspired by adversity, or the way someone looks or even if its just to prove that you can do it, when people have said you can’t). If you wake up and its just too much then don’t go, yes I know that once you’ve gone you’d probably feel better but self care is so important. If you need to take time off then do it, life is about balance, write that day off and try again tomorrow. Your body is still benefitting even if you just do 20 minutes rather than hours, so don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes we just need to go home and rest, sometimes we need to work out – balance.
As long as you’re happy it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, so take time off when you need it, but most importantly be proud of yourself, I know it can be scary but you’re doing it and no one can take that away from you.