9 Ways to Beat Gym-timidation
Intimidation of the gym is a common fear and one I personally struggled with when I started my journey just six short years ago. If you are feeling overwhelmed or intimidated at the gym, I've put together nine tips that you can implement today that will help you overcome gym intimidation in no time!
Tip #1: Have a plan prior to going to the gym.
I can't stress this enough. Without a clear plan of attack, going to the gym can be super overwhelming and cause more anxiety. With all the machines, barbells, dumbbells – where to even start? When you have a clear plan of exactly what you're going to do, you're more likely to have a more effective and efficient workout because you won't be focused on figuring out what to do next.
With a pre-determined plan, you'll also be able to watch videos for every movement in your program prior to going to the gym. This will give you confidence – you'll know how to perform the movement. If you are looking for a program to follow, check this out!
Tip #2: Focus on yourself.
When we get inside the gym, it can be easy to think everyone is looking at you, judging you, or making fun of you. The reality is – 99% of what you think other people are thinking is not true. It's all in your head. Instead of wasting your energy focusing on others, use that energy to focus on yourself. Hold your head high; be proud of yourself; remember that ultimately you're there to better yourself.
So grab those headphones, turn on your favorite playlist, and tune out everything else (also: if you have your earbuds in, people will be less likely to chat with you!) You'll be amazed at what can happen from turning your focus inwardly instead of externally.
Tip #3: Get involved.
I get it – understanding what every machine is used for can be intimidating. Depending on your experience level, it can seem daunting with all the elements a gym offers. The weights, the machines, the barbells, the classrooms, the cardio equipment... the list goes on.
The best piece of advice I received years ago when I first started out was this: hire a personal trainer for one or two sessions and use that time to have them show you around and ask them to teach you correct form. I understand you might not have the luxury of doing that in-person. There are other ways! The power of the Internet now is incredible!
Get involved with an online community where you can ask questions, seek advice, get tips and tricks for form, etc. The fact that you are able to connect with thousands of others like-minded people from around the world is invaluable! If you are looking for an online community that is fun, safe, and one you can trust – you're welcomed to check our community out by clicking here.
Tip #4: Try a class.
Sometimes the best way to get acquainted with a gym and other gym-goers is through classes! Classes are typically posted on the gym's website, or you can simply ask the front desk for a class schedule. Whether it is a morning yoga session, a mid-afternoon spin class, or a nightly Zumba session, most gyms have tons of different options and styles of training to pick from.
While in class, keep an eye out for people you may want to stay in touch with to be your gym accountability partner. Who knows – you might just meet your new best friend! All that to say, classes can be a great way to get involved and get in the habit of going to the gym before branching out on your own.
Tip #5: Go to the gym off hours.
Sometimes, the sheer volume of people can create intimidation or anxiety when going to the gym. If that is a trigger for you, I suggest you ask the front desk what times of the day are less crowded and plan to go then! When starting out, it is always nice to have fewer people to worry about when learning new movements and machines.
Tip #6: Dress Comfortably.
It is so important that when walking into the gym you are comfortable. It can be easy to see others walking around the gym in certain clothing, but remember why you are there in the first place – to better yourself! So, instead of trying to measure up to what others are doing, focus on clothes that make you feel most comfortable. This will tremendously help you stay focused on training instead of picking apart how uncomfortable you're feeling.
Tip #7: People are nicer than you think.
True, it can be super intimidating seeing others in the gym that walk around like it's their job. However, I can assure you that most people at the gym are in the same boat as you – working on bettering themselves. Most are always up to support and encourage anyone doing the same. Don't hesitate to ask for help, whether that be adjusting a piece of equipment or politely asking them how many more sets they have on a specific machine. More often than not, others are happy to allow you to "work in" your sets.
Tip #8: Workout with a friend or a mentor.
Having a gym buddy can be super beneficial, whether you are first-timer in the gym or have been working out for a decade! Sometimes it's just nice to have another person doing the exercises with you to ensure your form is correct, encourage completing those last few reps, or spotting you when you're attempting a personal record (pr). Remember: this journey is not meant to be done alone, so grab a friend (or two) and get your sweat on together! This is also a great way to hold you accountable to the workouts that you said you were going to do.
Tip #9: Try a different gym or workout at home.
If you have genuinely tried going to the gym and are still agonizing over it, either look for a new gym or workout at home. There is nothing wrong with trying out a few gyms to see which is the best fit for you (classes, cardio, and weights area, along with the atmosphere)! Some prefer local gyms over commercial, and still, others prefer women-only gyms. There is no right or wrong gym preference; pick what makes you feel most comfortable. If you have tried all the gyms in your area and are still feeling anxiety, then workout at home! There are tons of easy ways you can break a sweat at home!
Remember that every person in the gym once had their first day, and many also had mixed feelings about starting their fitness journey as well! Because of that, rest assured that they fully understand and respect the feelings that you are currently having! This journey is about putting one foot in the door of the other, day by day conquering small and large victories. Be sure to celebrate your small victories along the way and before you know it you'll be like "What gym intimidation? This is my gym!”