Thursday, July 19, 2018

5 tips to overcoming intimidation at the gym

I am here today to address the elephant in the weight room at the gym and that is intimidation.  I have come to realize that feeling intimidated at the gym is a very normal and a common feeling amongst those who join a gym and even those who have been going for a while.  I think that when it comes to working out, we are often surrounded by people who are already comfortable in that space and that can be very intimidating.  Most of you know that I decided to ditch my home workouts last week and join a gym.  I will be completely honest here and tell you that the first week was rough.  Just walking through the gym on that first day gave me major anxiety.  My heart would start pounding in my chest walking through a sea of unfamiliar gym equipment while I was surrounded by the fittest of the fit.  I felt like the gym was swallowing me and I couldn't shake it.

I left that first day feeling defeated and more than overwhelmed so I called my husband, sister and best friend (yes, all of them!) to open up about it since I knew that they had all conquered the gym in the past.  Much to my surprise, they were all like, "YES!  Gym intimidation is totally a thing!"  That's when I got to thinking, why don't people talk more about this??  It caught me by surprise how strong these insecurities can be and after talking to them about it, I took all of their advice and created a list to help with overcoming intimidation at the gym.

1. Hit the treadmill 
This was the first thing my husband told me to do and I am so thankful he did.  He has been working out and going to the gym since I don't even know when, probably early 20's if I had to guess.  Because he has been to countless new gyms, he has a system of his own and that is to go straight to the treadmills.  At the gym that we go to now, and most of the ones I've been to, the treadmills somewhat overlook the rest of the gym.  Good for people watching while running I guess?  Our gym has an upstairs and the treadmills line the balcony, overlooking all of the equipment.  His theory here is to get on the treadmill and take everything else in.  This way you can get a good feel for where everything is, get yourself adjusted and hit the equipment not as blind as you were walking in.  I stand by it!

2. Plan ahead
Because I was starting a new workout program, I looked over the exercises for the week to see what it was all about and what I would be doing.  While I was on the treadmill that first day, I noticed someone on one of the machines that I needed for my first leg day.  This was a machine that I had never used before, much less never even seen before!  I watched how they used it and seeing someone else do it before I had to gave me so much more confidence to walk up to that machine and use like I had done it before.  After realizing this, I decided to review the next workout so that while walking through the gym I 

3. Let others motivate you
This is a big one!  So many people, and not just at the gym, compare themselves to others just to end up feeling insecure, intimidated and defeated.  None of these feelings are going to work for you while trying to work out.  You have to feel good about yourself and you need confidence!  I know that isn't always easy and I too struggle with it from time to time but I always try to overcome those feelings.  I looked around my gym and do you know what I saw?  People of all ages, races, fitness levels and body shapes but the one thing they all had in common was that they were there to work out and better themselves in some way.  While there are a lot of physically fit people in the gym who can be intimidating to work out next to, let them motivate you instead.  Make goals from those people.  Whenever I see a girl in great shape, I tell myself that that's where I will be soon! 

4. Zone out
The best distraction in the gym is good music.  Make a play list, put your headphones in and turn it up!  There is nothing better for me than to workout to a good playlist that gets me pumped up and ready to kill it in the gym.  I used to do this at home to give myself a break from cartoons and kids all day and it was a nice change.  It's no different at the gym.  I let the music run through my body and just focused on that.  It took me out of my environment in a way and that was exactly what I needed to block everything else out and work out. 

5. Adjust gradually
Take the first week in a new gym to get aquatinted.  I completely underestimated how difficult working out in the gym would be and adding that to being in a new environment was a lot.  I made it to the gym 3 days for my first week and the other 2 I was flat out exhausted.  My body was drained from working it in ways that I wasn't used to.  I ended up restarting the first week of my program because I felt that I could do better now that I was adjusted to the gym and feeling more comfortable and confident being there.  I have to say, my first week compared to my second is a world of difference!  I didn't have a choice but to take my first week as I did but looking back, I should have planned to take it easy so I wouldn't be disappointed with what I was able to accomplish.

These 5 things helped me make a much smoother and confidence building transition into the gym.  What started out in defeat quickly became determination and fired up my passion to reach my fitness goals.  It takes a lot of courage to do things out of your comfort zone especially in front of other people.  Preparation is key here and having a plan going into the gym will speed up the process of getting aquatinted.
What helps you overcome intimidation in the gym? 

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