Coreen – Frozen with fear

I’ve mentioned several times in previous posts that I’ve had a gym membership for quite a while now and I’ve yet to go. And generally when I do this I joke about it but today I decided to take a hard look at what’s going on and it’s not pretty. To sum it up, I’m afraid. I have a paralysing fear of being in new situations where I’m not in control, situations where I’m not an expert. I’m afraid to go to the gym. I can stand in front of a group of several hundred and deliver a presentation for work, but I can’t walk in to a gym, or more specifically a gym locker room without feeling woozy and knowing I’m going to make a butt of myself.

Let me give you an idea of the crazy:

I’m not sure what one wears to the gym these days. And it’s not so much about being fashionable, I don’t actually know if I have anything I could wear as I don’t currently own yoga pants or warm-up pants or athletic pants of any kind that would fit me. And I’m fairly sure my gym shorts from high school would not be acceptable (do you remember what gym shorts in the mid-eighties looked like? EESH)

I stress about my shoes. Does one wear shoes to the gym? (Turns out the answer is yes, which is good, because sweaty bare feet all over the place is sort of ew) What sort of shoes would one wear? I have running shoes, but I have a weird running pattern so they hurt my feet if I use them to walk. I have the walking shoes I use to walk the dog, but dude, I wear those every day through rain and sleet and snow. Do you have any idea what they smell like? Although, knocking everyone else out might make me feel more comfortable as I shamble around wreaking havoc.

What about a bra? The girls have changed from the last time I was physically active. I’ve tried to get my old sports bras on and it’s not pretty; I was fairly sure they were going to need the jaws of life to get me out of one of them. And my regular bras are not up to the challenge. I mean, they’re barely hanging on by a thread at the best of times and underwire just does not go with any sort of bouncing. And no, braless is NOT an option.

Then there’s the sweating. The sweating, thank you pregnancy. I mean on the glow-to-perspire-to-sweat scale I was probably leaning towards perspire anyways before getting pregnant and I’m not sure what magical powers gestating gets to hold over your body for the rest of your life, but really, can we trade side effects? The sweating is ridiculous. Boobs, pits, back, neck, feet, head, some sort of weird cheek thing, and yes I’ll admit it crotch sweat too. How much can one sweat before you just dry up and float away? (hah, like there’s a chance of that!)

What about the equipment? How will I use the equipment? You know I’ll be the one with her hair caught in the elliptical machine. Hear those free weights clanging? Sorry ’bout that. And yes, I’ll fall off the step too (do they still do step aerobics these days?).

Tell me I’m not alone. I mean, I ‘know’ no one gives a hoot what I wear, or if I missed shaving my left knee (seriously how does that happen?), I’ve just got to figure out a way to ignore those nagging fears, strap on some spandex and take my inspiration from Mooshinindy and get to the gym. (Because if that’s not motivation I don’t know what is! *g*)

Were you paralysed by fear? How did you get yourself through the doors? Did you buy a whole new wardrobe before you set foot in the locker room? And will those voices ever SHUT UP?

Coreen is a geriatric mother living with her husband (hubby) and 3.5 year old daughter (V). She works in IT Security but doesn’t yet know what she wants to be when she grows up. She also blogs at One Day this Blog will have a Snazzy Name (and is open to naming suggestions because really.)

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17 Responses to Coreen – Frozen with fear

  1. gymnauseous says:

    You’re totally not alone, Coreen. Gyms are fairly intimidating, especially if you lack the confidence in yourself to a) feel a little foolish; and b) not give a crap what you look like. It took me about, um, three years to be able to go to the gym and not think about what I looked like.
    At my gym, you’ll often see people wearing the most random collection of clothes/shoes. There’s a guy who’s in there every saturday and sunday who works out in his crocs. On the treadmill, on the elliptical, in the weight room. I marvel at his unsweaty feet.
    Because I, Coreen, I am a sweater. I feel you on this. Sweat in the gym is a sign of how you’re working. It’s actually something to be proud of. Just bring a hand towel with you and towel off the fruits of your labour with pride.
    Sports bras… everyone laughs at me when I say this, but I try on the sports bras in a store, then order them on eBay for cheap. I buy my workout clothes at walmart and Marks. The only thing I spend money on is shoes, and frankly, if you’re not going to run, buy a pair of cheap sneaks from walmart for the first six months.
    Get in there! Be proud! You can totally do this!

    (PS – all gyms have orientation sessions that are free. they show you the machines, how to use them, and the weights, too!)

  2. What gym to do you belong to? If its a goodlife…you can go to any goodlife…I suggest going to one of their women only gyms first. I find that they are much more ‘comfortable’ :) The women there are really friendly, the whole place is…people smile at you and you feel welcome. Not to say that the coed ones aren’t but its a different ‘feel’. If you belong to the Athletic club they have a women’s only area and it may be similar in vibe.
    What to wear….go shopping :) Great excuse too…and new clothes make you feel good! When I joined the gym a year and a ‘bit’ ago I had like 2 outfits and I worked out 5 days a week and I washed them each day LOL. Then I bought more as it suited my pocket book. Finding workout gear at the size I was harder…I got some great stuff at Addition Elle and Reitmans. I got yoga capris style pants, and some comfy t-shirts. Shoes…I bought new ones. But I think you can wear your smelly ugly walking shoes…because I wear my running shoes every day to the gym and they are DIRTY and SMELLY…and no one cares…unless I take them off in yoga and leave them next to my matt won’t do that again! LOL
    HOOTER HOLDERS!!!!! I have big old bouncy knock me out boobs! When I started I went to old navy and got the XL sports bra (took the padding out, why the hell would I want MORE BOOB). It was TIGHT a bit of a workout to get it on, and I wear two of them. DOES THE JOB! Not a fancy LULULEMON TATA TAMER but it works.
    GROUP EXERCISE….believe it or not but a class is a great idea for a newbie…the instructors are so personable and fun…and they always ask if anyone is new…be brave put your hand up and you will be surprised by your welcome :) Again in the women’s club the girls in the class are really friendly. I made a point to say hi to at least one woman each time when I started and ask them about the class…it was amazing how helpful and kind they always were. Put me at ease instantly.
    Whatever you wear or do….just go :) :) :) You will surprise yourself! Good luck :)

