04/08/2013 07:59 am ET | Updated Jun 08, 2013

5 Ways To Fight Your Fear Of The Gym

Being a bit uncertain or fearful about stepping into a gym is not something that is specific to age. But it certainly doesn't help to be surrounded by younger, fitter and more experienced individuals lifting three times their weight and letting out guttural grunts while doing it.

Feeling inept or embarrassed in front of other people isn't something that any of us enjoy and it's usually the fear of this that keeps us from trying new things. Unfortunately for baby boomers, one of those things is often going to the gym.

While launching Welcyon, we realized that before we could ask someone to work out in our gyms, we needed to change their preconceived notions of going to the gym. It's important to realize that your idea of going to the gym is exactly that, just an idea. This state-of-mind is limiting you from becoming healthier, possibly lowering your blood pressure, increasing strength and activity, etc.

Our franchise owners and fitness coaches work every day with baby boomers who've never before belonged to a gym, or are just getting back after years away. So, from first-hand experience, let me suggest a few ways to ease back to the club:

  1. Try before you buy. There will likely be a standard tour of the gym when you first express interest in a membership. Go beyond that. Ask for a free week and even if you don't work out during that week, become familiar with the space, other members, staff, etc. Make sure it's a place that you feel comfortable and an atmosphere that will be receptive to you and your fitness needs. If you have questions, don't be afraid to ask. The staff is there to help and it's their job to make sure you have the best possible experience.
  1. There's power in numbers. Consider taking this road with someone else. Whether it's your spouse, neighbor or friend, having a gym buddy to lean on can make it easier to take the first step into the gym. Workout partners can also challenge you and keep you accountable to your fitness goals, while you do the same for them.
  1. Less crowd, more comfort. Try going to the gym at non-peak hours if possible. Gyms are typically slower during the middle of the day and tend to be busiest early in the morning and after 5 p.m. Having fewer people there means you can be less self-conscious and have free reign to try out equipment with the help of a trainer.
  1. Music to your ears. Don't underestimate the power of a good song as a confidence booster. According to multiple studies, music combined with exercise creates an increased sense of motivation by distracting the brain and increasing respiration. I only recommend this for those that are comfortable with their workout routine and need a distraction from the environment but have the focus to exercise safely. Of course, having clubs set their TVs to your favorite news, sports or entertainment programs helps too.
  1. Familiarity quells fear. Gym equipment may look complicated and intimidating, but many of these machines are built with simplicity and safety in mind. Some health clubs, like ours, even offer alternatives to the traditional weight-stacked machines and barbells, providing variety and "comfortable" ways for you to get fit. If it's been years since you've been inside a gym, request a personal training session, so you can learn how to best use the gym equipment to get your desired results.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Exercise Over 50