Say Goodbye to Gymtimidation

So you’ve finally mustered up the drive and determination to hit the gym. You’re pumped, you’re motivated, you’re wearing brand new workout gear – you’re ready to go. You pull into the parking lot, water bottle and gym towel in tow, ready to embark on the next stage of your wellness journey. Then you freeze. Your palms get sweaty, you feel a lump in your throat, anxiety rises, and everything becomes a blur. Ok, I’m being extra but you get it. The dreaded gymtimidation has set in. You think that as soon as you step foot through the door, all of the gym activity will come to a screeching halt, and every single man, woman, child, and janitor will temporarily abandon their workouts and turn to watch your glorious arrival. And that’s just the showing up part. What about after you choose a machine and begin your feeble attempt at working off this morning’s second helping of hash browns? What about then? They’re all going to carefully examine your form (which will undoubtedly be incorrect) then quietly point and laugh at how silly you look and how overweight you are. And let’s not even talk about the locker room and public showers.

I get it. Gymtimidation is real.

But, here’s the thing: it’s all in your mind. No matter where you go, there will always be one or two jerks that are indeed overly judgmental, but they probably also confuse “your” and “you’re” on a regular basis and still drop their laundry off at their mom’s house every week. For the most part I’ve found gym regulars to be focused on their own training at best and apathetic in regards to others at worst. With rare exceptions, no one is there to make fun of or stare at you. Trust me; this is coming from a girl who can create anxiety in her mind about any scenario that requires interaction with, or visibility to others. I also look really silly when I run. If I – the queen of chronic awkwardness- can hit the gym regularly without feeling completely foolish, then so can you.

Here are a few tips you may want to consider before swearing off the gym altogether:

Women’s Gyms

There are ladies-only gyms all over the place, and many co-ed gyms offer areas specifically designated for women. If you feel insecure or self-conscious pumping iron with the dude-bros, then this option might ease a little of your anxiety. Of course, if you’re a man then this tip doesn’t really help you out very much.

Have a Plan

A lot of inner turmoil can be alleviated simply by having a plan prior to arriving at the gym. This decreases the time spent wandering aimlessly from machine to machine wondering what you’re going to do next. Keep a list in your phone of the exact muscle groups you want to target, and how many reps/sets you’re going to do. This will increase your focus and give you a sense of accomplishment as you cross each item off your list.

Take a Tour

When you become a fitness club member, it is standard practice for a representative to give you a tour of their facility and amenities. Becoming familiar with the layout of your gym will be beneficial when you return because you won’t feel like the awkward freshman on his first day of high school. This ties back into having a plan and knowing what you’re in for.

Bring Your Headphones

This one is almost self-explanatory. It feels good to turn on your favorite trap playlist, put on your headphones, turn up the volume, and become completely consumed with the music and your workout. You’ll be too busy vibin’ with Gucci to even notice or care about anyone else in the room.

Take Advantage of Group Classes

Many fitness clubs offer group classes as part of your membership or at a discounted member price. These classes, such as Zumba or Spin take a lot of pressure off of the individual. You’re usually guided by an instructor through a training session that can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Print out a copy of your gym’s class schedule and choose the ones that seem tailored to your specific goals. Pro tip: get there early and find a spot in the back!

Go During Non-Peak Hours

I find that if I go to the gym on the first of the month, right after work, or weekend afternoons the gym is PACKED. Like, can’t find an empty treadmill packed. This is purely from my own experience, and of course will vary by location. Try going early in the morning or even later at night when much of the traffic has died down. The mellower atmosphere may help put your mind at ease.

Hopefully this helps address some of your fears or apprehensions surrounding going to the gym. If all else fails (and you can afford it) try investing in a few DVDs, free weights, and kettlebells to start your own mini home gym. I initially found working out at the gym to be a major headache, but seeing people around me who have achieved their fitness goals now motivates to go harder and longer and eventually become stronger. Ultimately, you're the only one in charge of becoming the best you, so don't let the actions of others knock you off course.

Leave me a comment below sharing a tip that has helped you in the gym.