There are many frightening things in life. Dark alleys, horror movies, moving across the country without a place to live. Not like that last part is currently relevant or anything…
But there used to be one place above all that I was terrified of going. I thought it would be the worst experience of my life. I had to talk myself into even visiting just to look around.
Yeah, I know, you probably go there all the time, and so do I. But there was a time when I almost let my fears bring all my progress to a halt. After beginning to lose weight by walking, hiking, and jogging, I was ready for the next step. I knew I needed more from my exercise routine, and logically, that next step would be found in a gym.
I had no desire to step foot in a gym. I mean, I really really didn’t want to go. I figured I would be surrounded by strong, beautiful people working out their already perfect bodies, and there’s me, just a super fat 400 pound freak show who doesn’t know how to do anything.
I let my fears win out for weeks while I had an internal struggle with myself. Finally, I decided to just go and check it out. I walked into my local leisure centre (public recreation building) and asked to tour the gym. They told me to go right ahead, wander through and have a look.
I timidly walked down the hall and toured around, looking at all the equipment, and yes, all the perfect looking people. There were so many buff dudes in that weight room, that I still remember some of those arms. I definitely left feeling intimidated.
There were two deciding factors that led me to actually enter the gym for the first time.
First, it was quickly getting colder out as winter approached, and my nightly walks were getting worse and worse as I was freezing my butt off every day, and I really had no desire to be outside in the middle of winter, in the cold pouring rain or snow and ice.
Second, it was almost December, and I knew January was soon after that. January of course, brings all the new people who make resolutions to work out and be healthy. I didn’t want to be part of the crowd that joins just because it’s something to do. I wanted to establish myself as a regular before a bunch of new people came after January 1.
So I joined up and had an orientation with a trainer as early as possible in the day, at 7:00am. I wanted to be there with as few people as possible. It was quiet and just as I hoped, there were only a few others there. The trainer was incredibly nice and friendly, teaching me how to use a wide variety of weight machines properly, and offered to help me with anything else at any time if I had questions.
I started going regularly first thing in the morning, and was there almost every day. The only people there that early were mostly retired seniors, and that was just fine with me! When January rolled around, I noticed a large increase in people but I knew that the regulars recognized me already, and that made me feel comfortable.
Suddenly, as time went by I realized it wasn’t so scary. I had people that I recognized, and I knew they recognized me. But I never ever felt judged. In fact, all I ever found at the gym was constant support and encouragement. The trainer checked in on me from time to time when he saw me working out, and I found myself getting better as time went on.
One time, there was a guy who came up to me who was a body builder. He was absolutely built. He told me he had seen me working out and was impressed by what I was doing, and to keep it up. That meant a lot to me, and that was some encouragement that I have carried with me for years.
You see, in my experience, nobody at the gym is judgemental. Everyone focuses on themselves, and occasionally takes note of someone who is willing to work hard and better themselves. When that happens, they are all supportive and encouraging.
Don’t ever let your fears stop you from making the change in your life that you know you want.