Joining a gym can be very intimidating to a person who has a lot of weight to lose. You pull into the parking lot and see trim, tight bodies walking through the door and suddenly you feel hopeless. Deep inside you know you could never be that trim. Fear overcomes you as you wonder how you will be received by others inside. Something tells you that you will be laughed at and ridiculed as you listen to people whispering behind your back.
I remember well the day that I called and made an appointment at the local YMCA to talk to a fitness counselor. I weighed 295 pounds, and exercise was not a part of my vocabulary. Still, I had a deep yearning to be healthy and fit. Something inside kept telling me to call and make the appointment. I got in my car and drove to the YMCA. My stomach was churning. I felt sick. I sat in the parking lot for about 20 minutes, just looking to see if anyone as big as me walked through the doors. I saw no one other than perfectly sculpted bodies. I decided to forget it and go back home. At that moment, fate intervened. I turned on the car radio, and there was an ad playing for the YMCA, encouraging people to join and get healthy and fit in an accepting atmosphere. I knew it was no fluke that the message came on at that moment. I turned off the car and headed inside.
Walking through those doors was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. I felt as if every eye was upon me…even though they weren’t. I walked up to the front desk and asked to see the person my appointment was with. When she came out to me, she had the warmest smile and made me feel instantly at home. Soon we were chatting like old friends. Before my two hours was up, I had tried out the exercise bikes, the treadmill, and the stair climber. The trainer showed me how to adjust the machinery to suit my purposes.
When I left, I was beaming. I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. I felt so much better about myself just for having taken the initial steps toward better health. I felt so good that I went back the next day and the next day and the next. I became a regular at the local YMCA. The more I worked out, the healthier I began to eat. They seemed to go hand in hand. Soon the pounds began to melt away.
If you are overweight, but fear is holding you back from joining a gym, here are some things to remember:
-You are joining the gym for YOU…not for anyone else. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. As self absorbed as most people are, they probably aren’t thinking about you at all.
-It’s all about baby steps. Just because you see a lot of toned, tight bodies around you doesn’t mean they started out that way. For all you know they started out just like you. The reason they are toned and tight is because they took that initial step to join the gym.
-Easy does it! Set goals, but don’t set yourself up for failure. It can be very easy to overdo it when you first join a gym. Your extreme motivation and the positive feelings you get from doing something good for yourself can cause you to push yourself to the extreme. While it’s good to push yourself, you don’t want to push yourself to the point that you cause injury or burn out. When that happens, your exercise program will be stopped in its tracks. Setbacks such as these can cause some people to lose all motivation to even start exercising again. So remember. Easy does it!
-Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is a lot of equipment in a gym, and if used incorrectly, you can injure yourself. It only takes a few moments for a trainer to show you the proper way to use the equipment.
-Drink water. It’s very important to remember to stay hydrated when you are exercising. Drink a full glass of water before your work out, as well as during. When you work out, you sweat and it is important to keep those fluids replenished. Staying hydrated helps your body work more efficiently, and you burn more calories.
Don’t let fear keep you from the gym. (It kept me away from the gym for years and those are years I can never get back again.) Do it for yourself. You deserve it!