Exercise! - My first night at the gym = nightmare

01-30-2008, 09:02 AM
Yesterday was my first day at the gym I signed up at. I haven't been to a gym since my skinny days 4 years ago.

I was completely intimidated. I didn't know what to do, what machine to use. So I first went into the stretching room. They had a few resistance machines in there in a circle. I guess if you go around them on a circle, you're supposed to be warmed up?? Well looking at myself in the mirror (they're everywhere) really hurt my ego. I just looked like a fat round blob sitting on these machines. I can picture people laughing at me in their head.

So after I warmed up, I went to an eliptical machine and got on that. I didn't know how to work it, so I just hit the quick start button. After 2 minutes, it felt like 30. So I told myself I would stay on it till 5. And I did!! Then I did 1 minute backwards and got off it. I only did 6 minutes on the thing, but it's a start right? I wonder if the people on the machines behind me noticed I was only on it for 5 minutes.

I wiped the machine down and left. Such a humilating night :( In and out of the gym in 20 minutes. I hope to improve this, but for now it's a start.

What do you do when you go to the gym? I want to go, I spent too much money on membership to quit.

01-30-2008, 09:15 AM
Aw. :hug: You did a great thing getting in there and doing something. That's all anyone could ask you to do! I always feel intimidated when I'm in a new place. Always. I feel like everyone is staring at me and thinking things about me. Chances are, no one noticed what you were doing because they were so wrapped up in their own workouts.

Does the gym you attend offer a free training session or anything? Could you ask the people who work there to explain how the machines work or give you an idea of what kind of a program to do? I would imagine that's part of their job - they have to keep you safe in their establishment, so you have to know how to work the machines properly.

When I go to the gym I like to do the elliptical as well. Our gym has LifeFitness ones. When I get on, I start pedalling and then press the "Manual" button. Then it asks for my weight, which I enter on the numerical pad and then push "Enter". Then it asks for the time I want to go for. I usually do an hour (I had to work up to that) so I push "5500" (it makes "55:00" on the screen) and then "Enter" because it does a five minute cooldown automatically at the end so that makes an hour. Then it asks what level I want to do and I always just do Level 1 so I push "1" and "Enter". Then it starts. I pedal the whole time I'm entering the stuff.

Hope that helps!

Oh, I don't find it very useful to stretch before I do cardio because my muscles aren't warmed up yet and I don't want to hurt them. I do spend about fifteen minutes after each cardio workout stretching, though.

Also, if your gym offers any classes, they would be a great way to change up your routine a bit. I like to do yoga classes and toning classes (my gym calls them "chisel" classes). I don't care for spin (on the bike) very much because it hurts my bum, but that is also a very popular class.


01-30-2008, 09:23 AM
Hey, you WENT! This should be a triumphant morning!

I think, as Tomandkara said, that someone at the gym should be able to take you around and help you out for your first night. Just to show you the ropes and machines!

I generally just treadmill. :)

I tried out the elliptical at my work's gym (no trainers or anything, just equipment) but I think I was using it wrong :?: I'm no gym genius.

Now that I'm looking into lifting some weights (something I'm clueless about, unfortunately) I, too, may soon be looking for someone in person who knows what the crap they're talking about.

Eitherway, best of luck! And I can't say anything about what other people are thinking/doing, but I know that when I'm doing my treadmilling I'm not thinking about anyone else around me.

01-30-2008, 09:25 AM
I think you did great -- I would never have been able to sit in the room full of mirrors!!!:dizzy:

When I started I could only do 3 minutes on the elliptical and now I'm up to 40 minutes and then a mile or so on the track. You'll get there, honest!! I agree, see if someone who works there could at least show you how to set the machines for your personal use.

At first I felt like everyone was watching the "obese woman" on the machines to see how long I lasted, but they care about what you are doing almost as much as you care abou them!! Everyone is there to exercise their body and are into themselves more than whats going on around them, honest!! You'll get comfortable and even start helping out the new people who come in. :D

01-30-2008, 09:28 AM
Thank you guys :)

I signed up for a trainer on Thursday and wanted to propose an exercise plan I read about in an oxygen mag. It's called the push/pull exercise. I also need someone to show me how to work the machines. I am completely out of it. My office has the exact same elipticall as the one at the gym. One of those preforms or precor, I'm not sure on the name. I was going to try working out on the one here at work to understand it better so I'm not makign a fool of myself in public :) Is the elipticall supposed to hurt?? I was in pain almost the whole time, and broke a mad sweat in those 5 minutes.

01-30-2008, 09:39 AM
I'd suggest mixing up your cardio with lifting free weights. I think weight lifting is just as, if not more important, for weight loss as cardio. I'm a fan of the Precor ellipticals (I have a heart rate monitor and it can "talk" to those machines, so that it displays my actual heart rate on the screen :)). I'm lifting weights (full-body routines) 3 days a week now and taking a cardio kickboxing class (it's an hour long) two days a week. Maybe look into some group classes?

