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The first quarter of 2017 is ending and you still haven’t started working toward your New Year’s resolution to get in shape. You want to put your dreams in motion but your gym anxiety is overwhelming.

Trust me, I understand.

Before I found my groove at the gym, I avoided the iron room with every fibre of my being. Indeed, I worked out at home while hoping my body would somehow develop with a few push-ups and lots of hope.

Yet, I always yearned to make serious gains. I was just afraid of not matching up to other guys on the gym floor and imagined I would be laughed out the front door. Now that I am more secure with who I am and what I want, my perspective has shifted.

If you want to train at a facility and overcome your gym anxiety, try these 10 tips that worked for me.

1. Do a dry run. 

Moving pass anxiety involves facing our fear of the unknown. Therefore, prior to officially joining the gym, do a trial run so you can get a tangible understanding of the people, the place and the experience.

Pay for the day and do a light session during the time period in which you plan to train. Once you’re on the floor, take mental notes of the available equipment and how busy the gym is at that time.

Also, observe the personalities of the trainers. Your goal is to figure out if they are approachable and open to assisting people instead of only flirting with every tight body that passes by.

2. Have a plan. 

Once you have a sense of the culture of the gym and decided it matches your needs, plan your workouts. Crafting routines that target the spots you want to develop will help you make the most of your time.

Ask more experienced people for help, hire a personal trainer or use online resources as your guide. For instance, I use the Bodybuilding website as my go-to for all things involving weightlifting, strength training and healthy eating. Additionally, apps like Full Fitness provide a library of demo videos and other useful tools.

Write your routines on paper or save them to your preferred device. Also, have an alternative for each move in case the equipment you need is taken. The key is to have a strategy ready before you enter them gym, thus helping you to stay focused and confident about your workouts.

3. Train outside of peak hours.

Many people hit the gym on mornings before work, in the early evening, on Saturdays or on holidays. Therefore, you can get the best use of the equipment if you train outside of those times.

If your schedule is flexible and you live in a country like Trinidad and Tobago where typical office hours are set from 8am to 4pm, do your workouts between 8:30am and 2pm on weekdays. For places where 9am to 5pm work is the norm, aim for 9:30am to 3:00pm.

On weekends, Sunday mornings are your best bet because people will either be tired from partying the night before or preparing for the coming week. Moreover, if you’ve found an affordable 24-hour facility, you can avoid much of the hassle by training after 9pm when most people are done for the day.

4. Don’t worry about being judged. 

Unless they plan to waste their time by staring for an hour, nobody in the gym will be focused on you. It is easy to imagine people judging your every move but they won’t as long as you’re not doing something horribly wrong or trying to get their attention.

Mike Wazowski falls off a treadmill in 'Monsters University'
Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios: ‘Monsters University’

This is also a good time to note the importance of focusing on your exercises. Whether you’re lifting weights or running on the treadmill, accidents can happen if you get distracted by Ms. Thing walking by in the yellow tights.

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