SHAPING UP: Get past the fear of joining a group

Keeping fit.
Keeping fit.

Joining a boot camp or a new exercise class can be very daunting.

It normally takes people a long time to build up the courage to try something new because they have a fear.

Sweetcorn fritters.

Sweetcorn fritters.

What if I can’t do some of the exercises? I don’t want to make a fool of myself.

Will I be the biggest person there?

What will other people think of me? I don’t want to be judged.

Am I going to be partnered up with someone who is really athletic?



What should I wear so I fit in with the rest of the group? Will I look fat?

Will everyone else there be super fit and leave me behind?

I’ll be really embarrassed if I’m out of breath and sweaty.

If I stop, will the drill sergeant instructor scream at me?

Will I be singled out for being so unfit?

All of those negative thoughts create a FEAR in your head.

Fear is something that you create yourself. It is created in your mind when you think negatively. If you always think of the worst possible outcome, it will make you feel uncomfortable, nervous and scared, and then you will end up talking yourself out of it.

But, in reality those negative thoughts hardly ever happen! So instead of scaring yourself, turn those negative thoughts into positive ones. Think of the positive outcomes.

If you start a new fitness group the positive outcomes could be:

Make new friends

Gain more confidence in yourself

Meet people who are going to support you on your fitness journey

Feel more confident next time you put on your favourite dress

Improve your fitness so you can be more active with your kids.

Better health to avoid things such as diabetes.

Plus the usual things that make you happy like weight loss and inch loss.

If you’ve been thinking about starting a new class but been sitting on the fence for a while, try turning those negative thoughts into positive ones. Your fear will disappear.

I asked a few of my Boot Camp members to recall their fears before they joined, but what happened in reality:


“My biggest fear before signing up to boot camp was turning up on the first day and everyone else being really fit and in peak condition and I would look like a fat pudding! This was not correct there was mix of people there in different stages of fitness, everyone was really welcoming and that put me at ease and I was able to enjoy it.”


“My biggest fear was being last with an activity or being judged by others in the group. This was not the case. The group are really supportive and friendly. They keep everyone motivated and share advice.”


“Worrying if people would be slimmer/fitter and I’d be laughed at. Yes people were fitter and slimmer but I never once felt like I was been talked about, I felt encouraged.


“My biggest fear before joining was that I wouldn’t be able to manage the exercises and I would be the biggest person in the class, I found that although I was one of the bigger people there I could still do most of the exercises and the ones I struggled with could be adapted a little so that I can build my strength and fitness at a suitable level.”


“Will I be able to do it? However on joining boot camp I see there’s all kind of fitness levels and you as a trainer encourage everyone to push themselves rather than just shouting out orders.”


“My biggest fear about coming to bootcamp was being overweight and exercising in front of others and being the most unfit. But as soon as I finished my first session I felt really comfortable and everyone was so friendly. Made me realise everyone was in the same boat and there was different sizes and fitness levels.”


Sweetcorn fritters with chill and avocado salsa

Serves 2-3 (makes 6 fritters)

For the salsa:

1 ripe avocado

Juice and zest of 1 lime

125g cherry tomatoes,

quartered 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2 spring onions, finely sliced

2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

Sea salt

For the fritters :

340g can sweetcorn, drained

1 large egg, beaten

3 tablespoons self-raising flour

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

75g feta cheese or hard goat’s cheese, cubed

Coconut oil for frying

To serve

Fried eggs (optional)

1. For the salsa, dice the avocado flesh and put in a large bowl. Add the lime juice and zest, mix well, then add the tomatoes, most of the chilli, spring onions, chopped coriander and a pinch of sea salt. Set aside.

2. Now make the fritters. Put half the sweetcorn, egg, flour, and a large pinch of salt into a food processor. Whizz until smooth, then transfer to a bowl. Fold in the rest of the sweetcorn, chives and feta.

3. Heat the vegetable oil and butter in a large, non-stick frying pan. When hot, add spoonfuls of the mixture. You’ll need about 3 tablespoons per fritter. Fry, in batches, over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. You can keep them warm in a low oven while you cook the rest.

4. Stack two or three fritters onto each plate, add a spoonful of salsa and sprinkle with the reserved chilli. Top with a fried egg, if you like.


Ab and core hit

This workout only takes a few minutes so it’s ideal to do at the end of a gym workout or if you don’t have much time.

Perform 1 repetition of the below exercises, then 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.




For a full demo and run-through of the workout go to


Your Trainer: Graham Low, owner of East Coast Fitness, is an award-winning personal trainer based in Seaham. The ex-professional footballer was nominated for the Small Business of the Year and Leisure Awards at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards last year. Graham won the Leisure Award at the North East Hotels Association Awards while working as gym manager at Seaham Hall in 2012. For personal training, boot camps, small group training and online programmes email or visit