I've never been a big lover of the gym. In fact I spent most of my life dreading the gym. The idea of working out while other people are watching you (I'm super self conscious about that), sweat everywhere, and lots of people who look much better than me doing their thing... It never really appealed to me.
However, working out at home wasn't working for me. Not only did it provide multiple distractions, but there is a limit to what you can do when you're living in an apartment built in the 70s and everything shakes just with doors closing... It didn't seem fair to my neighbors to be doing jumping jacks right above their heads.
So I finally signed up for a gym last summer, and surprisingly-I loved it. I slacked off for a bit, but I'm right back at it with some new found dedication, and many lessons learned that I'd like to share with you.
Lesson 1: Pretty much no one is looking at you.
Yes, the occasional person will glance your way, but for the most part people are much to wrapped up in what they're doing to worry about what you're doing. Just mind your own and they'll mind theirs typically.
Lesson 2: It's not just pretty people who go to the gym.
Yes, there are very pretty, muscly, tight-butted individuals at the gym. But there is also a wide range of other people at the gym. People who are bigger than you, people who are skin and bones, people who are 60 years old and smell like cigarettes, etc. Trust me, anyone can go to the gym and no one will care-see lesson 1.
Lesson 3: Everyone looks ridiculous at the gym.
No joke. It doesn't matter what you're doing-you look silly. So get over your insecurity and just do your own thing. Even if someone did catch you being ridiculous, why would you care? They have their moments too!
Lesson 4: You wont know how to use all the machines.
Some machines look like some kind of foreign space ship and you find yourself just standing there staring at them like "WTF is this?" There are options.
Check the side of the machine, usually there is an instruction panel with images.
Ask an employee/trainer. Most will be happy to give you a quick demo.
If all else fails, wait for someone else to use it and do what they do. (be careful!)
Lesson 5: Couples are even weirder at the gym.
Not all couples, but there will be several times you see a couple working out together and it's bordering on a porn-video. They're loud, they're in your face, and they're all over each other in all their sweaty grossness. You'll just have to ignore it.
Lesson 6: People are loud. Bring headphones.
The gym is a loud place, and people are even louder. Whether it's the sound of grunting and weights hitting the floor too hard or the sound of the two teenage girls gossiping on the machines next to you, it's best to be prepared. Bring headphones. Most gyms have TVs going so you can watch something, but I much prefer either my audio book or a workout playlist on my phone.
Lesson 7: Don't wear too much perfume/cologne to the gym.
This is one of the biggest bothers I have with the gym. I'll be working out and some girl will get on the machine behind me and all of the sudden I can't breathe because I'm overwhelmed with some sickening perfume smell. It's fine to have a little dab of something mild, but everyone gets sweaty at the gym. Don't inhibit my breathing because you're really only there to pick someone up-it's awful and makes those around you miserable.
Lesson 8: Wipe down your machine.
Yes, everyone sweats. This is why the gym provides napkins and disinfectant-no one wants to put their hand in a puddle of someone else's sweat, drool, and snot. It's gross! Wipe it down when you finish.
Lesson 9: Free weights might be hard to get to.
Depending on when you go to the gym, you may have a hard time getting time with the free weights and sometimes-people aren't even using them anymore they're just holding on to them and preening in front of the mirror. It's a sad but true fact-so if you see an opportunity go for it! (And seriously, there will be muscle guys just staring at themselves in the mirror for an hour-possibly in your way.)
Lesson 10: You will feel like a badass.
After every successful workout, no matter how exhausted or sore you are, you will feel like the biggest badass you know. Roll with it! Walk with confidence, drink some water, and be proud of what you've done!