The New Year is right around the corner, and many of you are thinking about joining a gym. You plan on putting, “Work Out Regularly” on the top of your resolution list. Maybe it has made an appearance on your list before, and as you write it this year you might hear a little voice inside your head say, “Why are you even bothering with this? You know you’re never going to do it.” And I say, “Tell that little voice she can either get on board or get out of the way, because this is the year the train is bound for NEW YOU CITY!”
(I know, it’s a little much. Sometimes I just can’t help myself.)
I get it. Change is hard. I don’t even like to part my hair on the wrong side because it feels so disturbing. I understand how difficult it is to join a new gym, especially if you haven’t been working out recently (which we will define here as the last couple of months to the last 20 years.) And I also appreciate that gyms can seem kind of scary – all that machinery that looks like something out of a mad scientist’s lab, manned by uber-fit trainers who you’re fairly certain are privately making bets as to how long you’ll continue to show up. Trust me. I get it.
It doesn’t have to be like that. Take my hand (metaphorically speaking) and join me as I walk you through the process, empowering you with the knowledge and confidence required to march your ass up to the counter and declare, “Sign me up,” and feel good doing it.
1. The first time you go to the gym, do so in street clothes, the ones that Stacey and Clinton would give you two thumbs up for if you happened to stumble on to the set of What Not To Wear. You’ll feel more confident, and it allows you an opportunity to see what people at the gym are wearing.
2. Remember, you have the power. There are lots of gyms around. Let them court you a bit. The membership salesperson should make you feel welcomed without doing a full court press to have you sign up immediately. Take your time as you tour the gym. You should be evaluating the equipment and facilities, while also noticing the members and how they’re interacting with each other and with the trainers. Hopefully you’ll be spending a decent amount of time there. Does it seem like the kind of place you’d like to hang out? If it were a bar, would you go there to grab a drink?
3. Go buy some new workout clothes. You don’t have to spend lots of money, just get a few things. You’ll feel better, especially at first, if you blend. (Avoid red unitards.)
4. Read up. Get some fitness books from the library or bookstore. If you’ve worked out before they will refresh your memory and get you excited to get back to it, and if you’re brand new to the gym scene they will acquaint you with the basics. Grab some fitness magazines at the newsstand as well. You’ll feel cooler when you can say, “I saw this article in Shape last week…”
5. Also, grab a friend. There is strength in numbers. Have them join with you.
6. Get to know the people who work the front desk. Make eye contact. Introduce yourself. Smile. They are the gatekeepers to your gym experience. You are much more likely to return to a place where you are greeted warmly, and by name. And you will be making their day a little brighter too. I fear the front desk workers are sometimes overlooked as people thrust their passes at them and rush off to their workouts. Remember, what goes around comes around.
7. I like to add a soundtrack to my life because, well, because I’m ridiculous. Whatever. It works for me. Walking in to a new gym necessitates songs along the lines of LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy And I Know It,” or perhaps “Lady Marmalade” by Christina Aquilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink. Come to think of it, anything by Pink would do it. Hear a song that makes you feel confident, something that can give you just a touch of swagger, even if it’s all just happening inside your head. (It’s probably best not to actually jump up on the front desk and break out in to song. Save that for once you’re a regular.)
8. Don’t let the 20 year old who resembles a Swedish high fashion model scare you. She can’t help it that she’s beautiful.
9. Know that the trainers and fitness instructors want you to succeed. Let them know you’re new. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. They were all new once too. They understand. Yes, that’s right! Even the trainers at one time had to learn their way around the gym. The Body Pump teacher wasn’t born with a barbell in her hands, (her mother is so grateful.)
They are in the fitness industry because they’re interested in health and well-being, theirs and YOURS!
10. Act like you belong, because you do. You are an amazing superstar of a human being, capable of doing hard things, like recognizing when you need to make changes in your life and doing something about it.
I don’t care if you’ve never lifted weights, if you have two left feet in Zumba, or aren’t quite sure how to set up the damn bike in spin class. You will learn! Feel your own power. Own it. It doesn’t matter if you’re 50 pounds overweight, or if the 5 lb dumbbells are too heavy, or if 10 minutes on the treadmill winds you. No big deal! You are on your way! The times they are a changin’! As you work out, focus on your health, and know that if you do the work, your body will respond, that every day you will be getting stronger. I’m laughing as I write this because a new song just popped up in my juke box of a brain…Kanye West’s Stronger.
ALL ON BOARD FOR NEW YOU CITY!!!