Does this sound familiar?
You’d like to join a gym, but you don’t think you’re fit enough yet.
You’re worried that everyone else there is already in great shape, and you don’t want to feel uncomfortable or intimidated.
Well, the good news is: You’re not alone. Lots of people feel that way, no matter what age. Gym owners and trainers hear this all the time.
And the better news is: There’s nothing to worry about. We are here to help. And you are more likely to find friendly encouragement here than any judgment.
There’s Even a Word for It
Leave it to the media to coin a “word” for this feeling: “gymtimidation.” Just do a Google search and you’ll find everyone has written about it at some point recently.
Simply put, it’s the feeling of apprehension and fear of judgment when working out in front of other people.
One survey of 2,000 Americans found 47% felt gymtimidation while exercising around others. And 32% felt intimidated when working out near someone they perceived to be in “excellent shape.” Another survey in the UK found 1 in 4 women reported feeling it.
It’s common among men and women, and among people of all ages – so there’s no need to feel extra because of your age.
Tips to Feel Confident
Staff is there to welcome everyone, let you feel comfortable, and help you make the right exercise choices for you. They’ll show you around, demonstrate the equipment, and show you about the group training opportunities they offer.
All of that will help put you at ease, along with these suggestions.
- Start small and slow. You don’t have to charge in here guns blazing! You’re more likely to stick with it if you set reasonable goals.
- Be consistent, coming at the same time of day and on the same days of the week. Habits are easier to grow that way.
- Ask for help. Please! That’s why we’re here.
- Bring a workout buddy or find one in a group session.
- Come during off-peak times so it’s less crowded.
- Remember everyone started somewhere. And trust us, other people are thinking about themselves, not you.
- Try to have fun – smile at least once while you’re there.
- Remember your “why.” It’s probably more powerful than any butterflies.
In addition to your private motivator, you already know some of the great reasons why people over 50, 60, 70 or older should work out. Here are just a few of them as reminders.
- Physical exercise is good for your heart health, balance and bone density.
- It fights off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- It gets you out of the house and socializing with a supportive community.
- Being strong, toned and limber is helpful for golf, tennis, gardening and other physical hobbies.
- It helps you lose weight, look better – and perform everyday tasks with less risk of injury.
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.