I want to start lifting weights and getting in better shape. But I have a high level of anxiety around working out in front of other people. I also have never lifted free weights before so I’m not even sure where to begin or what lifts to do. What would you all suggest for starting out?

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about 1 year

Its best to get into free weights with a trainer or a buddy. Especially someone who knows what they are doing. That way they can spot you, ensure posture is correct, and give you some encouragement. When I trained free weights I had a training buddy who was more experienced than me and gave me pointers.

Also times may have changed but when I did free weights they gave me an introduction.

about 1 year

I echo what other folks are saying: find a good coach/trainer. I’ve gone the CrossFit route for the last almost-decade and have found some great coaches and some really shitty ones. One thing the good ones have all had in common is background as more than just as a personal trainer or CrossFit level 1 coach. Most have extensive exercise physiology training and athletic backgrounds. Beyond that, finding someone you actually like will help you stick with it.
CrossFit is a cool options since it is specifically designed to be scaleable to any fitness level, and it has group classes, which are more fun than working out alone. I regularly workout with high performance athletes and retirees looking to improve their quality of life in the same class. The community aspect is a huge help in the right gym.

Ian Allan
about 1 year

Thank you everyone. I really appreciate the advice.

about 1 year

Hey Ian,
I suffer from anxiety (I also suffered from paralysis when I was 21), so when I started exercising/lifting - it was very hard for me. Here’s some things that helped me!

You get to determine your perimeters of success and accomplishment! No one else.

So change your perception of success! Cater it to you and your needs! For me, rather then focus on the increase of weights, difficulty or duration; I made my success ‘just getting there and doing something!’

Look at the long term! If you want this to be lifestyle change then listen to your body and your mental/emotional health. If it’s a bad day, your anxiety is high and you can’t focus; leave. It’s not worth injuring yourself. Mentally an injury will be harder to recover from then if you just say, “not today, but maybe tomorrow.”

Having a buddy or trainer helps! Make sure they are aware of your anxiety. With my buddy I had an agreement that I could find easier exercises or even walk away if my anxiety became too much. (With the promise I would come back later or the following day!) I never had to explain or justify myself. I just had to come back.

And finally...yes I agree a lot of people are going through similar situations in the gym. But everyone deals with their anxiety differently. Some will keep to themselves, others will talk or try to seek out buddies. And some will be absolutely cocks! And what you need to know is none of it has anything to do with you. You go there for you! It’s your “you” time! And you get to decide what that looks like day to day.

I have been lifting for 5 years now. The first year was an absolute battle and struggle on all levels. Now it’s just part of who I am and what I do! Good luck my friend!

about 1 year

I was the same and only been in a gym a handful of times, I went to the open day of Odin's gym when @Tarran opened it. I didn't have a clue what I was doing but had some pointers and help, loved it so much went for a day pass a few days later. Had a few pointers of Tarran again and trusted he knew his stuff, then he put up some spaces for ten PT sessions so I booked on and I never looked back, I think he made me strong enough to survive my near death fall. so my opinion would to get a decent PT maybe book a block of sessions as can be slightly cheaper.

about 1 year

It's more common than you would think to be feeling this way. Looking for beginners plans and videos on the internet is a good start. Do you know what your aims are? What sort of shape are you looking for? Also maybe hiring a personal trainer for a couple of sessions would be beneficial to purely focus on technique.
Start off with simple exercises and build up your confidence that way. The more simple exercises you get confident in, the less daunting learning new, more technically challenging exercises will be. Don't rush it.
From experience squats and deadlifts tend to be the ones that cause the most anxiety. There is a lot going on to think about. Start squats with bodyweight to get used to technique, build up to a kettlebell. And then progress from there. Deadlifts - practice with getting the movement right with a broom pole (for example) at home and get somebody to show you when wanting to move onto weights. If you have a gym instructor available to show you at your local gym, ask them to show you. That's what they're there for 🙂
Also, don't be afraid of using the mirrors to check how your posture is doing.
It's ok to be nervous about this. Remember, we all start somewhere

about 1 year

Echo the thoughts on here, look at some YouTube vids to familiarise yourself with some exercises ( the channel “buff dudes” has really user friendly beginner programmes and info in a light hearted way) then think about a PT of budget allows. I’d aim for a small independent gym, not only are you supporting local business I have always found these friendly and less intimidating.

Remember though - it’s okay to be nervous about it, just tell yourself, if you’re not afraid of what your about to do next .. you aren’t growing

about 1 year

Having a trainer I can trust helped me a lot. You have to pay attention to proper form when lifting free weights and having a qualified person teach and correct it in the beginning is crucial. That way you don't learn incorrect posture by accident. A trainer can also help with gradual progress and motivation to continue.

about 1 year

Watch some videos if you can! Find a program for beginners (they usually include helpful tricks and tips). We all had to start somewhere!