Weight Loss Support - how did you get over being scared to go to the gym?

04-25-2010, 06:25 PM
I have always worked out at home with workout DVDs, and will sometimes go for walks around the neighborhood. So far, it has worked well for me, but I am starting to get bored and I want to kick things up a notch. I know I am getting into better shape and I am starting to change my mindset, so I think I might be ready to start going to the gym. I don't want to just be within a healthy BMI, I want to be in shape -- I want to be an athlete -- fit and capable and strong.

There are two 24-hour gyms within three blocks of me, so I am very, very fortunate. But I am so afraid to walk in those doors!!

I have always thought of myself as a chubby, out-of-shape person. When I was young, we'd run the mile in school and I would always end up crying and walking half of it. I was the last to be picked for team sports. I always came in last in ski races. I'm fine as long as my exercising is private, but in my mind I am still awkward and out-of-shape compared to other people. In my mind, nobody should have to watch me exercise -- my fat will jiggle, my sweat will be smelly, or people will think I'm not working out hard enough. Which I know is ridiculous -- I'm sure everyone just focuses on their own workouts -- but I am so anxious!

How did you get over your gym anxieties? What do you wear to work out, and what do you bring with you? Does the gym staff come over to make sure you're doing okay, or do people basically leave you alone? Is it only super-fit people that frequent gyms, or are there people of all sizes? Sorry about having so many questions! :dizzy: Any input at all would be really helpful for me.

04-25-2010, 06:29 PM
While I have not even gotten over my own gym fear, I can assure you that you have nothing to worry about. The few times I have gone, paranoid the whole time that everyone was going to laugh at me, people have left me entirely alone. You are already small--not obese by any standards, I'd say--so I'm sure no one would ever look twice at you (unless it's in appreciation :) ). In my experience, there are most definitely people of many sizes (not super-obese that I've seen, but in the normal to chunky range).

pink sparkle
04-25-2010, 06:42 PM
You don't have anything to worry about. I had to psych myself up my first time going to the gym too. I did it by getting outside and walking/running. That got me used to working out in front of people. My first day at the gym, I just did it. I had paid for training sessions, so the trainer showed me how to work a large majority of the machines (very helpful!). I now go to the gym 4-5 days a week.

As for the people at the gym...all types. Everyone isn't fit (obviously I'm not). I find that, for the most part, people are too busy watching their form, checking themselves out or zoning out to pay much attention to anyone else.

pink sparkle
04-25-2010, 06:46 PM
Oh, I see I didn't answer some of your questions. I wear workout pants, capris, and workout shirts or just a regular tee. I take my phone/headphones, car keys, water and two towels (one to wipe away my sweat; the other to put over the treadmill/elliptical display so I won't keep looking at the time lol). I don't shower at the gym because it's near my house and I prefer to be comfortable during showers.

kay lee
04-25-2010, 07:05 PM
I agree with pink sparkle. People are so focused on their workout that they hardly notice you unless you are hogging a machine.

04-25-2010, 07:22 PM
Here's what I had to remind myself, when I'm working out, what do I focus on? Is it the perfect form and fit bodies of other people? Or how someone has a little cellulite on their thighs? If I had the time and the energy to concentrate on those things, I wouldn't be working out to my full potential. And because that applies to me, I assume that everyone else is far too wrapped up with themselves to care about how chubby/sweaty/out of shape I am. Besides, just being at the gym shows that you are making a commitment to getting into shape, and that is commendable. You're going to the gym for you, not to impress other people or even to see other people. They just happen to be there. Forget about them, chances are they've forgotten about everyone else, too.

04-25-2010, 07:35 PM
I was paying for a membership and wasn't going for this very reason. One hot summer day while I was walking and heated to death, I finally woke up and told myself how crazy I was being. I started going after that day. At first I wore black workout pants and a t-shirt. Now that I am loosing, I wear tank tops (I like working out without sleeves). No one has said anything negative to me at my gym and I go to the YMCA. I never thought of this until I actually started talking to others, but some of those "cute" girls, used to be bigger than me. If going to the gym is something you want to do, I say do it. I find that I have to leave my house in order to work out- it keeps me on track.

