Gyms Suck and That Sucks

There. I said it.

Gym’s can be some of the most awful places on earth. And I don’t say that lightly. I grew up in the Central Valley of California so I know a thing or two about awful places. For all you non-Californians out there, the Central Valley is Tattooine(Like, it actually is. George Lucas grew up in a town 30 minutes from me).

Title: STAR WARS ¥ Pers: HAMILL, MARK ¥ Year: 1977 ¥ Dir: LUCAS, GEORGE ¥ Ref: STA039PE ¥ Credit: [ LUCASFILM/20TH CENTURY FOX / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ]

While it would be lovely if every gym was as accepting and magical as Mark Fisher Fitness, the sad fact remains that most gyms are so damn unwelcoming that many don’t go out of sheer anxiety and intimidation.

Considering the reason why people usually start working out in the first place(wanting to look better naked and be more confident), it is completely backwards that the gym often seems like it was engineered to magnify every single insecurity you didn’t even realize you had. From the enormous, muscle bound goliaths to the obnoxiously loud top 40 blaring from the radio to the weights slamming on the floor, it’s enough to make anyone feel out of place.

So how does ANYBODY start working out with this looming presence of such overwhelming intimidation and discomfort?

Well, there are a few things to keep in mind that can help make your first month or so at the gym a little less sucky. Keep in mind it’s still going to suck, at first at least, but the idea is to make it suck less so that you continue to do the most important of all exercises:

SHOWING UP. It doesn’t matter what the best workout is if you don’t show up.

Getting your mind right

Acknowledging that it’s ok to feel uncomfortable at the gym is step one. Most people don’t like it, at least initially. It’s totally ok to feel out of place. Frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t piss myself on the bench press during my first excursion to the gym. Everyone has been there, even the big intimidating dudes squatting more weight than you can count. You aren’t alone in feeling like the gym might as well be the gates to Mordor. Just knowing this can help calm some nerves.

Mordor's_DuoSpire

Furthermore, no one cares about you. I mean, I do of course, but no one in the gym is paying attention to you. It might seem like everyone is staring at you judging your every move. However, the reality is that everyone is way too concerned with themselves, ESPECIALLY the biggest guy in the gym. He didn’t get that big by worrying about what noobs are doing. You have to be completely focused on the weights to build that much muscle. That said, you can rest easy knowing that on the off chance that he does happen to be a judgemental b-hole, he probably doesn’t know you exist.

“But I have no idea what I’m doing!”

Another reason why this scenario is tough is that you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing. And truth be told, you probably don’t yet, and that’s ok. By showing up to the gym, you’re doing better than most. That said, having just a little bit of information can do wonders for feeling more confident and comfortable. My advice to you is to pick 4 simple exercises(2 upper body and 2 lower body) that don’t seem complicated and focus on getting stronger and more proficient in those. As you shift from noob to beginner to intermediate you will learn more about the specifics of training–that comes later though. At this point in your training career anything will work, so don’t overthink it. Keep in mind that just because people are doing different workouts than you doesn’t mean what you’re doing is wrong or ineffective.

I am intentionally not going into depth about exercise routines because the point here is that something is better than nothing. If you’re reading this that means you’re on the Internet. This means you have probably already read about a bunch of different workout methods. I’d rather not add to that list in the interest of simplicity. Worrying about the bazillion different ways to workout can be stressful and add to the overwhelming feeling of the gym. The idea is to keep it simple and know that whatever you end up doing will move you forward, so long as it’s not on a bosu ball i.e. bosu ball=not simple.

bosu

Don’t overthink it, and above all else, be consistent. Just show up. Seriously, do it. I can’t stress this enough. The best workout in the world is worthless if you don’t show up consistently. I would argue that, initially, building confidence in the gym is much more important than building muscle. Sure, some workouts are better than others, but that doesn’t mean the “lesser” workouts won’t yield results.

I hope this piece has given some useful perspective on how to survive your first days at the gym without shitting a brick. If you have any questions about this topic that I didn’t cover, drop a comment below. I would love to help!


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