Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Too self-conscious to join the gym?
Throughout my career I have encountered many people who wanted to join a gym or exercise class but felt too self-conscious to do so.  I know as you read this you may be thinking “what does he know, he is a personal trainer!”. But actually I do feel I am qualified to empathise. Apart from the fact I have worked with countless clients who felt just like this and helped them to overcome their insecurities, I have personal experience….                                                       
I (try to) play the guitar and thoroughly enjoy doing so in the comfort of my own home. However, when I go into a music shop and see all these amazing, expensive guitars I feel very self-conscious about picking one up and playing it in front the staff and other enthusiasts who are sitting down playing some complicated solo or riff. I think the insecurity I have in my playing ability probably equates to a similar feeling of inadequacy you may have in your body. I do appreciate my scenario is not quite as emotionally charged and personal as this, but as far as walking into a foreign environment and putting yourself in front of others goes, it is the same.  
The big question is WHY should you feel like this? The simple answer is you shouldn’t. The gym is a place where you can build and develop your confidence which in turn makes you a more confident person in everyday life too. Try not to worry about how you think you may look to others. Everyone starts somewhere and presumably we all want to improve ourselves– that after all is the reason we join a gym in the first place. We are all in the same proverbial boat. Everyone has to start from scratch.                                 
My argument is that you are not going to help or change anything by avoiding taking action.  Be brave, choose to be fitter and healthier. I guarantee if you select the correct training environment, you will truly surprise yourself and surpass your own expectations. Lose your fear, take the plunge.  
Tips on how to choose your first gym.
Listen to recommendations – What do your friends and family say about places they have used? At JW CORE we believe very firmly in creating a comfortable, non-judgemental environment for our clients to train in and I think this is key. Unlike big chain gyms perhaps look for a smaller privately owned one where you are more than just a membership number.
Take a look around – It doesn’t take long to get the feel for a gym’s atmosphere. When you walk in, how quickly does a member of staff meet you? HOW do they greet you? Remember, you are the client and you will be spending your hard earned cash on a service / facility that can potentially be life changing. It has to be right for YOU.  It goes without saying that you should be treated and spoken to with care, consideration and respect. Far too many times have I seen customers walk into a gym only to be left standing at a desk or grunted at in response to a question! You should be and made to feel valued.
No doubt, the gym isn’t the place to stand around having long chats about nothing in particular but when you walk in take the time to notice: Is there a buzz to the place? Are the trainers interacting with the clients? Are the clients working out together and maybe even engaging in a bit of banter. I think these things are extremely important. A gym where people are smiling, laughing but working hard is a much more inviting prospect than those where everyone is stony faced with their earphones on, staring at other members or themselves in the mirror. I would firmly recommend that if there are a lot of gorgeous, made up people in all the designer gear standing around and posing in the mirrors, it probably isn’t the gym for a first time nervous exerciser. It is constantly mentioned to me that this is something people do not like about some of the more expensive gyms and that is why I set up JW CORE with no mirrors or TV’s, as a place to come and workout, not caring about what you look like. Look nice when you go out in the evening not when you are running around and lifting weights in the gym!
If you want to achieve results you must be seen regularly by a professional member of staff so check how often you are entitled to see a trainer. At JW CORE our trainers will interact with and train members every time they enter the gym. This ensures high motivation, constantly evolving programmes and correct techniques are being used by the clients. (It is also what our clients tell me sets us apart from all our competition.) At the very least, you should expect to have an induction and programme when you first join and to be seen every 4-6 weeks thereafter for a check-ups and updates to your programme. Unfortunately, this seldom happens so do check the gyms policy on this before you sign up.
The overriding factor in choosing a gym to join if you are insecure or self-conscious is comfort.  Ask yourself these following questions when you look at a new gym. If all your answers are yes then you will likely feel confident enough to exercise there in front of other people and achieve great things. If you answer no to any, please don’t just accept this as the way it is at all gyms. Take a look at some others. There are facilities like JW CORE where the aim is for our clients to answer yes to each question below.
1.      Do I feel comfortable here?
2.      Is it clean and tidy?
3.      Are the staff friendly, approachable and informative?
4.      Does it look like there is a strong support network amongst
         the trainers and other members?
5.      Are there any supervised classes or activities going on?
6.      Do the customers look like they are enjoying their experience?
7.      Does it have an authentic, genuine feel to it? 
            Remember too much fancy cosmetic imagery probably 
         means not enough substance.
8.      Is it functional for me? Is everything in good working order and can I see myself working out and improving here?
In summery don’t be put off going to the gym because of how you feel about yourself. Use these feelings as motivation to change. You can find the right place to work out and you can guarantee there is already someone there who felt just the same as you do when they started but now they feel 100% better in themselves. They took a chance, they joined up, persevered and got fit. So can you!