Gymtimidation: Trying New Things


One morning, when the gym was kind of empty, I made my way over to a machine I saw featured in SELF magazine. It was a machine that made pull-ups easier. But instead of 10, 20, 30 pound weights, it was based on body weight. I think the idea is to subtract the amount of weight you want to lift from your body weight, but I got nervous and confused. I felt like all the meat-heads in the weights section were looking at me wondering what I was doing there. So instead of taking a moment to understand the machine, I just pretended I knew what I was doing and hopped on. I was supposed to look like this, smoothly pulling myself up and down. (click the image to see the machine in motion)

I put my knees on the platform as instructed on the side of the machine and before I knew it I was sailing down ward through the air until the platform landed at the bottom of the machine.
I tried to pull myself back to the topwhile keeping my hands on the bars above my head (as instructed) but somehow I just ended up hanging like a monkey. If the meat-heads weren’t looking at me before, they definitely were now.

Eventually, I let go with my left hand, hung by one arm and dropped one leg off of the platform. When I finally managed to get my toes back on the ground, I flung my other leg off the platform and somehow made my way off the machine without injury.

I have a heavy rotation of cardio machines that I use at the gym. I feel comfortable on the treadmill, elliptical, bike, stairs and last week I spend a good 10 minutes on the rowing machine for the first time.

When it comes to weight machines, its a completely different story. A while back I wrote about Gymtimidation, there is so much about the gym that can be intimidating! Even though I’ve become more confident in my athleticism, I find that I’m still terrified of the unknown in the gym. I know I need to keep adding variety to my workouts. I know strength training will take my weight loss to the next level, but I’m stuck. Its hard for me to try new machines or new classes because I’m scared of being embarrassed.

Anyone else have Gymtimidation issues when it comes to trying new things?

  • KTG

    Cece, this exact same thing has happened to me so you’re not alone. Have you considered signing up for 1 or 2 sessions with a personal trainer. That way, you can specifically ask the trainer to show you some weight training exercises and machines. I’ve also found it helpful to dress the part of an athlete in order to feel like one. So, I wear real gym clothes, not just bummy free t-shirts that I own. So, my advice is: dress the part, get a “professional” at the gym to show you around a time or two, and then tell the meat heads to kick rocks!

  • Ayanna47

    I know exactly what you mean! I don’t want to pay for a personal trainer, so I end up asking the ones wandering around the gym floor for help on the machines I find intimidating. The great thing is you only need someone to walk you through them once (or twice) and you’re good to go!

  • Heather

    This is why I won’t go to a public gym and unfortunately there are no Curves gyms in NYC. I’d rather not have to deal with the looks, so I workout at home. I am looking into starting up MegaYoga though, which is only for plus size (mostly) women.

    I just feel that especially in a place like NYC or LA, the gyms are geared towards those who are already fit. It’s not true, I know, but they don’t exactly do much to make those who don’t have the perfect body feel as accepted. At least with a women only gym there’s less of a stigma because the women there aren’t using the gym as a pickup place.

  • Joey Javelona

    This is EXACTLY why I don’t like going to the gym at all. I admire you for trying something new though, kudos! :-)

  • ShoeJunkie

    I’m not really intimated because I need variety or else I will lose my motivation. Try these:
    - Read the instruction stickers on the machine (it sounds obvious but really, the directions are usually clear and very helpful)
    -Ask a personal trainer/Staff, they are always super excited when people ask them questions (at least at my gym)
    - Watch someone else use it and then find a video about it on YouTube. Tons of certified trainers have short videos that show the proper posture. I’ve found at least 10 different ways to lift weights and use the BOSU ball from YouTube alone.

    Hope these help! Don’t be afraid, you paid for your membership too!!!

  • priyanka chowdhury

    Hey CeCe,

  • Vanessa

    Lol I definitely know about Gymtimidation! When I started college, I had to take a Gym class. I chose relaxation mostly because I thought it seemed less scary. However, I ended up with a Bodybuilding class. I was just terrified lol, and when I arrived, I saw the class was more or less a Gym, with weight machines, elliptical, a race track, etc and the class population consisted of guys, muscled guys with very fit girls lol. I felt a bit out of place. However, the teacher was GREAT, and the class ended up being really nice. I lost weight, I improved my cardio greatly and got back in shape. And most of all, I was actually good at it !
    I got a LOT more confident after that semester, and I had to take a similar class the next one, where I met a fellow PSP who eventually told me she had PCOS and described her symptoms to me, which made me think I probably had the same :)
    Anyway, what I’m saying is that it usually turns out better than planned. What was really holding me back was not my weight, my abilities, but my lack of confidence, and when I got into it, I couldn’t do anything else than get confident :)

  • Quizaira

    It’s A LOT more common than you think. I passed out during my first training session because I was too proud to slow my pace–there’s almost an expectation for you to fail or look stupid when you’re overweight. I’ve learned to slow the pace and work on my form–because even the meat heads mess up on form because they’re trying to hard to look cool and lift too much weight.

  • Valentine

    I’m sorry you had such a sucky experience (but at least you went big, right?). I think it’s really awesome that you want to conquer this, because you totally can! The above poster is right on, nothing changed my exercise experience like solid weight/calisthenics programs from a trainer. When I first started venturing into the scary depths of the weight room by myself, I ended up using a machine incorrectly and really hurt my back.

    I realized it was a safety issue if I was going to workout with weights. I’m on a public school teacher’s salary, but I was able to get a very affordable deal with a personal trainer at my gym (very affordable!…she creates a program and takes me through it for $40 a pop). Personal trainers are really well-educated in body mechanics and working with people of all sizes. All of the trainers I’ve met work with a variety clients and really personalize their advice to the individual. I’ve been seeing my PT once every four to six weeks for three years now. I’ve maintained a significant weight-loss and I’ve gained so much body confidence from this one change.

    Trainers introduce you to new exercises and keep the weights from becoming stale. I credit my trainer with giving me a whole new gym-confidence. I’m now doing lunges, planks, dead lifts, bench presses, push ups, step-ups, squats, lunges, even battle ropes! Sometimes it’s really hard to get there and push hard, but the long-lasting effects of a kick-ass workout make it worth it.

  • Ellen Aasgaard

    Hey there! I googled something with a guy and a business card and ended up on your blog (thanks for that entry by the way, I believe it made me make up my mind about a particular guy), and I just realised I’ve been reading your blog for two straight hours, when I should’ve been sleeping (european timezone!). Anyways, just wanted to say great blog, you write well, it is entertaining and fun to read! :)

  • Mary

    A few years ago, when I first began going to the gym, I had a similar feeling of Gymtimidation. Then, I went with my brother and we just did our work out and focus on us. I think one just needs to take the first step and try new things especially when it comes to fitness. My new year challenge is to run a half-marathon, check out my running blog on my progress as a big girl running,


  • Blazergirl93

    You helped me get over gymtimidation, you provided so much help
    Andprovided a blog torelax and figure out how you want to change your life and I can’t thank you enough cece!!
    ~best wishes

  • Napturalista526

    I admire you for even getting on the machine. I see that machine everyday I go into the gym I want to try it but I do not have the upper body strength to even get on the machine lol. I too will sink to the bottom and be looking all kinda silly lol. I think you are awesome…Dont let that stuff intimidate you though :)