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Five ways to conquer your fitness fears

Friday 24 April, 2015 by Kat

When you haven't exercised for a while, the idea of hitting the gym can be a bit scary. With its mirrors, complicated equipment and abundance of lycra, it's easy to get intimidated by more experienced fitness fanatics.

But don't let your fitness fears stop you from exercising. Here's five of the most common fears and how to beat them.

1. I don't know how to use the gear

You walk into the gym and immediately see row upon row of metal machines with names like crunch bench, hip abductor and pectoral fly. It's no wonder you might want to run out as soon as you walk in, but don't let it freak you out.

The best way to become familiar with gym equipment is to get a tour from the staff. Many gyms also offer a free personal training session when you sign up, or you can attend a class where the equipment is demonstrated. If you don't know what gym equipment does, ask an expert.

2. I might do the wrong thing

Staying fit isn't about being perfect. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. A good gym instructor, coach or personal trainer will help you, whatever level you're at. If you fall over during yoga, be willing to laugh and pick yourself up again. It's only by practicing that you get better at working out.

3. I'll get hurt

Nobody wants to get hurt, but there are many ways to reduce your risk of exercise-induced injuries.

  • Make sure you stretch and warm up correctly for the type of activity you're doing. Most gym classes will include a warm up and warm down period in the class. 
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially if it's hot or you're sweating a lot. 
  • If you have a pre-existing injury, consult your GP to find out what sort of exercise could work with your ailment.

4. What will people think of me?

If you've been out of shape for a little while and carrying a bit of extra weight, you might feel self-conscious exercising. It's hard, especially when gym clothing is often designed to be tight and studio mirrors can cause you to look at every body part in a critical way. Realise you're not alone – most other people at the gym feel the same way as you!

There are a few ways to deal with this:

  • Buy exercise clothing that fits you well and that you feel comfortable in. 
  • Exercise with a friend. It's more fun and can boost your confidence if you have someone there to support you. 
  • Attend a gender-specific gym if you feel self-conscious in front of the opposite sex.

5. It's too hard

You might have watched one too many TV fitness shows where contestants are pushed to their breaking limit. If you're terrified of the exercise being too hard, start slow. Try gentle exercises such as aqua-aerobics, yoga and walking, and build up to higher-intensity workouts. Take classes which have an added element of fun, such as dancing. Make exercise something you enjoy!

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