But if you are a person whose emotions about fitness have been tempered by a bad experience at school or whose body shape means you are likely to attract glances, if not actual comments, then the thought of donning a pair of trainers or walking through the door to the gym is likely to be horrifying and scary.
It is easy to say 'don't worry', but there are definitely good and bad ways of introducing an exercise regime into your life.
The first thing to do is decide what exercise you want to do. If you are after losing weight, improving your cardio-vascular [heart and lung] health, getting out of the office environment and moving more, then joining a walking, running or out-door fitness group would work well for you. These groups will have a number of ability groups so you can work at your level and you get the benefit of an immediate new social network. If joining a big group is not for you, then ask a friend if they would like to join you for a regular walk/run/cycle ride and start your fitness routine in that way.
Exercising alone is fine if you feel confident and motivated. But by buddying up with a friend, you have the extra motivation of not letting a friend down, plus a support for times when it is tough going.
Class activitiesIf your fitness needs take the form of class activities then joining a gym and signing up to Zumba, spin, Pliates, core exercises, circuits or whatever takes your fancy. It is worth talking to the instructor or a personal trainer first so you can assess what activities would suit you and at what level you should be working. Again, joining with a friend or work colleague makes that first day far easier.
Joining a gym so you can use weights machines, free weights and a range of cardio equipment is a good idea if you want a range of activities, easy access to advice and a place you can exercise whatever the weather.
A good gym all give you a thorough induction into using the machines, plus on-going assessment and advice to make sure you are following the right programme. You can ask a personal trainer to help you get started or, if you are training for a specific event, the trainer can work with you to achieve your on-going goals.
Once you start to follow a regular exercise pattern, it will become easier. Your confidence will rise, you will feel knowledgeable and in control of your own health and fitness and it will be your chance to gasp incredulously when someone says they have never set foot in a gym before.