Have you ever walked in to a gym, looked around, and felt completely lost?
Or even parked in the parking lot of a local gym and been afraid to step out of the car?
Gym intimidation is way more prevalent than most realize.
The causes of these anxious feelings include:
-Not knowing how to use the equipment
-Feeling self-conscious about our bodies
-Thoughts that the gym is only for "fit" people
-Feeling like everyone is staring at you
-Unsure how to create a workout
When I first joined the gym at 18 years old, I had no idea how to use any of the equipment. The weight room was comprised of buff college bros lifting heavy weights. I didn't fit in to that scene. So I did what most women did, went straight for the cardio machines to zone out for 45 minutes.
It wasn't until 6 months later that a friend started showing me the equipment and making me feel comfortable around the weights. I eventually worked up the courage to start braving those areas alone.
To this day, I still get a little anxious when going in to a new gym or trying out new classes. Being a newbie in a fitness setting can be tough. But the benefits of a healthy lifestyle outweight the fear.. the hardest part is just taking that step to overcome your anxiety of the gym.
Below are 6 tools you can utilize to help:
Figure out what type of gyms are in your area and decide which one would fit you best. Some gyms are more suited for power lifters, with loud music and weights being slammed. Some gyms are ideal for the average person wanting to squeeze in a good workout before or after work. And some gyms are more family-centered focusing on activities for kids as well as the adults. Once you decide which gym is right for you, find out the busy hours and what types of services are offered. If you know what to expect before you even enter the building you'll feel more willing to make it through the fronts doors.
2. Hire a Trainer
Personal trainers are there to help boost your confidence, keep you accountable, and help you feel competent with the equipment. They also take the guess-work out of building a training plan by providing you a plan that will get you closer to your goals. Even though they are expensive, if you work with one for a few months the investment can be well worth it in the long-run.
3. Find a Buddy
Doing anything alone is hard. Finding a friend to workout with gives a sense of camaraderie that will make the gym less intimidating and more welcoming. Having a buddy to chat with also makes the workouts seem less grueling and more fun.
4. Ask for Assistance
The gym staff is there to help you. Most are willing to show you some equipment and answer any questions you may have. Remember, nobody was "born" knowing how to use all the machines in the gym. Every member at some point has had to figure it out as well.
Often times the regulars at the gym are willing to help a newbie out too. They love teaching others about lifting and will respect you for showing up and demonstrating a willingness to learn.
5. Have a Plan
Bringing a workout plan with you helps you feel less like a deer in the headlights. There are tons websites that offer free workouts or you can download an app with preprogrammed fitness plans based on your current level. Many gyms will even provide a free fitness consult to help you get started so know what to do when you walk in.
6. Realize You're Probably Not Being Judged
The biggest fear most people have when they join a gym is of being judged. The funny thing is, this is the opposite from the truth.
Most people at the gym are only judging themselves.
The big guy in the corner doing bench press isn't looking at you, thinking you're weak or fat...
No, he's too focused on himself to think much at all about you.
The bottom line is you're much more invisible to other people than you realize. Everyone comes to the gym to focus on themselves. I promise they aren't there to mockingly watch you.
Fitness is a reward that everyone deserves to experience. Finding ways to push through your insecurities will help you move past the intimidation. Eventually you just might find yourself completely at home at the gym, wondering what all the anxiety was about.