I’ve been attending a PiYo class at a new gym for a few weeks now (read more about that here). Last weekend when I came in the manager joked that one of these days I was going to break down and join the gym. So I decided to do it. For what I was paying weekly for my classes, I could get a monthly membership that included unlimited classes.
That first day I decided to stay and workout after my PiYo class. I spent some time on the elliptical, while trying to stealthily scope out their other machines. I finished off with a few free weights- squats and lunges mostly, and abs. I was super excited when I got home and immediately mapped out the times I could hit the gym around James’ schedule- which wasn’t easy to do!
Before signing up I had really only visited that gym on Saturday mornings. It was never super crowded, and mostly made up of average people trying to lose weight. Lots of women on the cardio machines, and a few guys lifting. Nobody super in-shape or ripped, and not all that intimidating.
Apparently the clientele varies greatly depending on what time or day it is! The next time I went was late Monday night and it was packed with super fit girls on the treadmill in their tight workout gear and jacked dudes lifting in front of the mirrors. And as I looked around, I could feel myself being overcome with gymtimidation.
What is gymtimidation? It’s that self-conscious, confidence-vanishing feeling one experiences when faced with an intimidating, embarrassing, or potentially awkward situation at the gym. It usually involves fear of being judged- on anything from fitness level to uncertainty on how to use the machines. It’s the reason you pick the treadmill by the trashcan over the one with someone already running on it. It’s a real feeling, and most people experience it at some point- regardless of your gender, size, strength, or how fit you are.
A new survey from Cosmopolitan Body UK found that twice as many women as men deal with gymtimidation. According to the survey- 44 percent admit to fearing the weight room, 14 percent blamed glances by male gym-goers for their anxiety. Women were most afraid of appearing out of shape and looking clueless around weights (while just 20 percent of men were afraid of looking clueless). I decided that I wasn’t going to let this stop me from achieving my fitness goals; after all, I’m paying for that monthly membership now and I plan to use it dang it!
Tips to Get Over Gymtimidation
- Write down your workout plan ahead of time. Plan what you want to accomplish during your workout before ever setting foot in the gym. This way, you will hold yourself accountable to finish what you wrote you would do. There are TONS of workout plans online and on YouTube. Check out Tone & Tighten for some of my favorites. I keep mine in a note on my phone, but you could also write it down on a small piece of paper to keep with you.
- Start small. Proper form is so important. Not only do you not want to look like an idiot, but you definitely don’t want to hurt yourself. Start light, or even no weight, until you get the technique down. Do you care how much the guy next to you is curling? Exactly. No one really cares. You are your only competition.
- Practice at home. I’ve been working out with a trainer that comes to my house for months. I’m finally to the point where I feel really comfortable using free weights/ dumbbells. I’m not at all comfortable using the machines. The machines are great though because they can help you isolate specific muscles that you might not be targeting exactly with dumbbells. I like to research how to use the machine properly before heading to the gym. I love these quick and to the point exercise guide videos from BodyBuilding.com.
- Bring a friend. I’ve found it’s way less intimidating to work out with a friend. I’m more relaxed and less worried about what’s going on around me. If you don’t have a workout buddy, bring your headphones! Get in the zone with a really awesome jam session. Search Pinterest for great playlist ideas.
- Focus on you. If you go into the gym confident and with a plan, you are less likely to be distracted watching other people (or watching people watch you lol). Don’t worry about how much that person is lifting, or how amazing someone looks in their Lululemon gear. And don’t compare your beginning to someone’s middle. Everyone starts somewhere, and there’s probably somebody out there wishing they were starting where you are.
Have you ever suffered from “gymtimidation”? What did you do to get over it?