Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Gym?

24/02/2015 13:57 GMT | Updated 22/04/2015 10:59 BST

For some people, starting out at a gym can often be a daunting experience. They can be places that fill you with abject terror; bristling with their own social etiquette and filled with people who you are sure you just won't get on with, and then there is the feeling that all eyes are on you, the 'newbie'.

You will probably feel that for you to really get anywhere, you will have to try and forget about all of that stuff, bite the proverbial bullet and, as one sporting behemoth puts it, "just do it".

But do you?

These experiences, especially if they are negative ones, can make a huge contribution to your decision to stay and keep working or to flee back to the comfort of your own surroundings, perhaps with a commiseration Mars Bar in your sky rocket.

But fear of the gym is nothing new.

It could be that the solution to combating this most heinous of fitness stumbling blocks lies within you, as only you have the answer to why you wanted to get started at the gym in the first place, so ask yourself the question, "why did I come?".

What's your motivation?

The trick is understanding that there are both strong and weak reasons for you finally braving the sweat and toil of gym life; like anything, it's just a case of recognising what a good reason is and what isn't.

The bad, weak reasons are the ones that include the opinions of others, for example, someone doesn't like the way you look or has ridiculed you because of your distinct lack of muscle (I've been there), or maybe you came because you think that it's the trendy and more popular thing to do.

Though arguably good enough logic to motivate some people, if you have an irrational fear of the gym, they are quite shallow reasons that clearly focus on what others think and expect from you, rather than the most important aspect of why you decided to go in the first place - what you expect from yourself.

Good, strong and clear motivating factors, for any new gym-goer, come from within. Like with learning to ride a bicycle or drive a car, you are motivated to do something because of a compelling reason to do it.

With the bike and the car the reason is very specific - they afford you the freedom to move around and travel to new places - An "I want to learn to drive so I can race around the Nürburgring" sort of thing.

It is with these precise motivations that you are going to succeed, because you are more motivated to be a success at something when there is a compelling reason to do it.

Reasons like wanting to lift weights so you can excel at a certain sport, or deciding to take a yoga class in order to calm and clear your mind are more personal to you than just wanting to get thin or more muscular because of what someone else thinks.

If you do decide to take the plunge and get yourself into a gym, it is best to have a clear understanding of why you want to be there and what you think will happen.

But let's be clear on this, the correct motivation isn't the be-all-and-end-all of your problems, it simply acts as a solid foundation for you to work from. It can help to keep you focused and, if things all seem a little too much, allow you to rationalise your thoughts.

With the right motivation you'll be able to remember why you started in the first place and strive to go further still.

And maybe, after a few early teething problems with equipment and perhaps the odd weekend warrior that thinks he owns the place giving you 'the eye', you will find that your strong motivations have led to you having some semblance of confidence about yourself and your abilities.

You may even begin to feel like you belong a little more.

And if you don't, try not to worry. The gym isn't for everybody. Maybe it's a sign that you shouldn't train at a gym at all. Perhaps it would be better for you to just eat a little healthier and take a lot of walks. There's no shame in it.

Obviously having a plan in place to keep healthy is important, but going to the gym is just one plan, so remember that there's more to life than conquering fears, especially if that fear doesn't matter in the first place and let's be honest, who doesn't like the odd Mars Bar every now and then?

For more help and advice on all things gym related, visit my blog at