Going to a new gym can be scary, right? You think to yourself about how everyone there will be all fit and strong. You picture yourself out of breath, flushed, and sweating profusely. You picture yourself barely keeping up with the class and holding everyone up. And it’s all that much worse if you already don’t feel great about your body.
Well, we have good news—it’s normal to feel that way.
In fact, we recently asked our members about their biggest challenges when they were getting started at our gym, and how they overcame them.
Here’s a collection of their answers—we think they’ll sound pretty familiar.
You feel afraid of falling behind or holding people back
How many times did I hear myself think “who are you kidding, you can’t do this?” But I heard others say “you can do this” and “yeah, you can’t do it now, but keep at it and you will be able to do it soon” and turns out they were right.
I still can’t do it all, but I do things now that 6 months ago I thought were simply beyond my physical ability to do. I love my new muscles and my new strength and I love the cheering section that is always there to boost my morale and strengthen my resolve.
Little bits of progress that feel good pile up into really gratifying measurable changes in body shape, body strength, and emotional resilience and contentment. Now I can’t imagine not doing it!
I’d never been to a gym before, other than a handful of times trying to convince myself to run on a treadmill. I didn’t know any of the movements or terminology (“which one is the barbell and which is the dumbbell??”) and I had to keep reminding myself (still do sometimes!) that I am doing this for me and for my health, not to be the “best” in the room (whatever that means).
You feel frustrated that stuff that used to be easy now feels really hard
I used to lift and work out and do yoga all the time, but had really fallen out of my practices for the past 5 years. It took SO MUCH EFFORT to get myself to sign up for the gym. Then it took SO MUCH self talk to get myself to attend classes. And then I stopped for about a month and even tried to cancel my membership (through no fault of B&B AT ALL). But now, FINALLY, I’m back to attending regularly.
My issue was that I had once been in great shape, really strong and fit and it was so hard to come back after so long and see all the gains I’d lost. I’m not back to where I was, and maybe I’ll never be, but maybe I can surpass where I was or go in a completely different direction. My mantra right now is, “Trust the process.”
You feel awkward, uncoordinated, and weak
I think a good piece of advice I’ve heard from people in this group is that we all start where we’re at. There’s nothing wrong with not being at the same level as someone else when you start because they aren’t you, they don’t have your struggles, your history, your body, or your mindset. The only thing that really matters is that you started.
My first day, I almost didn’t come back. It was scary to come in to someplace where nobody knew me, and be really bad at stuff. Not just stuff, but warm-up stuff, which felt like a real low point. That first day, I was shocked I made it to the end of the workout.
When I did, and Emily checked in with me about when I’d be back again, I said I didn’t know, and that even getting here today was scary.
Another member reached out and reminded me that it’s OK to be bad at stuff, because it’s the worst I’ll ever be at it, and really made me feel like it mattered that I came back. And so I decided not to try and hide that I was struggling (as if I could have been successful at hiding it!) and embrace my sense of humor, and let people get to know me, and see my struggle, and that made a HUGE DIFFERENCE. Because we are all a lot more lovable when we are willing to be vulnerable, and I knew in my heart this was the community I needed in order to be successful.
Being too embarrassed about your body to even show up at the gym.
Anytime I’d peer through the window of a gym, no one inside looked like me. I feared the gym would just be the next spot I would be the fattest person in the room…and felt like being that person at a gym would be the worst. I feared being judged or worse yet pitied. It was hard for me to comprehend being motivated by something other than shame. I’m still working on overcoming it by showing up. The encouragement and community I’ve encountered keeps me coming back.
I would just have to jump out of bed and show up before I had a chance to think about it. Lay out my clothes the night before, not look in the mirror.
Feeling like it takes a long time to see a return on your investment
It’s super frustrating when you put in a lot of hard work but you don’t feel like you’re any closer to your goal body weight, goal fitness level, goal lifting weights, etc. I think that’s what leads a lot of people to give up.
For me, when I feel this way it helps me focus on the smaller victories instead of the huge goals.
I might not be able to squat 300+ lbs like I wish I could, but I can squat 30 lbs more than I could 2 months ago, which is amazing. I still can’t do more than 1 full push up, but I can plank for over a minute straight now, which I definitely couldn’t do even 3 months ago.
Overcoming inertia—feeling like once you slow down, it’s hard to get it going again.
For me, it’s always about overcoming the inertia and accepting where I am when I begin again. Maybe I’ve lost a step, maybe I’ve gained weight. But the most important part is accepting myself and beginning again.
Finding something that makes me happy, where I can be challenged and successful is what helps me to get the work in.
Convincing yourself that self-care is important
Establishing myself and my workout as a priority. I work long hours, then I have an SO, pets, friends, family… it all takes a lot of time. I have to combat the “time” issue with thoughts like “An hour workout is only 4% of your day,” or “Do it like the airlines tell you, and put your mask on first.” Entering the first bombshell challenge that came up after I joined helped, too. It gave me extra incentive for getting there as often as possible. It’s now cemented in my head that the first thing I do every other morning is get up and go to the gym.
- Find small wins and celebrate them. Big goals are an excellent thing to have, but it can get discouraging if you don’t chunk them down to smaller short-term goals, you run a big risk of getting discouraged and quitting.
- It’s about self-care, not about being the best in the room.
- If you used to be fit and you feel like you have a lot of catch up to do, that’s actually a great thing—you have a really clear goal to work toward (and maybe even surpass!)
- It’s ok to be bad at stuff—it’s the worst you’ll ever be at it! Try to relax and embrace your sense of humor as you learn new exercises.
- Accept where you’re at now, and commit to starting fresh. A little self-compassion goes a long way toward overcoming inertia.
- Making time for self-care can be tough, but it pays off big. Do like the airlines say and “put your own mask on first.”
Have you overcome a big emotional roadblock in your fitness journey? We’d love to hear all about it! Tell us how you overcame your biggest challenge in the comments.
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