Gymtimidation. I think it’s something that we’ve probably all experienced at one point or another in our lives and fitness journeys. You walk into a gym (or a bike path, or a yoga studio) feeling like every single pair of eyes is zeroed in on you. You feel like everyone is judging you; are you going too slow? Are you breathing too loud? Are you not lifting enough weight? Are you using the machines correctly? Everyone else is so fit. Omg let’s just leave.
You spend more time worrying about what everyone else might be thinking that you don’t actually accomplish what you went there to do. And I hate to break it to you, but worrying doesn’t burn as many calories as it should.
Everyone has their own reason for wanting to exercise. For some, it’s to lose weight. For others, they’re trying to build muscle. Some want take control of their health, and prevent disease. Others want to be able to not get out of breath when chasing their grandchildren around. Whatever the reason is, it’s the right one. (Unless you’re using exercise as a means to punish your body – that’s never the right way to go about it).
But my point is this: if someone is in the gym, regardless if their workout goal is similar or different to your own, we should be celebrating the fact that they’re there in the first place. It doesn’t matter how slow they go. It doesn’t matter how heavy they lift. It doesn’t matter if they’re there every day, or once a week. They’re there. And that’s worth celebrating in itself.
But regardless of everyone else.. we can only control ourselves, right? And I wish I could say that jerks didn’t exist anywhere, especially at the gym. But sometimes they do. Most of the time, not a single soul in there is even paying attention to what you’re doing – it’s all in your head. But.. here are some tips and tricks to overcome that gymtimidation so you can keep working on you and becoming the best version of yourself and keep on crushing those goals.
Plan Your Workout Ahead of Time
Whether you’re going to the gym with your own routine (or one you found online), or you’re hitting up a fitness class, prepare yourself ahead of time so you can walk in feeling confident and assured. If there are any moves you’re not 100% sure how to do, look them up online. Spend time studying the gym or fitness facility online so you know where the locker rooms are, the restrooms, and all the fitness equipment you’ll be needing. Even plan the essentials you’ll need in your gym bag. Set yourself up for success so you’re that much more confident once you get there and get started.
Treat Yourself to New Activewear
When we feel we look good, then we just plain feel good about ourselves. Invest in a couple new workout outfits (like our faves from Harper & Sky) so that you can walk in knowing that you look like a million bucks. Start out on a high so you can end on one, too.
Go During “Off Hours”
Try and avoid peak hours if exercising around large crowds makes your anxiety levels soar. Wait until you feel a little more comfortable in yourself and your routine before hitting those high-volume hours. Instead, sneak away to the gym when you feel it’ll be less crowded.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Introduce yourself to the fitness instructors there, and especially the coaches if you’re taking a group class. If there’s a move or a machine you’re not 100% sure how to do/how to use, just ask! Learning how to do something the correct way will not only decrease your chances of an injury, but it’ll also help you feel more confident during your workout.
Make a stellar playlist
It’s hard to be nervous, sad, mad, or upset when you’re rocking out to some kickass music. Create a playlist that will get you pumped and excited to be at the gym. You’ll be too busy singing along to worry about anyone else.
Find/Bring a Gym Buddy
There’s safety in numbers, right? If it makes you feel better to know that you have a friend in the same room as you who’d have your back if something goes wrong, then find yourself a gym buddy and coordinate workout schedules. I guarantee that once you make a habit of going to the gym, you’ll start to feel more comfortable that you won’t feel you need to have a friend there with you each and every time you go.
Create the Culture
We certainly can’t change or control how other people behave, but we can control ourselves. Create a culture that you would want to be a part of; one that is inviting and accepting of everyone. Smile at people, don’t be afraid to make eye contact. Compliment someone. You don’t have to chat everybody up, but be willing to answer a question or help someone out if they seem new or lost. Create an environment that is friendly and open. Do your part to change the culture.
Natasha Funderburk is a wife, #boymom, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Consultant, and ACE-Behavior Change Specialist. When not watching her son play baseball, she can be found on various writing platforms, coaching her clients to live their best lives, drinking all the coffee, and conducting living-room dance parties.