Disclaimer: This is in no way meant to overlook the feelings of men in the weight room I simply have a female perspective because I am one. Nor is it meant to classify all men that go to the gym as depicted below. It is simply a blog about my experiences within a university gym and what I find works best for getting over the noobie butterflies.
Starting a new fitness journey can be intimidating. Fear rooted in the unknown is what I find often holds people back from committing to either starting or increasing their active lifestyles. How do I use this machine? How much weight is enough? Where are the weights? What the hell does this thing do? Oh my god I look so stupid, I can't do this, everyone can tell I have no idea what I'm doing, GET ME OUT OF HERE.
Relax. We have all been there. Whether you're completely new to working out or are just starting to intensify your training, the weight room can be a scary place. Huge, sweaty bros tossing around massive dung-bells and chugging protein shakes isn't exactly the most reassuring sight for someone who has never lifted weights before. But don't let their biceps intimidate you; after all, no one is born with arms the size of Pop-eyes. Those sweaty bros started exactly where you are. Here are some hints and tips that I found (and still find) helpful when using a busy weight room for the first time.
Go during the slow hours of the day
This may mean waking up at 5am to get to the gym for when it opens but you will find it much easier to concentrate on learning how the machines work with less people waiting around to use them. This tip is also helpful for the seasoned weight-lifter as it prevents interruptions (i.e. waiting for a machine being used) of your workout.
Don't be afraid to ask questions
The employees at the gym are not there to simply watch you sign in and out. They are fully educated and trained to help show you how to use their equipment, so ask! The last thing you want to do is injure yourself attempting to complete an exercise incorrectly.
Make up a circuit that uses both familiar and new moves
Just because you are starting a new stage of your fitness does not mean you can't incorporate exercises you are already familiar with. By incorporating these exercise you can ease your way into feeling comfortable with different weights and equipment, without feeling overwhelmed.
Find a workout buddy
Perhaps one of your friends is familiar with your gyms weight room and can tag along for your workouts until you feel comfortable. If not grab a friend anyway and concur the challenge together. It is always easier to deal with change when you have someone there to support you.
Hire a personal trainer
Many gyms - especially university run fitness centers - offer short term personal trainers for affordable prices. Many of the trainers at my school's gym are upper year kinesiology students that have completed the required certification for assisting you in your fitness goals.
Make a badass playlist and ignore any self doubt you may feel
No matter how "stupid" you think you may look trying to figure out that weight machine, or how "pathetic" you think you are compared to the people lifting double the amount of weight, ultimately you are there for your workout, not theirs. Anyone who would waste their time judging someone for being new clearly is not there to better themselves and are not as dedicated to fitness as their biceps may suggest. Do your thing and do it for you!
photo credit: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/girls-who-lift