From Our Readers
Updated Jul 28, 2015 @ 1:52 pm

Getting the motivation to workout is difficult, and even more so when your plan is to go to a gym for the first time. Gyms can sometimes seem like exclusive clubs where no outsiders are welcome and if you can’t lift three times your body weight you may as well not show up. But I spent about two years working as a fitness consultant at a gym (I was basically the lifeguard of the weight room. I saved many a toe from many a heavy weight in my day) and almost every shift I saw people walk in looking very nervous.

If you’re not going to the gym because it’s just not your thing, that’s totally fine! Honestly, I prefer to go for a run outside, but I hate to think that people aren’t going to the gym because you’re too intimidated or just don’t know what to do. Here’s why the gym is way less scary than you’d think.

No one is judging the way you look. Really

For some gym-goers, the idea of working out in a public space feels threatening because they’re afraid that people might look at them, see their body type or muscle tone level or sweat stains and laugh them out of there. Promise, promise, promise that is not the case. A good gym is a safe space. Fitness is for every shape and body type, and that’s a great thing.

There is no need to feel self-conscious about how you look when you’re at the gym. Nothing is cooler and more inspiring to a gym-goer or fitness instructor than seeing someone else giving their workout everything they’ve got, funny faces, grunts, sweat flying and everything. Whatever your level, whatever you’re doing, don’t fret about anyone else watching. Focus on all the good stuff exercise is doing for your lovely self.

Those crazy muscley fitness dudes are just people, too

The bodybuilders grunting while they lift twice your bodyweight are not nearly as intimidating once you’ve met them. Yes, they do take working out very seriously, but most of the bodybuilder types I talked to are softies at heart. They’ve made going to the gym one of the main events in their day, and while it may feel strange to curl your ten-pound hand weights in front of them, I guarantee they aren’t there to compete with you. If you happen to be taking a break at the same time as them they will be thrilled if you ask them about their workout.

The gym employees totally can help you out

Part of my to do list as a fitness consultant was to meet, and talk to, a new person at the gym every shift, which was great because I got to meet a lot of cool new people and the conversations made my time go by quickly. It’s possible that whatever gym you’re going to doesn’t have this policy in place, but regardless the employees are there to help you and given the opportunity, they will totally lend a hand or answer questions.

The employees are there to help and while the regulars and bodybuilders are very nice people and always say hi, it’s the newbies that make the shifts go by fast. Once you’ve had that initial conversation the employee will probably always remember you and chat with you when you come to the gym. Gym friend goal: accomplished!

You’re not alone

On any given shift, especially the more busy times of day, there are usually a few newcomers walking in. Chances are that person that you’ve seen wandering around has a confused face on that matches yours. This is the person to team up with! Go up and say hi! All of the sudden you’ll find yourself with a new workout buddy and probably a great friend. You can figure out the ways of the gym together and it’s much easier to go up and talk to the employees when you’ve got a partner in crime.

Emma Allmann can usually be found feeding donuts to the entire city of Madison, Wisconsin. You can find out what she thinks about the books she reads at and you can find out what’s going through her head when she’s staring off into space on Twitter @Emryal.

[Image via Netflix[