Intimidated at the gym

  • May 23, 2007 6:38 AM GMT
    I'm fairly new to the gym scene. I go to 24 hour which is often crowded and I don't know how to use 90% of the machines. I know I'll never learn if i dont try, but i'm too intimidated to try to sit there and figure it out. Any advice? I know the common sense answer, of just get over it and do it, but...

    thanks ahead of time..
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    May 23, 2007 9:24 AM GMT
    Speak to the people who run the gym. It is their job to ensure that everyone in their establishment knows how to use the equipment and can make full use of it. Ask them to create a training programme for you and use them to help you come up with some short term and longer term goals.

    Don't be intimidated by anyone in the gym. Remember we all started off as beginners!

    Best wishes.
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    May 23, 2007 11:56 AM GMT
    To ease you over the hump, you might consider hiring a trainer just for a week or two to set up a routine for you and show you how to use the equipment you need.

    You don't have to start out using EVERYTHING in there - just a few pieces at a time.

    In 12 or 13 weeks, go back to him for a new workout with all different equipment. After you've done this a couple of times, you'll be one of the more well-informed people in there, I'll bet.

    Good luck! And the previous poster was right on target - we ALL started at the beginning....

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    May 23, 2007 2:33 PM GMT
    ... Or use this as an opportunity to talk to some of the hotter guys working out there. Smile apologetically/sheepishly and confess you've never used the machine before and ask him if he has a moment to describe proper form to you.

    Or pick up a book and study it before each time you go to the gym. Stick to learning a new machine or two each time so you can retain all the info and details of proper form, no need to rush.

    Good on you for asking, though. I don't go to gyms often, but a friend of mine who does comments about how often he sees guys there doing machines with form so bad they're just asking for injuries. Better to feel mildly embarrassed asking for help than throwing out your back, or something!
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    May 23, 2007 3:14 PM GMT
    When I first started working out I found a book titled Basic Training. It starts with the basics, of course: proper form, use of free weights, exercises without weights, and nutrition. It also cover grooming tips and workout plans. And the writer and photographer are gay, so the pictures of men working out throughout the book are HOT, HOT, HOT!
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    May 23, 2007 3:25 PM GMT
    One I use is Matt Roberts "Muscle Up". It has 2 programmes of illustrated exercises which are easy to follow for the beginner. There's also nutrition advice which is helpful.
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    May 23, 2007 4:38 PM GMT
    I'm still intimidated when I go too. I admit it. What helps me get through that is to just realize that people there are not worried about me and what I do. They are there for themselves. They're focusing on their own workouts and their own bodies. Probably no one even notices when I struggle on this or that machine.

    And if you really don't know how to use a machine then like the other guys mentioned, just ask one of the gym staff. Although as suggested earlier, a trainer would probably be your best option. Just be sure to hire one you are comfortable with and I think there's a whole thread on that in here.
  • gymingit

    Posts: 156

    May 23, 2007 4:40 PM GMT
    You may want to hire a trainer as the others have mentioned.

    I hired a trainer in Jan. and he preaches FORM. Each machine is different and you don't want to hurt yourself.

    Just so you know. I'm a beginner as well. I also have inches to lose before actually building, but because I was at zero with my upper body, I had to build up some right away.

    Setting goals is the other thing mentioned. You need to ask yourself where do I want to be in the next few weeks, months or years.

    Do you need to lose some inches first with more cardio and low weight/high rep to burn or are you ready to start building? Or was that even the plan, to build?

    How is your eating? Are you keeping your metabolism up?

    I learned so much in the first 30 minutes with just talking with my trainer.


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    May 23, 2007 4:59 PM GMT
    Def. talk to a trainer or one of the gym owners. They do not want to see anyone get injured. I would recommed getting a trainer for 1 week just to show you the correct form and function. Then go over what your fitness goals are with them. Don't be intimidated- go for it!! Good luck keep us all posted.
  • 2thTEE

    Posts: 637

    May 23, 2007 9:31 PM GMT
    Just ask the other people there or just google those exercises ( which will give you an idea on how to perform them ). If you are still doubting yourself, then just ask the personal trainers--they're usually pretty cool about assisting people. The gym shouldn't be a scary place =)
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    May 24, 2007 4:45 AM GMT
    if you can put up the few extra bucks to get a trainer. Its definitely worth the money. If not, just ask someone who seems like they know what they are doing. People are usually happy to help. Make sure you get a plan. Dont go into the gym without knowing what you are there to do otherwise you mihgt end up wasting your time.
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    May 24, 2007 5:25 AM GMT
    I too felt a bit intimidated when I first started working out, but the more you go, the more comfortable you become. You might want to try going during off-peak hours, at least at first. That way the gym wont be so crowded and you have the room to explore a bit without feeling lost.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    May 24, 2007 10:34 AM GMT
    First of all...
    Good you ya that your're getting out there and making a difference
    go to the gym management and tell them that you're new and need to be shown the equipment
    they'll have someone to show you how to use the machines that you're unfamiliar with
    ...a trainer is also a way to go but that will cost you money
    also and this is probably better is have a friend who's experienced with weights show you around
    ...most gyms have a friend policy and will allow friends in on a limited basis
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3462