I think you're doing the right thing asking a trainer to help you figure things out. Most gyms worth their salt give a complementary session with a trainer after a new member joins, to show the member all the equipment and how to use it. :hug: The human body is incredibly adaptable. I remember my first time on an elliptical. Nightmare. Like you, 5 minutes completely wrung my out my first time. I can now go an hour without a problem if I choose to. I worked my way up by 5 minutes every time I went, until I reached an hour. Good luck!

PS~ I know you think everyone's watching you. I think we've all felt that way in a gym at one time or another. Someone told me once that "everyone is so busy worrying about other people looking at them, that they're too focused on themselves to be looking at you". I take some comfort in that. And, now that I'm lifting the heavy free weights on the "guy's side" of the gym, I've found that those intimidating "meat heads" are really friendly guys--they're usually willing to spot you on your bench press or answer a question if you have one.

01-30-2008, 10:15 AM
Congrats on making it there and getting started!!!

I often go to the gym for 10 minutes at a time (it's in my apartment building, so it's easy for me to duck down for short periods). I also feel self-conscious about doing that, because I wonder if people are laughing at me that I'm there for such a short time. But you know what? Who cares. It's my body and I'm getting it in shape MY way :) And it's working! That's all that matters.

01-30-2008, 10:19 AM
Hi Sneeks! You go, girl!! :) I had exactly the same experience when I started at the gym. I think I made it four minutes on the Precor, and my legs were on friggin' FIRE the whole time. Absolutely nothing like the stiffness I experienced the second day afterwards!!! But it got better, and then I could do 20 minutes. Fast forward two years, and I walked my first half-marathon.

As far as strength training goes, I second everyone who said to work with a trainer the first couple times. Form is everything - and once I learned the right way to lift, I started looking at those big beefy guys in a whole new light. A lot of those non-fat people at the gym actually have no idea what they're doing! Over the years I've seen some appalling form and dangerous moves. Not saying that it's great to be critical of what other people are doing, but it helped me with feeling like I don't look right and everyone else is rolling their eyes at the fat lady puffing away on the treadmill.

The other thing that helped was cultivating a "so what?" attitude about them. Maybe they are thinking that I look terrible. So what? :)

01-30-2008, 10:21 AM
I just want you to know how great I think it is that you went, and by yourself at that! I'm working up the nerve to go, but I'm dragging my husband with me lol. I think you should feel very proud of yourself :hug:

01-30-2008, 10:22 AM
I've often found that having a plan before I walk in the door makes a big difference for my comfort level - especially when I was first starting out. That way I felt like I had a purpose/mission.

For cardio I sometimes mix up the machines I use to accomplish the # of minutes I plan to do. Eg. 15 min elliptical, 20 min tread, 10 min rower. I get bored & this helps keep it fresh plus some machines I just can't hack it for the full 45 min (especially the rower - lol).

As well, on the cardio machines I never use the preset routines. I always use the quickstart features & then (usually) create my own intervals as I go along. Again, I get bored so this lets me change it up & keep myself entertained.

Good luck - & good for you for joining the gym!!!

I still overt my eyes from the mirrors - I soooo wish they were not there!

01-30-2008, 11:41 AM
Make sure you turn down the resistance on the elliptical, its not supposed to hurt. I only use the lower resistance levels on those.

01-30-2008, 12:05 PM
First of all - WAY TO GO! You went and you did something! Thats just awesome :)
As for being worried what others think - I remember when I was a lot thinner than I am now and I would go to the gym quite a lot. When I saw a "person of size" I would always just think good thoughts. I would think it was so good that they were doing something about their health, and that they were brave for facing the mirrors. I have no doubt that the few people who werent too wrapped up in what they were doing and actually noticed you thought nothing but positive things, and certainly didnt think you looked stupid or anything like that.

Keep it up, you are an inspiration :)

/Timk, who is too chicken to go to the gym and wishes she had more guts

01-30-2008, 02:47 PM
That's great that you went! If you're intimidated by the machines, and not sure how to work them exactly, you could go really early in the morning so you're one of the few in there. That way you won't feel as though so many people are watching you (which they're probably not, anyway!).

01-30-2008, 03:29 PM
You should try other machines, not feeling like the elliptical is "THE" way to go.. Maybe you're more a stair climber person, or a rower, or a weight machines person..

For me, I would always get burnt out on the recumbent or regular bikes. Other people said those were the easiest ones, but even with a really looooow fitness level I could do a LONG time on the rower.

Find a machine you like and can do for a while, and then work up to the ones you aren't so good at, like the elliptical (which you WILL be good at, eventually).

Heck, even just grab some of the 1 or 2lb free weights and do some reps to put in your time so you feel you're doing SOMETHING if all else fails. The swiss balls are pretty great, too! :)

01-30-2008, 04:30 PM
I'm another person who when I first got on the elliptical could only do a few minutes. I would do a few minutes elliptical, then treadmill for awhile and then another few minutes on the elliptical. Over time I worked my way up to an hour at a hill level of about 5.

