Life & Living

Chantel Heath

INSTAGRAM: @chantelheathfitness


I’m a 41 year old mother of two & Personal Fitness coach. I work one to one, in person & online with clients aged 18-80. My specialisms include pre & postnatal training, cancer rehab, pilates, & GP exercise referrals. I run fitness classes online and in person in the Suffolk Coastal area. I am also a Mental Health First aider.

Gyms can be pretty intimidating places. Often the images we are presented with in the media are of loud, testosterone filled spaces inhabited by huge, muscular, picture perfect individuals. Not that appealing if you don’t feel like you fit into those categories.

But here’s the thing; 99% of the people you’ll actually see in the gym don’t fit into those categories either. As usual the media have painted us a pretty (but unrealistic picture). Like many things in life, the perception and reality just don’t match up. We think those people are all super fit, knowledgeable, seasoned gym goers, but let me tell you a little secret… they’re not.

Having been a gym goer since way back when, and a professional people watcher my whole life, I can tell you that a good proportion of the people you see in the gym are probably just as intimidated as you. They don’t always know what they’re doing, or how to do it, and may well be following something they have seen online, or something they have seen someone else do…

And you know what? Good on them for getting in there and getting it done.

The start of a New Year tends to spur people into action, so if you are wanting to get started but are suffering from Gymtimidation, these tips could help!

1. Ask for a tour of the gym before you start.

Part of people’s reluctance to go new places can just be the fear of the unknown.Have a look round, ask questions and then maybe book yourself an induction. During your induction session you will usually be shown where things are and how the equipment works which can really help to reduce anxiety.

2. Ask the staff.

Most gyms will have a member of staff on the gym floor at all times, so if you haven’t a clue where to start with what exercises to do, ask! The gym staff are there for a reason!

3. Go with a plan.

Decide before you get there what exercises you are going to do, and have a plan b just in case the equipment you were planning to use is already taken. If you’re already feeling anxious, wandering around looking lost will likely only add to that!

4. Book some personal training sessions.

A trainer will be able to help you identify the most appropriate exercises to suit your goals, abilities and fitness level. Most gyms will have personal trainers on site that you can book one to one sessions with. Alternatively if you feel confident enough to do the exercises alone, but are just unsure of exactly what you should be doing to achieve your goals, there are many online PTs who provide individual guidance and tailored exercise plans for you to follow.

5. Go with a mate.

Having someone else on board is a win-win, boosting both your motivation to go to the gym, and your confidence once you’re there!

6. If you feel nervous and a bit self conscious

For your first few sessions try to go when the gym is quieter. Ask staff when the busiest times are.

7. For me, music is essential.

Make a playlist of tunes that make you want to move!

8. Remember why you’re there.

Everyone in the gym will have different goals and different reasons for working out. Focus on your goals and what you want to achieve. Don’t worry about what the person next to you is doing, their goals may be very different to yours.