Blaring music, with bodies jumping and squatting to the request of a drill sergeant-like instructor.  Foreign looking equipment manhandled by perfectly dressed participants who look like it’s their job to workout.  Others bending and stretching somehow looking completely relaxed and zen.  Most certainly, the gym (or fitness studio) can be a scary place.

When it comes to exercise, many people feel intimidated by stepping into a fitness studio for the first time.  The thought of being embarrassed in front of strangers because of the “not knowing”, can bring their willingness to even try to a screeching halt simply because they feel out of place.

As the Health Fitness Program Manager with Corporate Fitness Works in Pensacola, Carla Rinker agrees.  Rinker says, “One of the main reasons many people feel intimidated by group exercise classes are there are so many people in the class and they don’t want to feel out of place if they can’t do all the exercises. I explain to them that everyone started out brand new at some point and there are all different fitness levels in every single class.”  Rinker adds, “many people also avoid the fitness floor because they don’t know how to use the equipment or are too embarrassed to ask and don’t want to make it look like they’re trying to figure it out.”

If you have fitness goals to reach, it’s important to shed your discouragement.  Every participant at some point was new.  And, while that may not be enough to persuade you to confidently walk through the doors, it’s important to work through those fears. 

A trainer or instructor along with the willingness to ask for help can be your secret weapon.  Rinker comments, “The instructors are there to provide modifications to either make an exercise easier or harder.  As fitness trainers and fitness specialists, that’s what we’re here for!  Most fitness staff are more than happy to provide an equipment orientation to members. We want them to use the equipment and to use it safely.”

It’s important to note that most people in the gym are concentrating solely on the work that they are performing.  When in a new environment, we allow our self-consciousness to get the best of us.  It’s important not not psyched ourselves out.  “Everyone is busy looking at themselves in the mirror.  They’re not paying attention to anyone else in the room!”

Another fear:  Many women feel as if they are too out of shape to begin.  Or “I need to get in shape before I go to the gym”, is a common thought.  Taking baby steps by realizing it’s about progress not perfection, can go a long way.  Rinker says, “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you.’ It’s a encouraging reminder for people to remember that exercise is about progression.”

Arm yourself with knowledge before going by knowing the class description, if the class is intended for all fitness levels, what equipment you should bring, if any, and be sure to voice any modifications you need or concerns you have to the staff prior to attending.  Most fitness facilities embrace knowing more about their clients so that they better serve them to meet their needs and goals.  Showing up early can be a big advantage allowing you to speak to the instructor/trainer beforehand.

Even better?  Buddy up.  Working out with a friend can be a big confidence booster.  Having one familiar face may allow you to feel more comfortable from the get-go. If you don’t have someone to bring with you, see your visit to the gym as a avenue to meet someone new.  “Many people find new friends and camaraderie in group exercise classes that will hold them accountable to attend classes regularly”, says Rinker.  Finding friends with common goals is proven to improve your motivation to stick with your fitness routine.

This month’s Bella workout uses a kettlebell, a foreign piece of equipment to many.  We encourage you to confidently step out of your box and learn something new.


Always warmup 5-10 minutes before you begin.  Consult your physician before beginning any new workout regimen. Walk/Jog/Run 800 m (that’s about a half mile). Repeat 3 rounds of each exercise 12 times. Cool down by stretching.


  • Start in a standing position with feet outside of hips
  • Grip the kettlebell with arms long and slight bend in the elbow
  • Engaging through the core, lower down and back
  • Drive hips forward to swing the bell chest height


Start in a standing position with feet outside of hips and toes turned slightly outward

  • Holding kettlebell by the side of the handles, bend slightly at the knees
  • Push Kettlebell upward
  • Return to start
  • Keep your chest lifted throughout the movement and midsection braced


• Start in a standing position with feet outside of hips and toes turned slightly outward

• Squat down as low as possible holding the kettlebell by the handle

• Drive upward pulling the kettlebell upward to chest level keeping the elbows high

  • Keep your chest lifted throughout the movement and midsection braced


  • Start in a lying position with forearms flat on the floor, elbows under shoulders
  • Brace your midsection and raise your body off the floor keeping your body in a straight line.  To modify, place your knees on the ground.
  • Pass the kettlebell from each side using alternating hands. 
  • Keep shoulders and hips square to the floor

Leah Seacrest, Corporate Vice President of Fitness & Operations at REGYMEN Fitnesshas over 25 years of experience in the fitness industry as a fitness instructor, director and studio owner.