Going to the gym for the first time or for the first time in a long time can be quite intimidating. If your feeling unfit, out of shape and lacking confidence then taking the few steps through those doors can be really hard. You don’t know what to expect, what to do, and your scared it will be full of young, fit, beautiful gym bunnies and huge muscly intimidating men. I would love to tell you that it won’t be as bad as you think. For you, hopefully it won’t be. For me it was just as bad as I could have imagined, if not worse.
Back in January I decided to join Pure Gym and my sister Tamsin decided to join with me. Tamsin had been a member of gyms in the past but I had never stepped foot inside a gym before this. For this reason I convinced Tamsin to sign up for an induction session with me. We booked a general induction session for 11am on a Sunday morning and I was really looking forward to it.
And then I went out Saturday night…
And I woke up Sunday with an absolute stinking hangover. Migraine, feeling sick, the whole works. I couldn’t believe I had been so stupid as to have a heavy drinking session the night before my first gym session, but then that’s me all over.
I crawled out of bed, dug some old, barely worn gym kit out of the draw and got ready, searching for water and smelling like a brewery.
We walked on down to the gym and faced the first challenge of the day, getting in through the coded door. I couldn’t remember my pin so had to search on my phone for roughly an hour trying to find an email or text with an 8 digit code that would get me through the pod (yes that’s right you have to step into a claustrophobic pod that looks like something out of Star Trek just to get into the gym!). Once through the doors we eagerly waited for our induction session to start.
So we waited…
There was no reception to head to and no staff members in sight. We had a little wander around and noticed that the lockers required padlocks that neither of us had bought. My head was banging, my throat was dry and my mouth felt like I had swallowed a sock. I just wanted to get this induction done and crawl back into bed.
We headed upstairs and found another poor soul also wandering around. He clearly recognised a fellow gym newbie as he headed over to us and asked if we were also searching for an induction session that should have started 10 minutes ago. The three of us teamed up and headed back downstairs where we found an office. The new recruit to our gang of newbies proceeded to bang on the door which eventually conjured up a happy looking gym instructor in a bright blue T shirt. We will call him Gareth though I’m not entirely sure that was his name!
The instructor apologised and explained there was some sort of mix up and someone else was meant to be taking the induction but since we were here and demanding to be inducted he would see fit to dedicate some of his precious time to us.
He asked us if we wanted to put our stuff in lockers and we explained we didn’t have a padlock. He then took our stuff including our phones into the office. It was at this point I took off my hoody and handed it to him, only to realise, my lovely old but in like new condition gym top was inside out!!
OMG why is this happening to me! I am standing in the middle of the gym feeling like death, wearing clothes that are inside out. I wanted to grab my stuff and run home but unfortunately the fun was only just beginning.
I quickly explained to my sister about my top and other than the huge washing instruction label hanging out on the side, you couldn’t really tell the top was inside out. Well that’s what she said any way and I chose to believe her.
We were shown around the whole gym and Gareth explained to us what the machines were and how to use them. Well at least I think he did, I was too busy thinking about how I was going to sort my top situation out than to actually listen to him.
Then Gareth walked us over to the cross trainer machine. He explained what it was and then asked us to hop on. We started off slowly and then he asked us to go at it as hard and fast as we could to get our heart rate up. I’ve never been on a cross trainer machine before and after this it is a machine I always avoid.
I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it. I hated the motion of it and felt like my legs were spinning out of control. Also my legs were really, really hurting after about 10 seconds in. Tamsin and the other guy were doing really well but I just couldn’t cope. I said I couldn’t do it, it was too hard but Gareth wanted us to keep going for an hour (well probably 2 minutes but it felt like an hour). So I did something I never thought I would do. I got off the cross trainer, grabbed my water and sat down on the nearest machine. Gareth looked at me and I just said it was too hard, I couldn’t do it, I didn’t like that machine and my legs were shaky. Gareth didn’t really seem to give a shit if I’m honest and turned back to the 2 much fitter people and continued to torture them.
After this he decided the induction was over and we were left to our own devices. The first thing I wanted to do was turn my bloody top the right way around so we asked to use the toilets. He pointed us in the direction and then we realised we needed our 8 digit code…which was in my phone…which was in his office.
Gareth let us into the disabled toilet which I dived in and turned my top the right way around.
We looked at a few other machines on our own, Tamsin showed me how to use a few of the weights machines but my heart really wasn’t in it after all the disasters and my hangover had peaked at its worse point. I was sweaty, dry mouthed and wanted to cry so we headed home.
So that was it, my first gym experience.
Yes it was horrific and if you were already nervous about heading to the gym then my story has probably not helped you in the slightest. But the point of me sharing this with you is that despite that day probably being one of the most embarrassing one of my life I got through it and I went back to the gym that week, and again and again.
I did not let it put me off. Yes I struggled to walk in with my head held high the next time and every time I saw that instructor afterwards I thought about what he must of thought of me when I jumped off the cross trainer, but after a while I forgot all about it. Everyone has to start somewhere. He should never have pushed me so hard on a machine I had no idea how to use. He should have been more supportive and more helpful. It was the worst induction session I have ever been to (also the only one but you know what I mean). After working with other personal trainers I realise that it was him in the wrong not me and I have nothing to feel embarrassed about.
So good luck to you at your first gym session. I really hope it is better than mine but if it isn’t, don’t worry, and just don’t let it put you off going back.
Have you ever had a bad experience at the gym? Do you find staff members helpful or just a hindrance? Would love to hear from you in the comments.