How to Get Over Gym-timidation
I remember the first time I stepped foot into a gym like it was yesterday. Not knowing the first thing about general fitness, I was extremely nervous. I enjoyed sports growing up but I wasn’t someone who carried them into high school. Fitness felt like something I should already understand so I was too afraid to ask any questions.
The intricate machines that filled the fitness center were unnerving. They were being used by people who clearly had been attending the gym for quite some time. I avoided them completely, sticking to the track and cardio machines that weren’t as intimidating. After a few weeks of working out, I stopped going. I was uncomfortable and unsure of myself.
That is not how it should be! Fitness should be celebrated. When someone makes the decision to start taking better care of themselves, they should not be judged.
According to the American Heart Association, to be considered healthy, adults should "get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week."
One workout session should focus on strength training and another working on aerobic activity. Some examples of aerobic activity include walking, running, cycling, rowing or swimming.
Sadly a majority of Americans don’t come anywhere near these recommendations.
A lack of confidence seems to be the number one reason people never workout. This tends to apply to women more as society has taught us to compare ourselves to each other. We are afraid to go to the gym and be surrounded by gorgeously toned people. But remember that all bodies are beautiful!
If you find yourself scared of being judged because you’re not as fit as the people in your gym, you are not alone! No matter your age, physical ability, or gender, this experience is universal.
Getting past gym intimidation is easier said than done but just like you can work on your body, you can work on your mind.
Take advantage of social media
There is a whole world of fitness within reach online, from YouTubers to fitness influencers on Instagram. There are tons of routines and plenty of information at your fingertips. The best thing about this is that they are all different. Fitness influencers range in many ways, from body type to lifestyle and more. This means you can find someone that you have things in common with.
Some accounts will show you exercises that you can complete from the comfort of your home. Others explain how to use the equipment that might seem unusable to you. They can prepare you for the majority of what you will face when you enter a gym for the first time. Seeing other people’s routines can be super helpful when planning one for yourself.
Find a community or make one
Beyond online influencers, there are tons of others ready and willing to help you in your fitness journey. The staff at whatever gym you choose is there to answer any questions you have. The majority of gyms have fitness trainers and offer classes specifically designed to help beginners.
Finding a friend that can guide you through machines is helpful as well. When I first started going to the gym again it was with my boyfriend. He is a fit guy who has played competitive sports his whole life. He knows the gym like the back of his hand. Having him there to guide me was extremely helpful. I promise there is at least one person in your life that can give you a hand in the beginning.
Get out of your head
People are at the gym to work on their own fitness. As much as you think they might be looking at you, they really aren’t worried about what you’re doing. They are there to work on themselves. Remember that everyone has been unfamiliar with the gym at some point in their journey.
When you are focused on your own workout you won’t be worried about others. What helps me let go of my anxiety while working out is listening to one of my favorite podcasts or artists. On cardio days sometimes I will even watch a show on my phone. Find something that works for you!
Workout during slow hours
Working out when it isn’t too busy can really help you focus on doing your own thing. This is also great for social distancing! Most gyms can tell you exact times and days they tend to be pretty full so feel free to ask an employee.
No matter what your goals are, fitness is for you!
You don't already need to be fit to start practicing fitness. There is no reason you have to be a bodybuilder with a six-pack. Your fitness level, age, and gender do not matter. You can succeed your way and ignore what everyone else is doing. Go get it!