    • neeroc says:

      It is a goodlife, and thanks for the advice. I was wondering if it wouldn’t be more ‘judgy’ going to a women’s only one. Good to hear they’re so welcoming. And I like the way you think about the clothes *g*

  3. Shona says:

    You are not alone.

    I totally understand! I was super nervous and anxious in the beginning, too. Do you have a friend who you can go with the first couple times? That helps A LOT! I still love going with my gym buddies, but have realized that I’m fine there even when they are not (and even know quite a lot of other people there now!) The more you go, the more comfortable you get.

    Also, everyone sweats. The more you work out, the more you sweat. I get crazy ugly boob sweats and am dripping (literally) by the time I leave (my hair is wet), and I leave a butt print of sweat on the mats when I do my stretching (don’t worry I wipe it down after). If you are doing a good job there, you are sweaty, so that’s a good thing. :)

    I would go out and buy a decent sports bra (I love my Enell) and some comfy yoga pants (Old Navy has cheap yoga pants and work out pants). Wear your runners and a regular tshirt. Basically, wear what makes you the most comfortable and at ease.

    Also, most people are into their own thing, and aren’t concerned about you or how you look… although I was totally self-conscious when I started, too. (Damn emotions are not exactly rational)

    You can also likely arrange for an orientation to be shown the different machines, and told about the different classes. I love Zumba class – everyone is shaking their tushies like crazy people and being ridiculous (I don’t recommend starting up in front of the mirror though – that was a sight I didn’t need to see). ;)

    You can totally conquer this fear! (Sorry this comment is so long)

    • neeroc says:

      You aren’t the first person to recommend Zumba, I think I’ll have to check them out. Thanks for the shopping pointers too, I wouldn’t have a clue where to start.

  4. Amy B says:

    Yes to the sweating – I’m so glad it’s not just me – yes to the missed hairs, yes to the ‘everyone is going to know I don’t belong here’ but then you see that woman who is bigger than you, and slower than you and sweating her heart out on the treadmill and you don’t think anything but ‘wow.’

    On another note, you still have your gym shorts from high school?

    • neeroc says:

      Thanks Amy. Ya, I have a few items of clothes from baby, toddler, elem. school and HS. I spent a lot of time in those shorts (track, football, weightlifting, dance) so they went in the keeper pile…not that I’d want to wear them!

  5. Sasha says:

    Oh god, the sweating, the fear… the sweating from fear… the fear of sweating… I HEAR YOU! If it makes you feel better, go shopping first. You probably won’t worry about it as much as you think, once you get there, but if it helps you get there, then go for it.

    What about bringing a friend? Or making an appointment with a trainer right off the bat? Not just for the moral support once you’re there, but the added accountability to just get you in the door. Because that, I’ll bet, is the hardest part. I’m really freaked about going to work tomorrow – I’ll swear the only thing that’s going to get me through the door is that I don’t have the choice. Maybe just try removing the choice…

    • neeroc says:

      In my usual completely random fashion I’ve signed up for bootycamp fitness with a friend. So exercise yes, friend yes, gym no. *g* And I love the shopping idea. How was your return to work?

  6. Krista - The Tech Mom says:

    I lost 40lbs about 11 years ago through watching what I ate and going to the gym. I was 40lbs overweight and a generally shy person, so going to the gym took a lot courage on my part. I would get nervous and basically get sweaty palms at the thought of going. I basically had all the same fears as you did… but I did it.

    I joined a goodlife gym and did the whole orientation thing. That helped a lot. I went to the gym on a regular basis and eventually became a real gym rat. I was hooked. I found my stride and was working out with the beefy looking gym guys in the weight room and I didn’t care. The biggest thing I noticed was that after three years of being a gym regular I never once took notice of what the other gym goers were wearing, what was on their feet or just how much they were sweating. Although there was this one time when a guy elected to run next to me on the treadmills that had just dunked himself in a vat of cologne. That being said, I was so busy concentrating on my own workout that I didn’t notice or concern myself of what others were doing and I bet that this is the attitude that most people hold. As for the ones that do… well they can just suck it. :D

    Face your fears Coreen, you can do it!

  7. sherrilynne7 says:

    Funny post. I remember having these fears too. Luckily when your in your 40s, no one ever look at you ever…so I’m in the clear now.

  8. Nadira. says:

    I buy most of my work out clothes at Winners: Reebok, Nike, etc. at a fraction of the cost of the regular stores. I have been going to a gym for 30+ years and I can guarrantee you that no one is going to be paying attention to you. Especially nowadays when everyone has an Ipod in their ears. Speaking of Ipods, I can recommend Podrunner for workout music that can keep you moving (each podcast has a specific beats per minute).

  9. Pingback: Coreen – Well that was random. | Losing It In Ottawa

  10. Pingback: Coreen – BootyCamp final report (for now) | Losing It In Ottawa

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