Many people aspire to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, which medical professionals have long advised is an essential element of a healthy life. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, every week and some muscle-strengthening activities that focus on all the major muscle groups on two or more days per week.

While adhering to such an exercise regimen might not appear that difficult on the surface, many men and women know just how difficult it can be to make the transition from a relatively inactive lifestyle to one in which exercise is a significant part of the daily routine. Much of that difficulty stems from the intimidation many people feel when visiting a gym. Walking into a gym for the first time can be similar to the first day of school, when a lack of familiarity with one's surroundings inspired fear and anxiety. But there are ways individuals can make their first forays into the fitness club a success right from the start.

* Familiarize yourself with the layout prior to your first workout. It's easy to feel like an outsider when visiting a gym for the first time. Your fellow members already know their way around, and you might be hesitant to ask any of them for advice as to where certain equipment might be. To avoid a wasted workout opportunity spent wandering around the gym, ask a gym representative to show you around once you're ready to start exercising. Such a tour was likely provided when you signed up for the gym, but the layout is easily forgotten between that visit and your first workout. Allow a trainer or another gym employee to show you the ropes right before your first workout so you don't feel as though you're lost in a vast sea of dumbbells and treadmills.

* Accept the gym's offer of a free training session. Many fitness clubs offer a free consultation with a personal trainer to new members. Accept this offer regardless of your fitness level or familiarity with the facility. The trainer can help you find your way around and tailor your workout to meet your goals. You may even find working with a personal trainer is something you want to do, and this can prove a great introduction to a service that many men and women find valuable and motivational.

* Don't worry about what your fellow members are doing and thinking. One of the biggest mistakes you can make at the onset of a new fitness regimen is paying too much attention to what your fellow members are doing. Just because someone working out next to you can bench press a few hundred pounds does not mean you should attempt to follow suit. It's easy to feel as though your fellow gym members are watching you workout and judging your performance, but oftentimes nothing could be further from the truth. They're likely too locked in on their own workout to notice what you're doing, so don't feel embarrassed if you  feel like you're not lifting enough weight or going easy on yourself on the treadmill. The more you workout, the more comfortable you'll become and your performance will reflect that comfort level. What's more, the more comfortable you become the less attention you will pay to your fellow members.

* Find a time that works for you. When beginning a new workout routine, it helps to visit the gym at different times to find the time that best fits your schedule and makes you feel most comfortable. Beginners often prefer to avoid peak hours when fitness clubs tend to be most crowded. Many clubs are most busy during the post-work hours of 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. During these hours, beginners may feel intimidated by other members who appear to be in tip-top shape or frustrated when having to share machines with other members. But some beginners might be motivated by a packed gym. To find the time that's right for you and your schedule, visit the gym at various times of day over the first couple of weeks of your membership. Once you find a time that fits, commit to visiting the gym at that time several days per week. Establishing a routine is essential to making your exercise regimen a success.

* Go with a friend. Enlisting a friend to workout with you on the buddy system is a great way to stay committed to a workout routine. A friend who works out with you can motivate you to go on those days when you really don't want to, which is a significant hurdle to clear for beginners and veterans alike. When choosing a workout partner, make it known to each other that you both expect to be held accountable to your joint commitment. 

Beginning a new workout regimen can be exciting and intimidating. But beginners can employ several strategies to ensure their new lifestyle is a hit right off the bat.