Whether you have a longtime membership to a gym or are just starting exercise, the weight floor can be an intimidating place. I have to confess that I was incredibly uncomfortable even using the spartan gym at my college for my first year of working out. The experience, though, made me realize that Planet Fitness was wrong; gyms typically aren't the judgment-heavy netherworlds they are believed to be.
Here are three tidbits to keep in mind if you're ever uncomfortable once you step through the gym doors.
POINTER #1: Most people at the gym don't realize you're there.
Every day, I see a ton of gym-goers gyrating on cardio machines and staring absent-mindedly at dumbbells between sets. I can guarantee you that you're likely not featured among the various thoughts flitting through their minds-that is, unless you're making a ton of noise or staring at them weirdly. Most people at the gym at any given moment are usually absorbed in their workouts or the consuming goings-on of their lives, so you'd have to be causing a pretty conspicuous problem for anyone to jerk out of their reveries and notice you.
POINTER #2: Help is there if you ask for it.
I can't possibly say that every gym has the energetic, knowledgable, helpful staff that one would expect (or deserve). But what I can say is that you'd be hard-pressed to find a facility where there's not a single person on the faculty-front desk, training, or even management-who can't answer questions about exercises or the layout of the gym. Ask around if you have questions; you won't be judged.
POINTER #3: If people are actually looking at you, you're probably upsetting the delicate balance of gym etiquette.
As I said above, you'd have to be really screwing things up for people to actually take notice of you at the gym. Your fellow gym-goers are most likely, in my opinion, to have a problem if you're doing one of the following things:
* Talking on your cell phone-anywhere
* Using a piece of equipment for more than five minutes
* Putting free weights back in the wrong place or leaving them on the floor
* Making a considerable amount of noise
* Getting bodily fluids on equipment
* Staring at people
Sometimes people don't notice these actions, but there are many who do. So if you find yourself in the middle of one of the above and you catch a glare or two, don't be surprised.
But remember this: unless you are displaying one of the above behaviors or happen to possess an extra limb, people aren't going to judge you at any given gym. If you feel uncomfortable, ask someone for help; there are few things more stifling than uncertainty. You're going to be okay!
Jason is a NASM certified personal trainer ready to help you to start realizing your fitness goals today.