Say goodbye to 'gym-timidation'

Don’t let bulging biceps, tight spandex and complex machinery put you in a spin: here's our guide to working out like a pro.

Stepping into the gym for the first time can be intimidating, particularly if you’re confused about what to do once you get inside.

These tips can help you gain some confidence and motivate you to get fit at the gym.

“Feeling uncomfortable at the gym can be normal, and even the most experienced gym goers can feel insecure from time to time,” says personal trainer Natasha Dinneen. Before going to your first class or gym session, make sure you have appropriate gear. This often includes a supportive pair of sneakers, comfortable workout clothes, a good water bottle and a gym towel, all of which can help you feel the part.
 
The next step is to ask for help from the qualified gym trainers, who will be on hand to answer questions, provide guidance and write up safe and appropriate programs. Have a clear set of goals in mind and work with the trainers to create a specific program to meet your needs.
 
Dinneen advises having a few one-on-one personal training sessions for the first few weeks to learn how to use any machines properly and get comfortable with your new exercise program. “Be sure to tell the trainer that you want to start feeling more confident in the gym and understand how to use the machines,” she says. If you prefer not to choose a trainer, try a gym buddy – someone you know who already has gym experience and can help you learn the ropes.
 
Other options could be to read up on how to do basic lunges, push-ups, squats and dips with exercise books or a reputable sport and fitness website; or check out the group classes where you can follow the instructor. Perhaps start with circuit classes rather than the high-voltage choreography of Zumba or Body Attack!
 
It's good to remember that most people at the gym are too busy focusing on themselves to be judging you. 
ladies at the gym together

Natasha’s exercise tips for gym-domination

  • Check out gyms in your local area to compare which suits you best. Some clubs include health evaluations in the membership price, whereas others may charge extra for personal training sessions.
  • Remove most make-up – panda eyes and cakey foundation isn’t a great look – and tie long hair back.
  • At least one hour before your workout, have a healthy, carbohydrate-rich snack such as a piece of fruit or a slice of toast with honey or jam to help so boost your energy and glycogen stores. 
  • Sip water throughout your workout to stay hydrated and continue to rehydrate with water in the 2-6 hours after.
  • Always start your regime with a five- to ten-minute cardio warm-up before increasing intensity on cardio machines or weights program.
  • Do a ‘circuit-style’ workout – going from one exercise to another so that you’re constantly on the move and your mind is focusing on exercise rather than worrying about others around you.
  • Allow 10 minutes at the end your workout to cool down and stretch before having a shower or going home – this helps reduce muscle soreness.
  • Have a healthy meal with low-GI carbohydrates and some lean protein within the hour post-workout to help with recovery. 
  • Be consistent and go regularly!
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