    May 27, 2007 1:09 AM GMT
    You have to get over it and ask. If not a trainer, ask someone who looks like they know what they're doing. Most people are friendly. Just ask, "Hey, can you tell me how to use this/if I'm using this corretly?" Most people will answer. I was at the gym last night and this guy was using all sorts of equipment wrong, particularly the tricep machine. I thought he was going to pull a back muscle. I almost walked up to him to correct him, but I didn't. I have in the past, but wasn't up for it.
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    May 27, 2007 3:12 AM GMT
    Hey man, know exactly how you feel. When I started a little over 5 years ago I walked into a Gold's Gym...if that was not intimidating enough...and signed up, weighing all of 120lbs I could barely lift the bar during chest presses, but I forked over a little more money and hired a PT, the best advice he gave me was "try not to let all these guys intimidate you, remember they had to start somewhere too"...that did it for me. If you can't shell out the extra funds pick up some fitness mags some are very helpful and explain clearly the movements. And these guys are right just go up to someone that looks like he/she knows what they're doing and go from there. Good luck!
  • DrStorm

    Posts: 185

    May 27, 2007 4:06 AM GMT
    I go to 24hr Fitness - you get a free session with a trainer when you sign up. If you did not, ask for it.

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    May 27, 2007 6:17 AM GMT
    When I first started hitting the weights, I went in and made a list of what equipment was even available at the gym I was using, so that I could get some idea what my options were. Even while I was doing this, one of the staff members came up and asked if I needed help with anything, so I got him to show me how to work two pieces of equipment, figuring I could build from there. There are a lot of places that will give you instructions and pictures along the way--including this site.

    I had a good experience with an online personal trainer over at It was a lot less expensive than dealing with a personal trainer face to face at the gym, didn't require me to show up at specific times, and he ended up answering my questions and adjusting my routine within 24 hours of my providing feedback every time I did so. It is, admittedly, a bit more effort to deal with one online, though, as you have to be much more specific in wording your questions.

    As for asking another gym member, that depends on your confidence. You could try asking a hot guy as a way to start up a conversation. But if you're really interested in getting your form right, you might instead want to ask a woman using the machine who looks like she knows what she's doing. My experience is that the women who actually use a weight machine more often do so with proper form than guys do (probably because some guys just want to see how large of weight they can lift, even if their form is terrible, they're likely to hurt themselves, aren't isolating the right muscles, etc.), and a lot of them seem to get a huge kick out of explaining to a *guy* how to do so. The added benefit of starting with a machine is that you get a sense of what an exercise should feel like, a spotter isn't generally necessary, and you can get an idea of what your weight range is before you move over to trying the same thing with free weights.
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    May 27, 2007 5:42 PM GMT
    ......sorry I was checking out soccerboy! lol....ANYWAY,I remember how I felt the first time I went to the gym, my ex had taken me(I wonder if he was trying to tell me something >.< jk) to the local Ballys. I to was scared of the crowds of people, but I learned that if you go with a friend or two, and an mp3 player or ipod, then its fine. The two of you can always stick together and figure things out together. And the music helps because without it I find myself getting bored.

    But if I can't figure out a machine I ask my friend to help me, if we can't get it then I either ask the hott guy Richard(who will be my husband someday i SWEAR IT!!!! JK LOL) or anyone else that works there. Don't be shy to ask a question to them they know the answers and won't think little of you for asking
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    May 28, 2007 12:46 AM GMT
    Ask the staff for a walk through. They'll be happy to show you the proper function of any particular apparatus. Many trainers are effectively closely, so it can be a crap shoot.

    I'm constantly amazed at some of the really stupid stuff that goes on. Horrible lifting form; totally ill manners; zero common sense; even body odor.

    If someone looks like an idiot lifting, they likely are. Remember, it's not the weight you lift, but, how you lift it, along with nutrition, that's most important.

    There are 6.6 BILLION folks in the world. Don't be intimidated by the gym. No one at the gym gives it a second thought.

    Don't be a moron: pick up your weights. Never walk in front of someone who is doing something in the mirror. Be considerate and walk around them. It's an easy thing to do. Don't bug guys that look like they're into their workout. They likely are. If they give you body language that they are willing to talk, then, go for it.

    There's a large number of sites with instruction.

    There's a large number of publications with instruction.

    Likely there's a member at the gym who is knowledgeable who will mentor you.

    Don't follow the example of clueless members.
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    Jun 02, 2007 2:54 AM GMT
    This might not really be what you're looking for, but most machines at 24 Hour have a little sign on them with illustrated instructions, that should help you out a bit.
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    Jun 02, 2007 4:23 AM GMT
    keep form in mind. dont just go at it like a crazy person like a lot of people do. If you don't know what the right form is, ask someone or look it up.