I’ve just read what is quite possibly one of the best articles ever about first time exercise. It hits the nail on the head for how many people feel: the fear, the trepidation, the bad memories, the lack of confidence, the poor coordination, low strength and a host of other factors that made exercise too hard. I encourage everyone – fit or unfit – to read it: “What It’s Really Like to Work Out for the First Time Ever as An Adult“, by Jenni Maier.
Too often, people go to a gym and are met with the average trainer and other gym-goers who look perfect, who have always loved sport, who have never been unfit or overweight. Of course, this may not be completely true but it’s usually how it appears.
Worse than how they look, though, is that some trainers have no empathy for those who are different to themselves. They honestly have no idea that others don’t (can’t?) view exercise in the same way as they do. The first thing they want to do is to show the new exerciser how hard they’ll have to work. They want to flog you. They want you to talk about how hard they made you work.
Imagine going to a gym for the first time, being frightened and unfit but rallying every ounce of bravery possible, and being told – not asked – to do 20 push-ups. Or sit-ups or lift those weights or run for 5 minutes to “warm up” when two minutes in you feel ill.
It’s no wonder first timers have a hard time becoming second-timers.
A good trainer, of course, has a different mindset. A good trainer understands the emotions a first-timer might be having. They know that the hardest part of starting an exercise program is actually turning up. Most importantly, they listen and gradually develop an exercise program that doesn’t aim to leave the first-timer exhausted for days. They work with you.
There are good trainers everywhere. There are not-so-good trainers, too. The key is to find a gym where you feel comfortable, with the guidance and support of trainers or staff that help you gradually introduce and build upon your exercise.
Quite seriously, if your body enables you to get to the gym, you can start. And in time your body will thank you for it.