If you’ve ever tried to start an exercise program, you know overcoming obstacles is part of the drill. From identifying the best activity to carving out time for fitness, sticking to a new exercise regimen is tough. Perhaps the greatest challenge to getting yourself inside a gym? Embarrassment. Whether it’s your appearance or your fitness level that’s holding you back, self-consciousness is a key reason many people avoid exercise.
The hardest part is just getting started. Once you get yourself out the door and at the gym, it’s easier to stay on track.
Here are eight strategies to help you feel more comfortable in your own skin so you can boost your fitness level – both inside and outside of the gym:
- Buddy up. Whether you’re doing tricep dips during a deskside workout with a coworker, taking a new exercise class, or running up and down flights of stairs at the park with your kids, you’re less likely to feel self-conscious if someone is joining you.
- Work out at home. If your anxiety is paralyzing – and you’re too embarrassed to work out in public – the resources for home workouts are seemingly limitless with a simple Google search. Whether you prefer yoga or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you’ll find thousands of workouts right at your fingertips.
- Try a beginning exercise class. Classes can be intimidating – particularly if you try a high-intensity exercise like spinning or Zumba. But fitness classes that target new exercisers can be a great way to get moving and meet like-minded people. Plus, many studios and gyms offer one free class to new students so you can get your feet wet without diving all the way in.
- Get a trainer. While sessions with a personal trainer may cost a bit more, they’re a great way to familiarize yourself with the gym – and gym equipment – so you’ll feel less intimidated when you’re flying solo. Even more important, a trainer can ensure you have proper form to help you achieve your fitness goals.
- Do a deskside workout. It’s no secret that being tied to your desk isn’t good for your health. The good news: Deskside workouts can be surprisingly strenuous. Do pushups in between meetings, squeeze in a few lunges while you’re on a conference call or swap your chair for a stability ball.
- Start a fitness group. Often, the best place to start a new fitness group is at work. Many employees are seeking people they can walk with during their lunch hour – or who will stop, drop and do 10 pushups with them before a meeting begins. If you get your colleagues on board, you may find it easier to stick with a new workout regimen. If you’re not able to get an in-person group together, join an online fitness community for support.
- Buy new workout wear. If it’s in your budget, consider buying yourself new workout clothes that make you feel good about yourself. Whether you choose, body-slimming yoga pants or silky gym shorts, purchase something that feels good and fits well. Just avoid baggy or oversized workout wear since it’s more difficult to track your progress when you’re swimming in your clothes.
- Just do it. If there’s an activity you enjoy, start doing it. Love basketball? Visit the local park and start a game of pick-up. Find pleasure in dancing? Sign up for a swing dancing class or go dancing on a Saturday night with a friend. It doesn’t matter which activity you choose, the important thing is just to start moving.
Still embarrassed to get started exercising? Remember that most people are too busy studying themselves to be watching you. Plus, informal polls suggest that when people see out of shape exercisers hit the gym, they actually think positive things like, “Way to go!” and “Good for you!”
Finally, give yourself a pat on the back. Developing a new exercise routine is a big deal – and if you stick to it, you’ll not only feel more energized, you’ll be doing something positive for your health.
Lauren Rao is an athletic trainer with Henry Ford Health System and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in athletic training from Albion College and the University of Virginia, respectively. She has additional certifications as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA and as a USA Weightlifting Sport Performance Coach. She is currently assigned to work with athletes at Lawrence Technological University as an injury prevention specialist.
Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.