04-25-2010, 07:59 PM
:yes:I agree with pink sparkle. People are so focused on their workout that they hardly notice you unless you are hogging a machine.

Agreeing also.

Just work up the courage to go once and you will see there will be plenty of people out of shape, small and big. Everyone will be too into what they are doing to notice you even walk in (at least that is how it is for me ;) )

04-25-2010, 08:11 PM
Awwww if only you knew!!! I won't lie, there might be someone who looks at you and judges you. There are people like that everywhere, and working out has nothing to do with it. They're judging you because they're uncomfortable, judgemental people! There are truly all kinds of people at the gym - old guys, fat women, high school football players, fit people, not fit people, but they all have at least one thing in common... They're trying to be in better shape! So don't worry about it, seriously. And I bet once you get in that door and start working out, you'll wonder why you were ever worried!

Gym staff leave you alone. I would never go to a gym where the staff members are "checking" on me. At my gym (Cardinal Fitness), you can ask the staff to show you how to use equipment, tips on working a certain group of muscles, etc. It's not personal training, but they're very glad to help.

I wear long shorts and t-shirts (some meant for working out, some old barcrawl shirts), and that's really what most people wear (or capris or sweatpants). I take headphones, a water bottle, and my wallet. I usually have a calorie goal instead of a time goal, but your workout is entirely up to you. You can spend 10 minutes on one machine and move to another, or you might love the elliptical and work on that.

And don't worry about being sweaty. I am most definitely the heaviest female sweater wherever I go, and I used to worry about it, but now I take a lot of pride in it. Sweat = hard work, calories burned, becoming stronger, and it's one of your body's natural cleansing methods. It's so natural and healthy!!

Seriously. Just go to the gym. :)

04-25-2010, 08:20 PM
don't EVEN worry about it. when i go to my gym...i SWIM. so i'm in a bathing suit and that ain't pretty right now. haha! the other posters are right...people are SO into their workouts, nobody cares. don't give it a second thought and JOIN THAT GYM! :-)

04-25-2010, 08:31 PM
Someone once told me that you wouldn't worry about what people think about you if you realized how little they do. People are naturally self-centered, and are mostly thinking of themselves and their concerns all day long. I was once scared of the gym too, and as a person TWO TIMES your size, I definitely felt afraid of people's comments. But I help my head up high, knowing that I am there to work on myself and change my life and I'll be damned if I let someone's comment bother me. I psyched myself out and signed up and nothing happened. No one bothers me or says anything rude--if anything, people there are friendly. But most everyone keeps to themselves. I don't like talking during exercise because I am a little out of breath and sweaty, so I don't invite it by wearing headphones.

I dress in sweat/yoga pants, a T-shirt and athletic shoes. I bring my iPod, water, keys and sometimes a small handtowel for sweat (I like the sweat--it shows how hard I am working).

04-25-2010, 11:06 PM
All right, it's official! I'm going tomorrow! I set up my iPod and headphones, and I'm going to get the rest of the stuff ready so I can go right after work. Thank you everyone for the input and reassurance. :hug:

04-25-2010, 11:09 PM
I started going with a friend. Signed up together and all. She fizzed out and stopped going, and I just knew I had to keep on going. I put on my ipod, and just work out. Most times I barely notice the other people in the gym cause I'm in my own little world. ( unless there is some eye candy there ;) )

04-25-2010, 11:24 PM
Like a lot of people have said. People are so into their workout that they don't even noticie you. The first time I went to the gym I went with a friend. That really helped me "get in there" then I went in on my own and all that fear went away.

04-26-2010, 04:21 AM
Ohh, I can really relate to this. At the start of this year I just went headfirst and joined my local gym. I felt so awkward and uncomfortable there because everyone seemed so fit and skinny already. My boyfriend then reminded me that they're fit and skinny because... they go to the gym, duh. I felt like a monster there for weeks (I still do sometimes), but the feeling goes away once you've had a few visits. I just bring my ipod and listen to music or watch some videos and try to tune out for a while. They even have equipment there with a TV in it, so that's quite neat and distracting.

