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Overcoming my fear of the gym: Suburban Resistance

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Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get in shape? Me, too! My gym membership card is right here on my keychain.

Are you still sitting at home because you’re petrified of falling off the elliptical or otherwise making a fool of yourself at the gym?

Pass the remote, my friend. As the saying goes, “Good things come to those who sweat, but lying on the sofa and binge-watching ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’ reruns is pretty good, too.”

OK, no one says that (except me).

Yes, I do need to exercise more — but I also need a little encouragement. So, I recently contacted my friend Mickayla Eberly from York for a pep talk.

Mickayla is fit and fabulous. Once in a while, Mickayla posts Facebook videos of herself doing fit and fabulous things, like jumping three feet into the air from a near standstill. (I cannot jump three inches in the air without wetting myself. (Thanks, three pregnancies and three wonderful children!)

Let’s see whether Mickayla can convince me to get off my keister and get to the gym.

Josette: First things first, Mickayla. When did you start going to the gym and what does your exercise routine look like?

Mickayla: I started going to a gym when I was about 12 years old as a way to aid with my figure skating. Because of my age, I started working directly with a personal trainer so I could learn exercises with correct form — and so I wouldn’t be some kid running around a gym without a clue what to do. That kid grew up and I am now a group fitness instructor at Ohana Fitness in York.

When I go to the gym, I try to switch things up, try new things. But each week, I always do some sort of the following: cardio, whether it be on an elliptical or in a HITT class (high-intensity interval training); weight training; and I always try to fit yoga into my weekly exercise routine.

Josette: What should I look for when choosing a gym?

Mickayla: Look for gyms that are close to your home. You will feel more motivated to work out if you do not have to drive a half hour to the gym and a half hour back after you are tired from your workout.

You should not have to sign up for a membership right away. Just about every gym will offer a free trial. Take this time to try out different classes and see if you enjoy the way they are instructed. Try out the equipment and weights to make sure they fit what you are looking for.

As you try out different gyms, consider what type of gym-goer you might be. Are you someone who enjoys going to classes or do you want to do things on your own? If you enjoy classes, find a gym that offers a variety of different classes at times that would fit your schedule. If you would rather do things on your own, look for a gym with equipment and weights you will feel comfortable using. If you have children, ask whether the gym provides childcare. Cleanliness of a gym is also a factor to consider.

Josette: When going to the gym, what’s the best time of day for embarrassing myself in front of as few people as possible?


Mickayla: Slower times of day are usually  between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., and also between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. But don’t worry! Remember, everyone goes to the gym with a goal to get healthier.

Josette: Are there people at the gym who can help me learn to use the equipment? How do I find these miracle workers?

Mickayla: Almost every staff member at most gyms has at least a basic knowledge of how their machines work, or they will direct you to an employee who does know. The easiest way to find these people would be to go to the front desk or office. I would not recommend going up to a staff member who looks to be working one-on-one
with a client.

Josette: My workout plan is to hit the gym, go every day and lose my first 20 pounds by next Friday. Does this sound like a realistic goal?

Mickayla: As much as everybody wishes this were a realistic goal, the truth is it’s not. It’s not even a safe goal to drop that much weight in that short of a time frame. Everybody’s body is different and some will see their weight drop quickly, but it may take longer for others.

Josette: Got it. Who should I talk to about setting realistic and safe goals?

Mickayla: This is where you should be looking to a fitness trainer. Also, you can go to your doctor to see what your weight loss should be.

Josette: I have nothing to wear to the gym. Am I going to need matching workout gear?

Mickayla: Don’t think of the gym as a fashion show. As long as your clothes are appropriate and functional, you never have to worry. For bottoms, running, basketball or yoga shorts, sweatpants and leggings are all good options. For tops, wear comfortable t-shirts, tank tops or sweatshirts. For women, a supportive sports bra is a must!

Wear a good-fitting sneaker. No sandals! If you want to splurge on one article of workout clothing, splurge on sneakers. Other than that, don’t spend a fortune on clothes you will just be sweating in.

Josette: What else should I bring?

Mickayla: Bring a water bottle. Maybe a phone or iPod to play music and some headphones. A towel to wipe your sweat and lay on equipment before you sit. And bring a good attitude!

Josette: Any other gym etiquette I should be aware of?

Mickayla: Be courteous to others, don’t hog the equipment — especially during busy times — and wipe down equipment when you are done. Put your weights back where they belong, save phone calls for after you leave and respect personal space. Around this time of year the gym may be overly busy, but just try your best.

Lastly just be nice to people and don’t judge anyone — everyone is there with the same basic goal to get healthier.

Josette: Thanks, Mickayla! I’m feeling ready to go work out. And I promise to be nice and not judge anyone while at the gym — including myself!


Josette Plank is Assistant Editor at Central Penn Parent and, yes, she has been to the gym this year. No embarrassing elliptical events happened during her exercise session.

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