Five Suggestions if You Feel Overwhelmed at Fitness Centers

An Army staff sergeant performs a deadlift at OneLife Fitness in Frederick, Maryland.
Army Staff Sgt. Rick Lash performs a deadlift at OneLife Fitness in Frederick, Maryland, Nov. 14, 2019. Lash works for the Army Medical Logistics Command at Fort Detrick. (C.J. Lovelace/U.S. Army photo)

Ever walk into a weight room and feel completely overwhelmed? Are you intimidated because you think everybody is in great shape and you are not? Many folks who are entertaining the idea of getting back into shape get turned off immediately by those feelings.

Many people also are threatened by the number of foreign weight machines, treadmills, stationary bikes, recumbent bikes, stair steppers, elliptical gliders and free weights. How do you work these things? What are all these buttons?

If you have asked yourself these questions, here are some tips to make your fitness journey a little easier: 

1. Go with a friend

Having a buddy with whom to exercise really helps motivate you to do more than you would do if you are alone. 

2. Hire a personal trainer

Personal trainers, like myself, are your workout buddies. They can help push you properly and keep you from injuring yourself. Most are flexible enough to exercise with you on your time schedule and will help you set a time for fitness.

Fitting fitness into your schedule is the hardest part of starting a plan. Most personal trainers range from $30 to $50 an hour. So find one that will exercise with you once a week and provide a plan of the week for you to do on your own -- if you are counting your pennies. 

3. Take a group class

Group classes are not just aerobics. Now there are bicycling classes called spinning; body-sculpting classes, which use free weights; and, believe it or not, people even pay for boot-camp-style classes. All will get you back to your lighter days. 

4. Options for those who do not want to go to a fitness center

All I need to work out is a set of monkey bars at a playground and a place to run and swim. Calisthenics -- yes, the military favorite of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, running and swimming -- can get you in the best shape of your life. You also can do these exercises inside your home as well, but you may have to go to a local YMCA or swim club in order to add swimming to your list of activities. Check out the training plan at the Fitness eBook Store for some downloadable plans that really work. 

5. Get up and walk

Out of all the ways there is to exercise, I still feel that getting up and walking is the best. Pick it up a bit and jog or bike if you want something more intense. Walk inside the local mall if you battle weather in your area during the winter.

This exercise is free and easy to do. Once again, go with a friend to keep it interesting and fun. And always remember to drink lots of water every day, especially if you add exercise to your world. 

Fitness can be fun and does not have to be intimidating, as long as you are willing to try and learn new things from fitness professionals, books, videos and fitness-related articles, such as this one at

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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