04/30/2013 06:46 pm ET Updated Jun 30, 2013

Be Fearless: Hit the Gym With Confidence

For many people, going to the gym is a way of life, a necessity to feel good. They join a gym so they can stick with a routine. For others, though, they buy a membership, yet hardly ever go. Fear underlies this lack of follow-through. For these people, they don't like the way they look or feel, so they get a gym membership with the best of intentions, but then can't go because they fear all eyes will be on them. They feel judged. They feel they're being talked about or even laughed at by others. As with most fears, these are unfounded. There's also an element of social comparison as they look at others and wonder, "Why don't I look like that?" This thinking unfortunately does not usually motivate the person, but makes them feel defeated.

There's a reason why most gyms have mirrors: People like to look at themselves. Apart from the occasional glance at a tight set of buns or bulging biceps, most people are more concerned about how they look than how others look. The gym isn't a beauty contest, and looking like Hugh Jackman probably isn't a requirement for membership.

Here are some tips for eliminating the fear that is preventing you from going to the gym:

  • Find a gym that attracts members who are like you with a similar level of fitness. That might mean shying away from the hardcore iron-pumping gyms.
  • By taking a tour of various gyms and making an appointment with an in-house fitness trainer, you'll become familiar with the services, people, and equipment.
  • Once you settle on a gym, develop with a trainer a fitness program tailored to your specific needs and learn the proper use of equipment. Both will provide you with more comfort and confidence.
  • Take entry-level yoga, Pilates, or other fitness classes so that you can meet like-minded people. Bringing a friend for support and encouragement may help too as you ease into your fitness routine.
  • Focus on your reasons for being there: to work out and get into shape -- not to be stared at or compare yourself to others.
  • Keep these goals in mind as you move forward without being distracted by the occasional beauty queen or muscle man.

For more advice on how to lead a fearless life check out my book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days.

For more by Jonathan Alpert, click here.

For more on fitness and exercise, click here.