It's nearly mid-January, and some of us still haven't mustered up the courage to step foot in a gym like we thought we would. Or maybe it isn't courage we lack, but motivation. In any case, visiting a gym for the first time in a while (or ever) can be a, well, interesting experience.
In a way, the gym as we know it is a marvel of modern society. It’s almost like a topsy turvy world—can you imagine what aliens would have to say if they saw us getting in the car and driving to a place where we pay to use strange equipment, instead of making use of the beautiful environment outdoors?
Just think about it: Everyone at the gym seems to be chugging along on their machines, deep in their imagination with their headphones on, pretending like there’s nobody else around. We expend our energy on a workout contraption of our choice—peddling, running, or climbing, but going nowhere. We get incredibly sweaty, with some people even letting out exasperated grunts or dropping their weights with a loud thunk.
It truly is a mind-boggling place, but at the same time, it’s pretty amazing. It’s a safe environment where nearly everyone's there to better themselves, and the energy is almost palpable. There's a reason why people love it—it's also full of camaraderie, high-tech equipment, and interesting characters. Laugh all you want, aliens!
Still, we understand why going to the gym may feel intimidating for many. Not to worry. Follow our tips and give it a shot!
1. DO let ‘em see you sweat
If you’re not used to working out around other people, you may feel a little weird getting all sweaty and red-faced in front of the others there. Don’t worry, though. Even if you feel like you look worse than everyone else, the truth is that everyone is in the same boat! If anything, it’s even more reason to let go of those thoughts entirely.
Try to think of visiting the gym as a liberating experience. Where else can you huff and puff, pour sweat, and turn beet-red in public? Once you bite the bullet and go for it, you’ll soon realize that nobody is worried about how you look—they’re only concerned about themselves.
2. Don’t let the regulars intimidate you
Maybe you feel self-conscious showing up to the gym during January because you think the gym regulars are judging you as just another resolutioner. But really, who cares? It’s none of their business anyways. You deserve space at the squat racks as much as anyone else!
3. Vary your routine
When you’re new to the gym, it’s easy to get caught up revisiting the same workout machines over and over again because you’re confident using them (we’re looking at you, treadmills and stationary bikes). The thing is, if you use the same workout machines all the time, not only will you get bored, but you're also not challenging yourself.
Variety is the spice of life, after all, and the gym is full of wondrous devices that make it easy to mix up our routines. The sheer amount of equipment can feel overwhelming, but if you’re lost, ask the gym staff to give you an overview.
Better yet, bring the 8fit app with you and do some bodyweight exercises after a quick run on the treadmill.
4. Don’t forget to bring flip flops for the showers…
We recommend bringing a cheap pair of waterproof flip-flops for the shower so that you don’t end up with someone else’s hair sticking your wet feet. It's pretty gross.
5. Take along your reusable water bottle
Most gyms have filtered water stations, so you can fill up your bottle and drink to your heart’s content, create less plastic waste, and avoid spending money at an over-priced vending machine. Be sure to add stickers to your bottle so everyone can see how cool you are.
Jazz up your water! Find out why drinking lemon water daily is the way to go.
6. Whatever you do, don’t forget your headphones
For some folks, headphones can make or break their gym experience. After all, you can’t be guaranteed that your gym will play good music or that there won’t be a person grunting on the machine next to you.
Load up your phone—or iPod if you’re rolling old school—with music or podcasts and prepare to drift deep into your thoughts and get into the zone.
7. Lower the bar and surprise yourself once you exceed it
The hardest part about going to the gym is actually getting there. On the one hand, you may have to drive or ride your bike there, and you may not feel like going through the stress. On the other hand, there’s the biggest battle of all: your mind telling you that actually, you’ll make it to the gym tomorrow instead. You've had a tough day, and you deserve to lay down and watch Netflix, right?
Here’s the trick: Tell yourself that you’ll be satisfied with a 20-minute session, and after the time is up, if you still hate it, you can go home without shame. Chances are, the 20 minutes are going to fly by, and you’ll almost definitely want to stay.
Once you get your blood pumping and get in the zone, you can achieve much more than you thought possible.
8. And remember… it’s all about progress over perfection!
2020 is the perfect year to start liking the gym. Going inside is the first step. The more you get used to the environment, the more comfortable you'll become, and you may even find yourself loving it.
9. Let the gym come to you
Hey, we're a fitness app, so that means we don't think you necessarily need a gym to get in shape. 8fit makes it easy to work out anywhere you are, whether you take the app with you to your fitness studio, or you just want to work out in your pajamas.
It doesn't have to be one way or the other. You can even have it both ways—as long as you're doing what's right for you and your fitness journey, that's all that matters!