I remember the first time I joined a gym. I walked through the entrance with a mix of trepidation and excitement. I entered an empty locker room and went into what would be my corner for the next couple of years. I got changed, filled up my water bottle and froze like a deer caught in the headlights. The first guy I saw lifting weights was covered in tattoos, bench pressing more than 100kg and had a skin fade haircut. I didn’t speak to him but it was clear he had a military background. I thought to myself – what have I got myself into? I didn’t let any intimidation take over and I stuck by it – thankfully.
I trained almost every day during the summer of 2009. I would arrive at midday and be home by 2.30 pm. I spent most of my evenings studying the science behind bodybuilding but I always stayed natural. I watched the likes of Kai Greene & Jay Cutler for 100s of hours every month when my head should’ve been in the books studying for my computing exams at university. I admired their passion and craft more than their crazy genetics. I learned everything I could and trained harder the following day with any new knowledge. I really miss them days, to be honest. I never competed on stage but I lived a disciplined lifestyle before it faded away as I hit rock bottom in my mid-20s.
It’s easy to feel insecure when you join a gym for the first time. It’s out of your comfort zone and you immediately start comparing your body to everyone else but forget we all have different reasons for being inside the same building. I know without proving facts that people spend too much time judging their results by the reflection in a mirror rather than the mental benefits of training regularly.
You might not have broken any personal records today but you did reduce stress, improve your self-esteem, increased your energy (after having a post-workout meal/drink obviously!) and released plenty of endorphins throughout your body. Your clothes might fit better on your body and make you swagger with confidence but it’s your mindset that controls everything.
The most difficult challenge is to stay disciplined with consistency. There will be days when you might not run as far or lift as heavy because you had bad sleep or worries on your mind – its ok not to strive for perfection every day. I suffered from anxiety and there were days when I didn’t train because I wasn’t happy in my skin. Mental health awareness is finally a topic people are talking about after generations of being silent so why not remind yourself now that it’s ok to have flaws and not to feel guilty about skipping a gym session if you need to. If you’re not in the right frame of mind then turn a negative into a positive by accepting you will heal and train harder than ever when you next turn up.
The gym changed my life and I hope you see the same benefits down the line. If it turns into a change of lifestyle then embrace it. It speaks a lot about your character. You’re determined and want a positive attitude to whatever life throws in your direction. All these qualities are good traits and people will want to feed off your contagious energy. You naturally grow into a leader rather than being the same sheep who follows someone else.
Good luck on your journey. It takes courage to open down new doors but the gym might be one of the most important you ever walkthrough.