If you’ve been putting off exercise for a while, but finally plucked up the courage to sign for a gym membership, it’s likely you’ve begun to feel a little apprehensive and aren’t really sure what to expect from your first experience.

Stepping into a gym for the first time can be a little daunting, what with a plethora of scary-looking equipment and fitness fanatics who know exactly what they’re doing; but you shouldn’t be put off by this.

Feeling nervous is completely normal, since you’ll be stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something totally new. So if you’re wondering how to overcome the first-time nerves, follow these tips:

Focus on yourself

It’s easy to get distracted when you first enter a gym, whether it’s from watching how somebody else is working out or bumping into someone you know and stopping for a chat. Rather than looking at what, or rather who, is around you though, concentrate on yourself.

If you go into the gym with a workout routine in mind, stick to it without any distractions. Being completely focused on yourself means you’ll get the most out of your workout and begin to see results sooner than if you waste time by seeing what’s going on around you.

After all, the gym is a place to exercise, not to socialise. Save catching up with friends until after your workout.

Ask for help

Some pieces of equipment in the gym can look more complicated than they actually are, meaning some gym goers tend to steer clear of them to avoid making a fool of themselves.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, though. There will be personal trainers and assistants on hand to show you the ropes – whether it’s how to work the squat rack or even creating a personalised workout plan for you to follow. The latter may come at a price depending on the instructor, but it will help you to get into the swing of exercise.

Stay hydrated

As you sweat, your body loses fluid, which can leave you feeling dehydrated. Therefore, it’s important to keep hydrated during your workout by replacing your body’s fluid losses with water or a sports drink.

Keep a bottle handy to save you having to make multiple trips to the water machine.

Wear comfortable clothes

The clothes you exercise in will impact on your performance. For example, extremely tight, uncomfortable clothing will leave you feeling restricted and flustered, whereas clothes made from lightweight, breathable material will enable you to exercise without constraint.

If you’re unsure about which clothes to wear, visit a local fitness shop and speak to an assistant who will be able to advise you on the best clothing for your workout needs.

Don’t give up

Most importantly, don’t give up! Of course, you’ll have days where you feel like your workout wasn’t very productive, which can leave you feeling unmotivated and deflated. Not every workout will be a complete success, though.

Remember to keep your head held high, take a break and return to the gym with a clear mind. The number of good days are bound to cancel out the bad ones. What’s more, once you begin to see results you’ll know how much your hard work is paying off and you’re sure to love keeping fit.