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overcoming embarrassment at the gym

so, I've recently started working out at the YMCA, which is a pretty well-used gym in my area. Only, thing is, I'm 17 and feel embarassed at the gym sometimes.

I'm far from overweight, in fact I'm well inside the "helathy" weight for my height. But I usuall wear sweatpants and a teeshirt. Also, I don't know how to use a few (ok, a LOT) of the machines in the room, and end up sticking the the same machines that I'm used to.

I've overcome that a little bit: moving on the the elliptical machies for cardio, instead of the "safe" treadmill, and today I even asked some guy next to me if he knew how to adjust the seat (it was way too low for me to reach). He was really nice about it, and even adusted it for me, but my face was burning and I felt like an idiot.

Any way to overcome that fear? Or any hints to kind of "pick up" on how to use the machines without sitting and reading the manuel on the side for 5 minutes, only to find you don't know how to make yourself "fit" in the seat? lol any tricks on what's usually adjustable, and what usually isn't? [also, you usually have to pay to get someone to officially 'show you' the machines, and I don't really want to do that]

haha not to mention that some of the machines make me feel plain silly (thigh adducters, anything that works the glutes, etc etc)

Thanks, guys! =]

Sun. Dec 2, 6:49pm

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oh,. and i just don't want it to become an excuse for me not to go to the gym... I know that if I keep at it, my better body will help the self-confidence issue and make me feel more comfortable..but i'll never get there if I'm afraid to go =\

Sunday, December 02, 2007, 6:58 PM

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You could try learning one new piece of equipment per week? Usually the numbers on the seats will all be the same...Like, for me, I adjust each seat to "5" on all the machines. I had to read those side instructions when I first started, too. No one thinks you're stupid for doing that. People are not judging you as harshly as you think they are. Good luck!

Sunday, December 02, 2007, 7:04 PM

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Lots of gyms have an intro to take you through the machines. Or ask if there is a personal trainer. They can map out a routine for you and give you a rundown on the machines.

Sunday, December 02, 2007, 8:12 PM

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If your Y is anything like mine, they've got people on staff who will walk you through how to use every machine in the gym. Doesn't cost a dime. THere's usually someone who can help you create a routine as well, and I know they'll give you a fit test to figure out just what you should be doing...

If it's any consolation, Everyone feels awkward on at least one piece of equipment. You should have seen me the first time I tried an eliptical.

Sunday, December 02, 2007, 9:39 PM

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A few guidelines

1) The read-out usually has "Press START to begin" or something similar. So press it.
2) All cardio machines have a "Manual" program setting. Press that.
3) You may be prompted to enter age or weight or time - pretty straightforward.
4) The level/resistance is adjustable at all times. Push it up to level 3 or 4 and see how that feels after a few minutes and raise or lower it from there. Yes, this works for most machines and most brands - except arc trainers, whose levels go up to 100, so set the level to 20 on that one.

1) Weight machines (not the cable or freestyle ones) usually have a large sticker on them somewhere that show you the positioning (e.g. aligning some dot or bolt with your shoulder on chest, back and shoulder machines).
2) Be especially careful with these on tricep and bicep machines - that's where a small mistake can lead to pulled tendons, hyperextension and even rotator cuff tears. Most of them feel pretty awkward to me, and I opt for dumbell/barbells for those muscle groups.
3) Sometimes more than the seat is adjustable. There is usually some spring-loaded pin to pull and adjust, and they look similar on all the machines (assuming same brand). The need to adjust these aspects of a machine tends to be fairly minimal and applies to the range of motion rather than proper positioning. I rarely have to play with those pins...just the ham and quad machines, and the occasional pec deck.
4) I'm not fond of the inner/outer thigh press machine either. You can work those areas on the floor at home to a video, or do balance work (yoga, pilates, bosu, physioball).

Sunday, December 02, 2007, 10:14 PM

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