For many people, the road to an ideal fitness level requires a gym membership and weekly visits to sweat it out in overcrowded spaces. The downside to this is that most people find the gym atmosphere unfamiliar and full of strange equipment and faces. Simply put, the gym environment is intimidating.
As someone who suffers from anxiety, I totally understand being intimidated by the gym. I assumed that someone was always laughing at me because I didn’t know what I was doing, especially when I decided to try weight training and being surrounded by muscled men.
Gym intimidation is a common phenomenon, and you may be surprised to know that even experienced fitness exercisers become frightened when they enter a new gym for the first time. Fortunately, there are many ways of dealing with intimidation at the gym. Here are some tips to help you manage yourself at the gym.
The first step towards managing gym intimidation is to pick the right gym before starting your fitness journey. There are different types of gyms with distinct clientele. If you are just starting out, you should not go to a gym serving bodybuilders or specialized disciplines such as CrossFitters. The feeling you get from these type of gyms is an overwhelming and disabling one. You get discouraged by the number of people with muscular bodies and worried about not using the equipment correctly. Rather, you should pick a small gym with a friendly and judgment-free atmosphere where nobody will look down on you. If it helps, write down a list of what you want in a gym and look for a gym that provides it.
Gyms have peak periods when most people come to exercise. Usually, this period falls between 7-9 in the morning and 5-7 in the afternoon when people have returned from work. If possible, schedule your gym workouts outside of the peak periods. That way, you won’t have to exercise in the presences of a large crowd. Training off-peak periods also ensures that most of the equipment will be free and that gives you enough opportunity to familiarise yourself with the equipment without feeling intimidated.
If you are new to a gym and you can’t find your way around the equipment, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t know how to operate some equipment, ask gym staff to help you set it up. Rather than keep quiet and let your gym membership fee waste away, ask gym staff to spot you during your gym workouts. It takes nothing to ask gym staff for help. You will be surprised at their response. But if they don’t answer you, then maybe you shouldn’t be training in that gym in the first place. Remember, if you are unsure, ask!
Music can give you the confidence boost you need to fight gym intimidation. Create a great playlist of songs that can motivate and get you going during your gym workouts, and you won’t even remember you are in the midst of a crowd. Music can increase your endurance by 15%! It is a great tool for focusing on your workouts and leave all the stress behind and just having some “me time.” Listening to music while working out can help you focus on the moment, leaving behind all the stress of the day to concentrate on the moment.
We have all been in your place, even us professionals. It’s not an easy start, but if you stick with it you’ll become knowledgeable and more confident in what you are doing! When you enter a gym and see those “perfectly” toned bodies and muscular men, don’t be fooled into thinking they were like that from day one. We all started just like you, as novices trying to lose some extra weight and get toned. With dedication and hard work, you will also get there. And remember that you are not the only one just starting out right now!
The road to ideal fitness is more of a journey than a destination. It is a work in progress, and you need all the confidence you can muster to stay consistent and keep your eyes on the goal. Gym intimidation is a little distraction along the road, and these tips should help you to overcome it.
Remember, you don’t need a gym to lose weight – The Body & Mind Programme offers a range of home bodyweight workouts, home weight workouts or gym workouts based on YOUR fitness levels.