I echo the advice of getting a personal trainer, even if for just a few sessions. It will make you much more comfortable in the gym.

01-30-2008, 04:41 PM
I remember my first time on an elliptical. We were at the equipment store looking to buy one. I lasted about 45 seconds on it, in front of dh and the salesguy.


Now I can do an hour, no big whoop. You will get there, I promise. And I agree---ask for help. You are paying to use the facility, the people who work there will be glad to help.

Congrats on such a wonderful first step!

01-30-2008, 08:49 PM
Glad you are getting an orientation because that is what I would have suggested. Even with me knowing how to work the weight machines and cardio, my trainer has shown me the proper form and different ways to use everything that I never would have picked up on my own without a ton of research! Hope you have a better time once you are more comfortable, and trust me no one's looking at yah. They're all huffing and puffing and listening to music or watching tv. Don't worry!

01-31-2008, 04:47 AM
You did great! My first time at the gym was a total disaster. I didn't even have workout clothes to wear. I wore a pair linen shorts because they were all I had that were even close to what someone would wear for exercise (at least they had an elastic waist), a huge t-shirt (again, pretty much all I had), and no sports bra (although I did at least wear a bra, even if it only provided minimal support--luckily I don't need a lot of support ;)). And my shoes were cheap $5 Keds knock-offs from Target. I was completely intimidated by all the machines; I was afraid to even try the elliptical. I ran on the treadmill but I sure didn't last very long. And I hadn't thought to bring a towel. Within seconds, sweat was just dripping off me :woops: and I had nothing to wipe it on except my huge, cotton, so-not-moisture-wicking t-shirt.

When I did eventually get up the courage to try an elliptical on subsequent visits, I think I only lasted two minutes. Even now, I never do more than 15 minutes on a machine because I get bored. And people get on and off the machines in five minutes all the time. So I wouldn't worry about people watching you. Probably no one notices and if they do notice, they probably just think that's your normal workout routine.

Working with a trainer is a great idea. If you can swing it, I encourage you to sign up for some extra sessions. I've had a trainer for two years now and it's really helped me in terms of motivation (not only for exercise but it also really helps me stay on track with my eating) and feeling more comfortable at the gym.

01-31-2008, 04:34 PM
Firstly CONGRATS KARA on getting to the gym...

I can picture people laughing at me in their head. Kara is right in saying that everyone is in their own little world and no one really looks at anyone in the gym... So don't you worry about it at all, NO ONE IS LOOKING, honest...

I only did 6 minutes on the thing, but it's a start right? Absolutely, positively YES it's a start.... I am a gym rat and have been going for 20+ years, and I still, some days go in for 20 minutes and I'm gone... It's better than having stayed at home in front of the tube... Eventually you will do more and feel more comfortable in the gym surrounding...

Definitely :yes: get someone from the gym to show you around, and if you can afford it get a personal trainer for a couple of sessions and he/she will make you feel more comfortable about being at the gym.... That push-pull workout you mention is a very good workout, I've been doing it... I'm not fussy though for the lower body workout on that plan so I've adjusted it for me...But the upper body workouts are good...

Another good idea are the classes, this would help you in meeting other members and not feeling so alone...

Hope this helps, along with all the other great suggestions, and keep us posted on your progress....:hug:

02-01-2008, 12:32 PM
Gettting into the gym is an excellent start and doing any workout no matter how long is a great beginning! :) You'll get comfortable eventually and then you'll be in there for an hour at a time! :) I also agree with all those before me, get a session with a PT to learn the ins and outs of the machines and to set up a workout for you to follow. It will help you tremendously and also give you more confidence in using the equipment!

02-04-2008, 11:47 AM
Sneeks, you should be proud of your 5 minutes on the machine from h*ll! I lasted 1.5 minutes. Yep, that is all I could do.
I also was very intimidated by the machines. I asked for a demonstration on how each machine worked and how many reps to do on each, and was given a very detailed walk-through. They even said that they know that there are a lot of different pieces of equipment, so if I didn't understand them all, to just ask and they would show me again.
I have found that, for me, I do about 30 minutes on the treadmill, then I go do a weight circuit (only 3 days a week), then I come back and do 10-20 minutes on the recumbent bike.

02-04-2008, 03:09 PM
Sneeks, you should be proud of yourself rather than humilated! So many people don't ever take that first step, and you did it. You should be proud.

What helps me at first is to get some variation. Even one minute is better than zero. What if next time you tried 5 minutes on each cardio machine to feel it out? Just go on the easiest level and take it slowly. Don't be embarrassed to take the time to figure out how to work the machine- everyone starts somewhere.

Something else to keep in mind: When you sign up for gym memberships, many of them come with an introductory personal training session or two, or at least an orientation. Ask if that's applicable. If not, it's definitely worth considering having one session anyway if you can afford it, in the long run it will make you go more if you have confidence and a set routine!

The bottom line: give it time, and be proud of yourself for taking such a positive step for yourself.