“If you get through the door, you’re already winning”
The gym experience is different for everyone. How we perceive gyms and gym culture is going to differ. That being said, there are ways to understand this new world if you have never set foot in a gym or changing to another. Thinking of them as anything other than positive places is simply a waste of time and energy.
Psychological factors are unfortunately the biggest components of any culture and how you fit in. They are also the biggest reasons why some people don’t begin. Having awareness of how things work in these spaces removes most of the irrational anxiety. You stand a better chance that you continue your training (which is paramount), if you check off some boxes.
Like everything to do with fitness or physical training, we have to establish your purpose first. Your purpose is likely to fall into two categories: Fat loss or muscle gain. Anything outside of those is likely to be secondary in importance and with few exceptions.
If you want to get buff, then most gyms will do if you’re concerned with cost and location. Most gyms have basic machines and light work equipment that will help you get started. So make sure the economical and logistical boxes are checked off but don’t be cheap if you can help it.
Look for the type of gym that suits YOU.
One example is “Womens only gyms” for a variety of reasons: Lack of male influence,more female comradery and a less “douchey” behavior, both male and female. Knowing yourself is key. If you’re easily intimidated, go for something more private. Get a coach or a buddy to keep you motivated and focused on the work at hand. The following should give you an idea of how to orient yourself:
- Budget gyms and Franchises, Recreation Centers, family owned local gyms.
- Niches: Womens only, Private, Crossfit
- Sport Specific; Martialarts, Track and Field, Olympic/Powerlifting,
You now know that you want to have something close, relatively inexpensive and have a moderate level of commitment like a 3 month term.
If your making regular and mid range payments, you’re likely to continue. See it through, learn, and you will have time to notice your accomplishments.
So do you need a sport specific gym? A niche gym?
Not if you’re just starting out. If you’re trying to emulate your favorite Sports athlete or instagram athlete, then you need to seek out a coach. A gym with a wider variety of equipment and personnel will be very valuable. Some franchises like Snap Fitness, Golds gym and Anytime fitness offer the most options that will allow you to explore and experiment. Big box gyms like Planet Fitness should be your last option. These gyms will likely make you feel like a number. They’re the least useful unless you have no other options.
Now you know who you are and what you want and what you don’t want. You are trying to lose fat or gain muscle. You want the lowest barrier for entry but not too cheap (you get what you pay for). You don’t want or need a sport specific gym (yet) but you do want options in terms of support and equipment.
Psychological factors that could be much deeper than low self esteem could stop you from here but remember that it’s mostly in your head. Starting out is exhilarating and not scary. Most of the high school mentality has been quashed from the majority of gyms, so you can rest your mind. Health is important, body image is less so know who you are, what you want or don’t want and have fun. If you can’t, the loony bin might have a gym you can use.
Just ride the wave.