A couple of months ago I got REALLY brave and went to some group classes. I was terrified of not being able to keep up and embarrassing myself, but everyone has turned out to be so nice. The instructors are encouraging and even the other people in the class have been nice and helpful, showing me how to set up my equipment when I was new to it. I now take a cardio class (which is very silly and fun and involves a lot of naff music and laughing) and some pump classes with a barbell. I thought these would be terrible, but I have actually grown to like them a lot - I feel so strong afterwards, and I can even see some definition in my arms. I never have to ask the boyfriend to unscrew jars in the kitchen for me! ;) ha ha!

Be brave and please let us know how you went with your first day!

04-26-2010, 11:15 AM
Honestly, I notice most people are in the zone when they go to the gym. So, just put on blinders and go in and rock out while you work out.

If it makes you feel better, I used to go to a local gym at over 400 lbs. While people were shocked to see me, they'd also tell me "good for you". I know it's rather patronizing, but what can you do? No one died from the sight of my body in motion, and you won't cause any heart attacks as well.

Good luck!

By the way, if you have a Planet Fitness near you, I highly recommend their facilities. They advertise themselves as a "no judgement zone" and I can tell you, I really got that vibe from the place. I saw people of varying sizes and ages working out as well. They're quite cheap too!

Petite Powerhouse
04-26-2010, 12:45 PM
Honestly, I wear very little at the gym. I do that because it motivates me to stick to healthy eating. When I cover up too much I don't have as much incentive to make sure I'm paying attention to both exercise and diet. But that said, most people wear t-shirts and shorts or sweats/capris. Most people are pretty covered.

As for being judged at the gym, I have been working out for 20 years, and in all that time I couldn't even tell you who has been at the gym at the same time that I have. I pay no attention to anyone else. I think that's pretty much true across the board.

04-26-2010, 01:16 PM
I just wanted to add, I wear shorts and t-shirt when I do cardio, but when I'm lifting, I wear longer (at least capri) pants. I got ring worm a few years ago. Blech! That was enough for me. If more than just my hands, feet or rear touch the equipment, I'm in longer pants. ;)

04-26-2010, 01:48 PM
I've been comfortable in most gyms even at my highest weight. The first few times in a new gym are awkward, as you get to know the social climate. Don't sign on to a membership without trying the place out first (they may have free day passes or a month's trial membership - but don't sign on to a year or more's contract before you've tested out the gym).

Gyms are a bit like bars, each has it's own personality and unique social climate. In some gyms, people are friendly and chatty, and in others everyone avoids unnecessary eye contact and there's little conversation unless people are exercising with a buddy they came with. Most gyms have people of every size. On any given day you might not see someone my size, but eventually you probably will - but there are exceptions. Especially in college towns and larger cities there are gyms for every social class and subculture. Most are fairly well mixed, but there are a few in which it's hard not to feel out-of-place. For example I'm glad I used the trial memberships when I worked at a company that offered discounts at two gyms. One of them was a Gold's gym and I felt really out of place. Mostly everyone was super-fit in expensive work-out gear and on display for everyone to see. Mirrors were everywhere too, so no matter where you were, you could see almost everyone in the gym. I mostly like to swim, and the pool was in the center of the gym with glass walls. I felt like I was being watched (whether or not I was, I don't know). It made me uncomfortable to say the least.

The second gym had a more relaxed mind-your-own-business atmosphere and the crowd was for the most part families and older people. There weren't a lot of other young singles at the gym (I was more in the age-bracket of the Gold's gym), but I felt more comfortable with the older crowd anyway (I wasn't at the gym to pick up anyone, so I liked that everyone kept to themselves). I met my husband (not through the gym, through a personal add in the local newspaper) and we joined together. We did meet a few people our age in the ginormous hot tub - it was the only place in the gym that people might have a little conversation (but if you didn't want to talk, no one seemed to care or notice, either).

There really is a gym for every personality, age, social group and body type.

04-26-2010, 02:09 PM
I work out at the YMCA and I remember going in there and being terrified at what people are going to think. It was easy to get over that once I put on my headphones and hopped on an elliptical. I am also a heavy sweater, but I take pride in it and I work toward a calorie goal and a sweat mark goal (I know it sounds silly) everytime I am there. Once I put on my headphones, I am in my world. I work out to the beat of the music and I have Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels' voices in my head yelling at me telling me to work harder.

