by Matt Weik
For those of you out there who are just starting out in your health and fitness journey, you may find yourself hating the mirror and hating clothes. It’s common, and you’re not alone. The one thing that most people seem to forget about is that everyone starts somewhere. We all come in various shapes and sizes, skin color, and gender. Yet, there’s one thing that you have when you start your health and fitness journey — a community of support.
Despite what you have stuck in your head, everyone is rooting for you to succeed and get healthy. Don’t allow the misconception that people will be judging you to stop you from putting one foot in front of the other. Let’s dive a little deeper into all of this.
The Gym is Your Sanctuary, Not a Place of Scrutiny
The first few days that you step in the gym, many feel as if every single person in the gym is looking at you. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. That being said, I have never met anyone in the gym who ever judged someone who is overweight for being in the gym. In fact, just the opposite.
The gym is one gigantic dose of support. Now, I’m not going to sugarcoat things, there may be some pompous assholes who may say something stupid. And honestly, they’re the people no one likes anyway, and you’ll probably find them by themselves in the gym. Pay them no attention. Zero.
But the people in the gym, they are all there for the same reason and goal — to get fit and healthy. If you were to ask anyone a question in the gym, I’m willing to bet they will be more than happy to help you and answer any questions you may have.
Circling back to my statement that everyone started somewhere, the gym is full of motivation. Strike up a conversation with people around you. You may find that the person who looks like they’re in incredible shape could have been severely overweight for most of their life. They may be able to relate to you and give you some advice and pointers.
Then on the flip side, you may look around at all of the “skinny” people and think how “nice” it must be to be thin and not spend so much time worrying about what you eat and endless hours of cardio. But on the contrary, those individuals actually have their own set of challenges. More than likely, they’re trying to do the opposite of you. They actually want to gain weight. Weird, right? But being skinny is just as harsh in this world as being overweight. Sure, over 60% of adult Americans are overweight, but those who are incredibly skinny also lack self-esteem.
When people are skinny, they can generally eat everything in sight and never gain weight (what nice problem to have, right?). But, because they are thin and frail, their strength is low, they have no musculature, and they are probably eating as many calories as you do each day without gaining weight. They would do anything in their power to put on size and mass. Maybe they were bullied as a kid in school because they were the “skinny kid,” and bullies saw them as an easy target. The point being, everyone started somewhere and had a reason for why they started on their journey. You are no different.
The Only Stupid Questions Are the Ones Not Asked
During the first few days and even weeks of joining a gym and getting your schedule down, you may be somewhat timid in the gym and shy. Totally understandable. It’s like being a kid and moving. That first day in your new school probably gave you anxiety. What will people think of you? Will you make friends? Will kids think you’re weird for being “the new kid?” As the school day progresses, you get more comfortable, and people start talking to you and vice versa. It’s no different when you join a gym for the first time.
The gym is like school — if you don’t understand something, you’ll generally ask questions. Just because you joined a gym and have that fancy gym membership card or key fob doesn’t mean you instantly gained all the necessary knowledge to get the results you desire.
Joining a gym can be overwhelming. I mean, look at any gym you’ve even been to in your life. There are a ton of free weights, cardio machines, and resistance training machines. People are jumping from one piece of equipment to the next, and here you are looking at the machine, questioning how you even get on it, let alone use it properly. Anyone new to the gym will say that there’s a little bit of a learning curve to understand how to set the equipment according to your stature. That’s where asking questions comes into play.
As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know, and if you want to get results from your time and dedication to the gym, you need to understand how to use the machines. So, ask. There are probably trainers around the gym who would be more than happy to show you how to use the machines. If not, ask someone nearby if they can help you with the machine(s) and how to use them properly. After all, the last thing you want to do is get hurt. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Have a trainer set up a workout for you if you are completely new to this and have no idea where to even begin.
What I’m getting at with this piece is that, whether you joined a gym or are working out at home, you can do this. Put one foot in front of the other and stay consistent with your workouts. Over time, you will start to see results. And you should be tracking your results, such as your weight on a weekly basis. The best feeling in the world is seeing the results. This journey is not going to be an easy one for you (or anyone), but it’s worth it. Put in the work, stay consistent, ask questions, and find what motivates you and use it as fuel. The first step of progressing through this is believing in yourself and taking action. You can do this.