Gym Intimidation: Our Letter to You

You reluctantly walk into the gym for the first time. 

Congratulations by the way. We know you’ve been thinking about this day for a long time now.

Just when you thought you had the courage to make your first visit, that courage vanishes, as if it’s playing a cruel game of hide and go seek. 

This stop-and-go cycle of courage has kept you from taking this gigantic step forward. Today, you actually came. So congratulations. 

When you walk in, what you see is pretty much what you expected. Lots of fit people. Lots of equipment you don’t have the foggiest clue how to use. 

Your desire to get in shape is quickly crushed by your desire to turn and run. 

You haven’t even begun and this already seems so overwhelming. Suddenly, this whole thing seems like a bad idea. 

You want to go back home. Back to your routine. Back to the comfort of familiarity. 

But you don’t. 

You feel out of shape. Your clothes feel clingy, exposing parts of you that you aren’t prepared for people to see. You feel weak. You feel like you don’t belong. 

The level of discomfort you’re feeling is pushing the limits of what you feel you can handle. 

“Everybody starts somewhere.” you tell yourself. 

You read online that squats are a great exercise for your lower body. You want a better lower body. 

As you begin to do your first couple of squats, you feel weird doing the movement. You read that you’re supposed to sit back as you squat, but you feel ridiculous as you push your hips back. 

Instead, you want to fold up and disappear. 

You reluctantly push onward. 

You make it through a few exercises, and you are made painfully aware how out of shape you are. 

As if comparing yourself to everyone else in the room wasn’t hard enough, feeling exhausted after just a few exercises is really driving it home. 

A flurry of negative thoughts hijack your mind. 

“I can’t do this.”

“I don’t belong here.”

“I’m too out of shape to be here.”

“Everyone’s looking at me.”

Listen, you showed courage today. Real courage. 

You faced a brick wall of fears and busted it down with a sledge hammer. 

Anyone who is willing to charge forward when faced with fears and insecurities has what it takes to get into great shape. 

As you look around the room, I know it seems like everyone there is fit. There are a lot of people lifting heavy weights, and doing some impressive things. 

From the outside looking in, it looks like a whole bunch of fit people celebrating their fitness. It feels like you have nothing to celebrate, so you shouldn’t crash the party. 

Let me tell you, the gym is not a place where fit people celebrate their level of fitness. 

Every one of those people, no matter how fit and confident they appear, walked into the gym for the first time, and they all remember that day. 

They were scared too. They know how you feel. 

They also don’t see themselves under the same light that you’re shining on them. 

Everyone in this building is here to make a change. They are trying to construct themselves into something better than they currently are. 

Actually, this sounds a lot like what you’re trying to do. It sounds like you fit in here just fine. 

You’ll be a great fit for this brother and sisterhood we call the gym. 

I know you don’t feel confident in what you’re doing. That’s OK. If you walked into the gym for the first time and knew exactly what you were doing, well, that would be weird. 

You don’t have the confidence yet. But you will. Confidence comes with action. Just keep going, keep trying and keep practicing. You’ll be surprised how quickly you become one of those people who walks in and slides into their routine without a second thought. 

More than anything, your level of fitness or your ability to do certain exercises doesn’t dictate your belonging here. 

You belong here because you showed up. Because you’re here to evolve. Because you’re here to become better than you currently are.

You’re now part of a world wide brother and sisterhood. 

Welcome to the family.

Written by Mitch Heaslip