I’ve always said that if I opened a bar instead of a gym, I’d have no trouble getting all of my friends to come. But instead of serving up beer and nachos, I’m asking them to try a fitness class. Oh, the humanity.
Judging from their reactions, asking people to work out is apparently worse than asking them to help you move. And that usually includes beer.
There’s a glaring reason that it’s like pulling teeth to get my friends to workout: working out is work and I’m asking them to work. There’s a reward, but it’s work. Seriously, say “work” again. So what’s the big deal? My friends are cool. They’re not afraid of work. Stop it.
Then I realized the not-so-glaring reason: It’s intimidating.
Some of my friends are social butterflies who can walk into any room, pick a person and start a conversation. But what about the others? What about my friends who want to improve their health and are interested in group fitness, but are more nervous than a virgin at a prison rodeo?
Then it hit me: These are my friends. What about the non-social people who don’t know a single person at the gym?! YOWZA. Intimidation level: maximum . So there’s my focus.
This is an open letter to anyone who has ever wanted to improve your health through group fitness but you’re absolutely terrified of starting. Not because you’re afraid to put in the work, but because you’re intimidated by the idea of a room full of strangers who you assume are judging you, your body and the way you move.
I understand that fear and I see it in a new person’s nervous eyes when they come through the doors for the first time. I recognize it because that was me on my first day. What do I do? I don’t want to mess this up. I’m scared.
Three suggestions for overcoming your intimidation:
- Whether you’re in Indianapolis or somewhere else in the world, find a place where you feel like you fit in. At my studio, our community is comprised of all shapes, colors, jeans sizes and wine preferences. We like it that way. I’ve modeled it so that one of the most consistent compliments we receive is about how “judgement-free” our instructors and members are. Never let yourself feel like an outsider. Being comfortable is key.
- Never be afraid to ask questions. Even tons of questions. I’ve never done this before… can you help me? What can I expect? What should I wear? Do you have an accountability partner program? I don’t want to look like the Incredible Hulk or Ally McBeal… what should I do? No question is a stupid question and your gym should be understanding of your need to get all the info.
- Be willing to take a chance on you. Intimidation is an interesting thing: you can let it control you or you can take control of it. You can let it stand in the way of a great opportunity, a healthier body, a happier lifestyle, etc. Or you can rise above it and blow your own damn mind.
Never be afraid to ask questions. Even tons of questions.I’ve never done this before… can you help me? What can I expect? What should I wear? Do you have an accountability partner program? I don’t want to look like the Incredible Hulk or Ally McBeal… what should I do? No question is a stupid question and your gym should be understanding of your need to get all the info.