How to not look like a gym novice even though you are undeniably a gym novice

Yesterday I went to a gym.

It’s the second time I’ve been to a gym in my life and it was just about as, if not a bit more, traumatic than the first time. The first time I went to a gym was over 10 years ago. (I say gym, it was the back room of my local sports centre with some yoga balls in it.) Back then I was living on a diet of microwavable burgers. It didn’t go well. There was lots of sweating. I didn’t know what I was doing, I felt like I was being judged by everyone around me and I experienced an almost crippling sense of embarrassment throughout.

A lot has changed since then. I don’t even own a microwave anymore.

I was determined to not let the terrible experience from my younger years define me. More importantly, I was determined to not look like a gym novice, of which I am one.

I am the king of gym novices.

As ever with this blog, learn from my mistakes. May my downfalls be your guide.

Here’s a few ways to not look like a gym novice:

Don’t try to over-compensate and use humour at the reception desk to mask your nervousness

I often try to use humour when I’m nervous. You’ll notice I said ‘try to use’ there.

Here’s just one of the things I said to the bloke at the reception desk.

Gym man: So is this your first time at the gym?

Me: No I come here all the time. I’m obsessed. *points to belly*

Gym man: *confused*

Try to blend in by stretching

When you’re a gym novice one of the biggest concerns is that you will be rumbled. That someone will figure out that you don’t know where you are, what you are doing or how to use anything.

I used stretching to completely get rid of that problem.

At one point I was wandering around aimlessly trying to figure which machine wouldn’t kill me. I felt lost and alone. You couldn’t tell though because I was stretching. Just a little stretch while you walk and you’ll blend right in.

Wear your muddy trainers that you normally wear to walk the dog

When you arrive you’ll notice that everyone’s footwear is pristine. Box fresh.

Sure you could do the same, but where’s the fun in that? Instead try this:

Do as I did and wear your battered muddy trainers which you’ll then realise look horrible and try to clean in the toilets. Give that about 5-10 minutes and once you’ve worked out that you can’t get them clean, you can give up and head back out to the gym. By this point you’ll have loosened the mud that was originally stuck to the trainers and the mud will start crumbling off with every step that you take. This is good because you can keep a track of every machine you’ve used by following the crumbly trail of mud.

Think of it like Hansel & Gretel but instead of following crumbs of bread that lead to a gingerbread house, it’s following clumps of mud that lead to a sweaty man pretending to stretch.

Don’t attempt to join a women’s spinning class

I felt a bit flustered when I approached my first exercise bike. I’d been there 25 minutes and all I’d done was confuse a receptionist, stretched and cleaned my trainers.

Turns out the bike that I’d chosen was actually being used as part of a women’s spinning class. I was kindly given the ‘what are you doing’ look by the instructor. I replied with the ‘sorry I don’t know what I’m doing’ look.

I liked this look so much I decided to keep it on my face for the remainder of my time at the gym.

Use being out of shape to your advantage

What’s the one good thing about not being fit? Getting a red face by doing very little.

I left the gym by showing my receptionist friend my red face. He looked at me as if to say ‘Wow what a red face, what a great workout.’

I burned 43 calories. My face said differently. Good old red face.

Long live the king of gym novices.