I love the YMCA because I see literally every fitness type come walking in, from the ones who can barely walk because they are so heavy to the ones who look like supermodels. The one thing that I love is that no one bats an eye at any fitness level. There is a common mindset there, we are all there to get healthier. To me, it doesn't matter where your starting point is, just as long as you've deemed it a starting point and you work toward your healthier lifestyle at your own pace. I have never felt judged once while working out.

I can't wait to hear how your first day went! Going to the gym is great. :)

Petite Powerhouse
04-26-2010, 02:18 PM
As for Gold's Gym, it is as diverse as any other. I go to about six of them, and they all have their own personalities. One is full of the young and fit, one is family oriented, one has a mix of everyone.... Some I like more than others, but I find that at any one of them I can work out in peace, just like everyone else. And one of them has a very good women's center where you can go to get away from it all. The weights don't go up high enough for me, but I can bring weights in from the main floor. I spend a lot of time in the women's center.

04-26-2010, 02:20 PM
I often tell myself "I am not here to win a beauty contest, I am here to work hard and get in shape" or "I am not here to impress other people, I am here for myself"

04-26-2010, 03:24 PM
I started going with a friend, but that didn't really work for me because she took longer than I did. So I just decided to go by myself. Nobody is staring at you, and if anyone does, it's not cos they're thinking you're "chubby and out of shape" it's only because they're bored. I people watch at the gym, it's fun. I'm never judging anyone, nobody there is. Remember, exercise creates endorphins, and endorphins make you happy, and happy people don't judge others.

And if it makes you feel any better, I started going to the gym when I weighed 214 pounds. I didn't have a car so I'd ride the 2.5 miles there on my broken bike (it only worked in first gear and clicked a lot) from when I was 10. I'll fully admit I looked like an idiot, but I didn't care because I needed to do it lol.

04-26-2010, 03:25 PM
I work out at the YMCA, and I love it. I feel like it's more family-oriented, so you get a lot less of the gym bunny types. Usually I wear yoga pants and a t-shirt, and my routine involves 15-20 minutes of cardio, then stretching, then 45 minutes of weights, and then another 15-20 of cardio.

I sweat like a pig, my face gets red, and I make a right a** out of myself doing lunges with a medicine ball right down the center aisle of the weight room. I know I look ridiculous, and I've just stopped caring! I get into my zone, and when I leave with my muscles burning and my GoWear Fit telling me I burned 450 calories, I could care less about if anybody gave me a funny look, haha.

I would not have said any of this three months ago, btw. It took me a long time to get into the routine, but now I feel like my day isn't complete if I don't have some sort of a workout.

04-26-2010, 03:37 PM
I work out at the YMCA and I remember going in there and being terrified at what people are going to think. It was easy to get over that once I put on my headphones and hopped on an elliptical. I am also a heavy sweater, but I take pride in it and I work toward a calorie goal and a sweat mark goal (I know it sounds silly) everytime I am there. Once I put on my headphones, I am in my world. I work out to the beat of the music and I have Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels' voices in my head yelling at me telling me to work harder.

It's silly and wrong since I'm not naturally a big sweater myself, but I admire people who sweat a lot. :D I look on them with admiration.

04-26-2010, 03:42 PM
I was intimidated by the gym, though if anyone asked why I didn't join one, I said I was concerned about the expense. (I did care a little about the expense, yes, but really, I was afraid of being scrutinized.) I lived in a hilly area with big broad sidewalks everywhere & so I told myself I could walk off the weight, all on my own. Which was true. But I did not escape scrutiny that way. People passed me on the street sometimes in the early mornings, people in cars looked, and later, I realized the neighbors must have seen me from behind their windows because they'd mention it in casual conversation: "I've seen you out there every morning, in all kinds of weather."

Yes, that turned out to be the issue: All kinds of weather. Because I really enjoyed my walks (which turned into running& walking) & hated when we'd have a string of rainy days. And winter was coming. But I dropped enough pounds by then that I felt much better about going to the gym.

