The Intimidation Factor

Below is an interesting article aimed at the general population in the fitness world. It’s cool to be reminded of what it was like when I first started working out, 30 years ago. I think we all need to remember what it was like to be a newbie.

The Intimidation Factor
By Gunnar Anderson

There are a plethora of stereotypes and stigmas that go along with gyms. To those who don’t go to a gym regularly, the culture there may seem strange and intimidating. A person who has just begun training may feel overwhelmed when surrounded by regular gym goers, but new comers should not feel intimidated.
Some people go to the gym to work towards their fitness goals. Others go simply to pass time, and still others go for the social environment. It depends on the gym. Someone who is serious about their training may not want to join a family YMCA. Conversely, someone looking for a relaxed social environment may shun joining a hardcore iron gym. No matter what type of gym a person decides to join, they should feel welcome, not intimidated.
Those of us who have been around gyms for extended periods of time know how to spot new members. Whether they don’t know how a machine works, or have a seemingly lost expression on their faces they often stick out. Just because they aren’t quite familiar with their new gym doesn’t mean they need to feel awkward or embarrassed. There are quite a few ways to blend in quickly.
Familiarizing yourself with proper gym etiquette is essential. Just like the dinner table, there is a certain etiquette that is expected in gyms. Sitting on machines between sets is the one that will upset the most people. If you take a lengthy break between sets and see someone waiting, ask them if they would like to work in with you. This is a very rare but valuable bit of etiquette that is much appreciated by regular gym goers.
Knowing what machines work which muscles is also essential. There is nothing quite like seeing someone using a chest press for seated rows. Usually when you join a gym, a trainer provides a tour. If you are not familiar with the equipment ask questions. It is the trainer’s job to answer them, no matter how silly they might seem.
Although it helps to know what you’re getting yourself into before joining a gym, you may still need help getting acclimated. Regular gym members should be willing to help and answer questions when asked. I say “when asked” because there is nothing more annoying then someone telling you how to do something when you haven’t asked for help. It is belittling and rude. But if you have a question and you see someone who seems to know their way around, ask them. After all, we are all there for the same reason so why not help each other out?
As humans we all have an inner need to be better than someone: a desire to think we know more about something than someone else. This primal instinct can get in the way of helping others simply because we want to be able to hold ourselves above them, no matter how insignificant the reason. A gym is a great place to practice getting rid of this silly alpha desire. It’s also a way to practice sharing your know-how with others. If you are an athlete people who are new will look up to you even if they don’t know you. They will see that you have accomplished what they are in the process of attaining and it and they will look up to you- as long as you don’t act like you are better than them.
A gym should be a place to practice humility. Unfortunately the opposite is too often the case. Those of us blessed with athletic abilities should strive to be better. We can be the guiding hand a new member is looking for if we could simply put aside our own ego to lend a hand.


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