Joining and attending a new gym is always a daunting thing. As a woman, going into a male-dominated environment and trying to navigate your way around equipment, some of which may be new, can be intimidating and I completely understand that it often feels like it would be much easier to just turn around and leave. I too have recently joined a new gym in a new country and have struggled with feelimg comfortable in their training-environment. And as much as I’d love to say “just own it ladies; be confident, own it, strut in there and forget what others think”, those words are often more easily said than done and feeling confident in a new gym does take time.
Here are a few tips I can offer for how you can feel comfortable in a new gym and new gym environment:
The first time you go to the new gym, make sure it isn’t during peak hour.
Try and time your first visit to the new gym at a time when the place is relatively quiet. Doing this will allow you to walk around, look at the equipment and familiarise yourself with your surroundings without feeling as though you are bothering anyone or feeling awkward. Or, if you can, ask a gym employee to show you around and show you pieces of eequipment that you may never have used before.
Go with a friend.
If you are in a new town, don’t sign up with a friend or don’t know anyone at your new gym, this may not be possible for you. I know it wasn’t for me this time around but I have previously gone into new gyms with friends and instantly felt more comfortable than I would have on my own. A friend can often be a better tour guide than a gym employee as they can tell you about machines that do or don’t work, where you might find equipment that is hidden, areas to stay away from, strange gym members and so on. They can also train with you and make you feel much more at ease in your new gym environment.
When we enter a new environment, we can often spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think. In a new gym, you could be thinking about if anyone is watching you, whether you look silly doing an exericse, whether people can tell you are new or something along those lines. I know I’ve thought all those things before when I haven’t felt confortable in my new gym environment and I’ve found that putting in headphones and turning up the music can often help those thoughts disappear.
Make your first training session in the new gym an unstructured one.
This is the tip that has helped me the most over the past week as I try to navigate my new gym. My last few sessions have been completely unstructured and training like that has allowed me to move from machine to machine as I feel comoftable and just try out the new equipment and weight levels without feeling pressured into doing a 100%-all-out session when I still don’t know where everything is located and what kind of machines are available there. If you walk into a new gym on your first day with a structured plan that you want to follow, you may find yourself becoming stressed when you don’t know where something is or how something works. Going into a new gym environment is stressful enough – don’t give yourself more to deal with by trying to follow a plan than may not completely fit/work with elements of the new gym you are in.
Just have fun and try to relax.
Too oftten we get caught up in trying to make a great first impression. Don’t try to do that in a new gym. Just have fun with it and enjoy learning everything about your new gym environment. You may think that everyone can tell you’re new and you may think you look silly as you try to naviggate your way around but to be honest, hardly anyone will be able to tell and besides, everyone was a ‘newbie’ at one stage. So just relax, have fun and you never know- looking like you’re a little lost may even help you to make new friends or training partners. Most gyms have a “greeter”; someone who says hi to all the new people and is genuinely friendly and willing to help. Most important, ensure you have a positive and friendly attitude and it won’t be long before you feel completely comfortable in your new gym environment.