And then, once I got to the gym, I slapped my forehead (metaphorically), thinking, "Jeez, why didn't I do this sooner?" Because there were people of all different sizes, ages & shapes, some heavy as me at my heaviest, some much older & there to keep up with their physical therapy. Really, it reflected my neighborhood. I wished I'd gotten over my fears sooner, as I wouldn't have been sweating so hard on the "heat advisory" days in the summer or bundling up against frostbitten ears & fingertips or braving getting struck by lightning or worrying about passing cars clipping me & etc. because I just HAD to get my walk in.

04-26-2010, 09:14 PM
Thank you to everyone who responded!! Well, I WAS brave and I went, and I feel great! I went on the treadmill for 54 minutes -- 3.5 miles -- my headphones stayed on, nobody stared at me, I didn't trip over anything, and I even worked up the courage to sprint at 6 MPH for a bit! I feel so good!

I'm still a little intimidated -- I went over and looked at the free weights for a bit, but the only other people over there were muscley guys. Now, I have experience lifting heavy weights, but it might take a while for me to work up the courage to go over there and really do it seriously!

The staff was really friendly and helpful, and it turns out I get a discount gym membership because of my health insurance plan. So I signed up for a gym membership straight off. Part of me is groaning about the $23 a month I'll be spending, but come on -- $23 a month? I used to spend that much every WEEK on fast food!!

ETA: saef -- I so know where you're coming from. I live in Minnesota, and our winter is a solid 6 months long, ice and snow and all. Exercising outside is practically impossible... so this will be really, really good for me.

pink sparkle
04-27-2010, 10:51 AM
Glad to hear it worked out! Yay!

04-27-2010, 11:01 AM
Skyra, I'm so happy you did this for yourself! That's so awesome that you were able to conquer that fear! It only gets easier as you become more familiar with it.

I was scared of the free weights too, despite the fact that I very much know what to do with them having grown up with free weights in our basement! (I have an older brother) I just picked up the dumb bells one day and went to town and have slowly added things. Now I'm a familiar face over there and the men over there are familiar faces too and I feel like I fit in just fine. I even asked one of the men a question this morning. :D

04-27-2010, 01:24 PM
Congrats Skyra, you made a good decision. :)

04-27-2010, 08:55 PM
i'm so glad you went. Sometimes is so hard getting out of our comfort zone so glad you were able to. :)

05-02-2010, 08:45 PM
i am too scared to go to the gym...i just feel like everyones gonna stare since im not the slimmest person...so right now im just sticking to workout dvds @ home and walking at least an hour a day.i know its not much but like the saying goes "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step",and when i do cause i know i will lose some more weight and get in a little better shape ill go try out my local gym which is roughly about a mile away so i can walk to it.... wish me luck :)

09-17-2012, 03:10 PM
Glad it worked out for you!
I read this thread because I just signed up for a membership during lunch and I'm headed there after I get off work today. It's my first time ever stepping foot in a gym and I'm was (still a little am) nervous about going. But reading everyone's replies really helped. :D

09-17-2012, 03:22 PM
Zelda - good luck. All the advice from years ago still holds true. No one really cares what you look like or how well you do at Zumba. Have fun with this - make it a part of the day you look forward to.


09-17-2012, 06:06 PM
Choose a family friendly gym like Life Time athletic club! There isn't the showing off & prancing around in skimpy outfits that I have notice at other gyms. People are polite, friendly, & smile at eachother! If you are trying a new class, go a few mins early & introduce yourself to the instructor & tell them it's your first time!

When I first started working out at a new gym, I had 3 sessions w a trainer, & she showed me how everything worked & helped me figure out the right settings for me. I was much more comfortable doing it with a pro!

09-18-2012, 12:07 AM
i go to my gym on workdays and rest (more or less) on weekends....ive been doing that for nearly a year now...sometimes i glance at the other ppl there, and i'm sure they glance at me too...ive had several random ppl comment to me that i work out so hard and that i inspire them :) which is always nice to hear

i run so i wear good running shoes, capri workout pants, sports bra and a tight-fitting tank top...i take my phone and earbuds for music, and something to wipe sweat with, and my inhaler...thats what i take to the treadmill but i leave a bag in the locker room as well as my car keys etc locked up