This is a good question! In my experience, the number one reason why a lot of people don’t go to the gym is that they’re afraid that they’ll be judged.
I think this feeling is due, in part, to the fact that exercising can be unnatural to a lot of people. With the various machines and all that iron, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and intimidated when you walk into any gym these days.
Every gym has an atmosphere. I live in a college town. On campus we have a HUGE gym with multiple basketball courts, a conditioning room, a few group fitness rooms, an indoor track, an indoor pool, a sauna, and a weight room that’s over 3000 square feet complete with two olympic platforms and any machine you could imagine. In town, we have some personal training studios, and somewhere in the ballpark of 3 other gyms. One of these gyms is relatively private, one is more of a family-oriented gym (the one I’m a member of), and the other one is full of obnoxious staff and obnoxious people–each of whom seem to own a rather high horse and enjoy sitting on it.
I think that the key to enjoying any experience at a gym really rests with the staff. At my gym, the staff welcome you by name when you come in. They’re more than happy to demonstrate exercises and offer fitness assessments, as well.
I think that a lot of people are afraid that they’ll embarrass themselves. That’s why I try to make fitness education a big part of what I do. People should have confidence in the gym, not cockiness or reservations. I’ve also found that most of the time, if you take the time to interact with another gym member you’ll generally have a positive interaction. People generally want to be nice.
Creating positive experiences is generally enough to motivate an individual to come back for a return visit.
I’m interested to hear what everyone else has to say!
I think that Marlan has listed a fair number of reasons which are all valid.
But here I am, a personal trainer myself, and I do not like going to a gym. My personal reason is that I simply do not like the noise. I am rather noise-sensitive at best of times, and I often found that the music was played at levels that I found very uncomfortable. Add to that the fact that I am a classical music lover. During the years when I trained my clients at a gym rather than at my studio, there was more than one day when I was ready to shoot the loudspeakers.
Well-meaning suggestions to use headphones are not a good idea because if I have to turn the volume up to loud that I can block out the outside noise, I am jeopardizing my hearing.
Gyms can be smelly and noisy along with being a time consuming event.
The thought of having to get in my car, drive to a gym, find a safe place to store my stuff, make sure there’s no sweat left from the last person on the handles I’m going to touch, adjust the seat or resistance or incline or whatever then actually do the workout seems like so much wasted time.
I prefer Outdoor Bootcamps or putting on my shoes and going for a hike!
For me it’s too time consuming and I think mentally it makes some folks overwhelmed just thinking about ‘having to go to the gym”.
Finding other ways to workout are not only possible but totally realistic. I now take my in home training clients outside every chance I get. It’s a great mood booster and energy enhancer.