You know... you're probably not alone when it comes to your goals and your fears.
We're all different and what works for one of us, may not work for another, however, you have to start somewhere.
I tend to think we're most critical of ourselves. But the best way to start believing in your own potential is to set a realistic goal for yourself and achieve it.
If you're truly one of those types who is phobic about certain aspects of working out in a gym, then I'd say that you should go the extra mile and not only go to a gym but fork out a few bucks to hire a trainer also.
That way it becomes business and not personal. Once you get comfortable "at work" in the gym, then you should gain the confidence to do more and build friendships with people who can relate to you.
I know not everyone likes to work out with a trainer (I've worked out with 3 over several years), but you can gain a lot from that...
1) A trainer can help you set realistic goals.
2) A trainer can help you get started on a workout plan that is right for you.
3) And this may sound kind of silly, but if you have to pay for the time... well, you're more likely to stay committed.
4) Plus working out with a trainer that knows the gym can help you learn about the equipment (and how to use it).
5) A trainer can also help you learn to eat better, and that's a big part of it too.
Yes, hiring a trainer, in addition to a gym membership is not cheap, but it all depends on how bad you want to make a change.
I work out with a trainer 2 times a week and on my own 3 times a week, and regardless of the fact that I've worked out in gyms for years, I still feel I gain better results with a trainer that if I worked out alone because of the different perspective he gives me and the improvements that he can see in me that I can't.
Regarding that last part... Improvements he can see that I can't... I can tell a difference in myself, but someone who works out with you may see them better than you because they don't see you every day like you see yourself. It's a little thing that makes a big difference.
That's about motivation. There have been times that I've felt like I wasn't getting no where, when my trainer would prove to me otherwise. Again, it's about motivation.
In anycase, you just need to take that first step. Know that everyone of us has a "before" image and if we start and maintain a dedication to fitness we can achieve an "after" image.
Besides that, you'll never have a better "foundation" to build upon than you do right now... today!
If you increase your knowledge of what and how you need to do things in the gym, you'll increase your comfort level and you'll be able to contribute something when you do find some one to be in a "gym bunny" relationship. haha
I hope I wasn't too far out in the left field with my thoughts in relation to your question... ;)