Walking into a gym for the first time can be an embarrassing experience. You might be self-conscious that you’re too out of shape while everyone else seems fit, or that you’re wearing the wrong clothes, or you might simply feel out of place. But it’s important to get through the paranoia and start exercising.

Anyone who tries to start an exercise program knows how difficult it is to stick with it for more than a few weeks. You may feel selfish for taking time out for yourself, or you’re too busy or tired to exercise. Some people find exercise boring and lose their motivation. But there’s an overlooked reason people may avoid exercising, and that’s embarrassment.

Anyone can feel a little nervous about exercising in public if they haven’t done it in a while. You might have thoughts such as:

  • I don’t know what kind of clothes to wear.
  • I don’t like the way I look. I’m too fat to exercise in public.
  • I’m so awkward. I’m afraid I’ll trip, or not know how to use a machine.
  • What if I break a machine?
  • I don’t know how to deal with the whole locker room scene.
  • What if it’s crowded and I have to stand around waiting to use the equipment? I’ll feel so uncomfortable.
  • I don’t want to have to talk to anybody.

How to Deal with Feelings of Embarrassment

Go Look Around: 

If you’re starting from scratch, look around. Have a look at the different gyms that are available to you, and consider which one might cater to more casual members.

In Thane, there’s a new Gym that is specifically for women. Visit their Facebook page,  a lot is happening over there: https://www.facebook.com/curvesforher/

Give yourself time: 

Give yourself time to adjust. Any new situation can be stressful. While some people adapt quickly, it may take some time for some. Don’t give up too soon. Persistence is key.

Dress for success:

Consider buying yourself one or two outfits for the gym that you feel good in. You want to tell yourself: Hey, I have a right to be here, just like anyone else. You don’t need to go overboard and buy a whole wardrobe, but find what you feel most comfortable with and stick with it.

Lose the fear: 

I know you’ve probably already told yourself this, but it’s really true: most people aren’t watching you or interested in what you’re doing. They’re off in their own little world listening to music or watching a TV while they exercise.

Turn jealously into joy:

At first, you may be jealous of all these young, fit people and the seeming ease at which they could do things like jump from the ground up six feet to the top of a stack of mats and lift heavy loads. Gradually your jealousy will transform into admiration. These young bodies are beautiful, and how wonderful these people are taking care of themselves.

Focus on the task at hand:

Switch your focus from those around you to how your body feels at it moves. This is especially important as you’re starting an exercise program. You want to listen to what your body is telling you so you don’t do too much and injure yourself. Once you actually start, your self-consciousness about what other people might be thinking of you is the last thing that matters, and the anxiety of getting started on a new endeavor will begin to fade.

Give yourself credit:

Finally, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. Developing a new habit is never easy, and if you’ve never had positive experiences with exercise, it can be even harder to get yourself moving. And remember, if you slip up and skip a few days (or a week), don’t forget, you can always begin again.

It can be nerve-wracking to take the plunge, but you’ll thank yourself later.