Now that it’s summer, I’ve seen that the trend of going to the gym is resurfacing. Many people want to attend the gym to work out and get a perfect beach body, to participate in the bootcamp training sessions that are instructed by coaches, or to hang out with friends who are working out at the same time.

I’ve observed that many people, including myself at first, have been terrified of going to the gym. I would think to myself, “What if people were judging me? What if they laughed because I don’t know how to use a machine? What if I hurt myself by pulling a muscle?”

But I’ve realized that we should not expect to be perfect at everything the first time we walk into the gym, many machines have instructions written on them, and working out in any way requires time and patience.

It is important though to know what to avoid before you walk into the gym for the first time. So, let’s address how not to approach.

Many people face the phenomenon of ego-lifting. This is when a person has the desire to lift a load of weights they cannot handle or they overexert themselves on a machine to impress others.

Imagine there’s a person in the gym looking at you. You load 100 extra pounds onto the bench press to impress them. Not only were you not able to lift it, but that person got icked out, and you’re also in need of serious medical attention.

Though impressing people can be cool, it is not worth tearing a muscle over. The point of going to the gym in the first place is to improve your health and get stronger. This means picking a weight that you can move with correct form, and going at your own pace, to maximize your performance.

Along with avoiding Ego-lifting, you should also stop worrying about others.

Everyone, most likely, has gone through the same emotions that you are going through right now. Those people at the gym have conquered the same fears you have, so they probably understand and aren’t judging. A good reliever of this thought could be being aware that no one cares. Most people are at the gym for their own reasons and are focusing on themselves.

Many people also shy away from the gym because the first thing that intimidates them is the use of machines. Firstly, many of the machines at the gym are required to have a sticker on them with step-by-step instructions and pictures of how to use those machines. Sometimes when I feel like trying a new machine, I glance over the labeling, follow the steps, and eventually get the hang of it.

For some people, this way of learning how to use the machines is not enough, so another trick could be to watch how the person is using the machine previously and learn visually. Another option would be to use the Internet. Nowadays, there are many videos on YouTube that explain how to use machines as well. After this point, if you still need help, you could resort to asking someone for help.

All in all, I found it is typically a person’s own overthinking that may stop them from going to the gym. I’ve come to realize that everybody may have the same insecurities as you, but once you get to the gym, nearly everybody minds their own business.

There will not be people going out of the way to judge you, rather there are typically people there listening to their own music and focusing on themselves. You just have to remember that nobody is forcing you to train like an athlete on the first day, it’s OK to take it easy.

If it helps, consider going to the gym as just a way to get out of the house. Once you start overcoming the intimidation of the gym and going consistently, you will feel like you have more energy, that you are happier, and you will start to build a routine that brings structure into your life, with the added bonus of seeing the physical results that will follow.

Prishaa Vala