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"The cardio machines may feel too close together, and of course, the aggressive salespeople can send anyone packing."Jackie Warner, celebrity trainer and Beverly Hills gym owner, adds that a lack of familiarity with the equipment and "gym etiquette" can scare many people away from health clubs.

But the number one tip on most experts' lists is: "Don't be afraid to ask for help." If you don't know how to use a particular piece of equipment, don't be afraid to ask the training staff, Warner says. And if they don't, leave that gym immediately."And while it can be nerve-wracking to interrupt someone's workout, it's OK to ask someone to "work in" (trade off doing sets on the same machine).

With all this in mind, you can start to move past your fears of going to the gym.

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Also be sure the trainer knows you want to be able to work out on your own as well.

Gyms have every kind of person -- young, old, skinny, heavy, male and female."Going to the gym for the first time is like the first day of school," says Trent David, a personal trainer at Gold's Gym in Hollywood, Calif.

"You may not like it, it may seem strange and lots of people hate it.

And the increase in the number of smaller, boutique gyms, as well as Pilates and yoga studios, speak to the need for all kinds of different workout spaces.

While no one is immune to new gym jitters, experts say women, particularly those over 40, are the ones most likely to fear going to the gym.


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