Whether you’re a man or a woman, the gym can be a scary place. You may feel intimidated by the fitness level of the other gym goers. Everywhere you look it seems like everyone around you are the poster children of the latest health and fitness magazine.
1. Accept your body. Confronting your body issues may be tough. Lets face it! It’s very hard not to compare yourself to others in the gym. After all, there are mirrors EVERYWHERE! It’s hard to avoid. Remember, that even “Johnny GYM Rat” next to you had to start somewhere and was probably just as intimidated in the beginning of his journey. Take a breath and relax. You got this!
- Remind yourself that each person’s body Is unique and has its own imperfections (even the fittest person), but these imperfections help make us the wonderful beings we are. We are all designed exactly the way we were meant to be, and that makes each of us a superhero in our own way. Love your body and all of Its uniqueness. Look past your perceived shortcomings. Focus on what you can do today and how you are going to progress tomorrow.
- Meditate on positive thoughts and using self-acceptance. Affirm your mind toward the new you. Your “Mindset” is vital in your daily fitness routine. Additionally, positive actions daily activate our feel-good hormones and create new neurons, essentially rewiring our brains. This will help you to abandon your old habits and replace them for more productive ones.
2. Ignore Negative Nancy. Beware, she comes in many forms. Sometimes she might be in the form of the neighborhood Super Mom or a 6 foot tall Turf Jerk. Let’s face it, they aren’t just found in the gym, but all around us in daily life. Unfortunately, sometimes the gym seems to be the place where the worst side of people comes out. You just never know what people are working through in their lives and the gym might be their only escape. However, you can not let the negative actions of others dictate your future.
- Remember misery loves company, by thriving on attention and your reaction. At times it’s just best to avoid giving someone’s negative actions or words any type of attention. In this case ignoring them is the best defense to help you to stay on your game.
- Avoid the enemy from within: I’m all about self-talk. It’s a great way to walk your mind through processes, problem solve. and visualize your future. However, it’s only a matter of time before the enemy from within us starts making himself known. You remember him right? The voice that fills our minds with self-doubt, shame or guilt? Mental whispers telling you “You’re a failure”, “QUITTER!”, “You can’t do it!” become his mantra. The longer you listen to your enemy’s bullying tactics, the stronger he becomes Don’t let that voice from within you take hold. It will rob you from discovering a new healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life. Visualize your doubts, fears and obstacles or challenges moving out of your way. Your path toward great things will become clearer everyday, and any failures or setbacks are only opportunities to learn and to get better.
3. What’s with all the mirrors? At first it might seem like they’re everywhere in the gym and some gyms have more than others. So, your first question might be… why? Well, the purpose of the mirrors in a gym isn’t for vanity. Those type of mirrors are in the locker rooms. They’re also not used to stare at you or anyone else. Gym mirrors are supposed to be used as tools to assist you in proper exercise technique. Mirrors also can help you to avoid injury
- Watch your form: When you are first starting out and are not used to most exercise movements you may think you are doing a move correctly. when in fact you may not be. It’s normal don’t worry, you don’t have the muscle memory yet, nor are your muscles used to the way you are telling them to move. That is what the mirrors are for. Use the mirrors to make sure you are using correct posture, form, and safety. When you are doing a move, watch that you are doing it correctly, then close your eyes for a minute and purposefully focus on where your body feels like it is in the movement so that you can repeat the exercise without the mirror safely. That leads us to the next item, proprioception.
- Proprioception: (Defined)Perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body. (Defined)The sense of the relative position of one’s own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.
- Motivation: It’s easy to get lost inside your head about how you are doing and feel a sense of defeat. Particularly when you can’t see your progress. you can feel like you’ll never get there. The mirrors are a great tool to check in on your form and your transformation. When you catch yourself thinking about the mirrors, deliberately change your focus to envisioning the end results of your hard work Use them for what they are for and remember to check your progress!
4. Avoid comparing yourself to others. This is one of the most defeating things you can do to yourself. in or out of the gym. But I get it, if you’re surrounded by people who are thin and fit. it’s easy to feel intimidated. I am telling you though, don’t let yourself fall into this trap.
- Instead of comparing yourself to anyone else, think about your own goals and past. How far have you come in your life to now be going to the gym and working out?
- Flt on the outside doesn’t always mean fit on the Inside. Your health isn’t dictated by how perfect or fit your body looks on the outside. I have seen many fit and “healthy” people fall down in the middle of a marathon from a heart attack. Focus on your health, flexibility, endurance and agility, not on how you look.
- There’s another very Important and powerful reason to go to the gym that has nothing to do with abs, muscles, or how fit you look. Endorphins. They’re sometimes referred to as the brain’s “feel-good” hormones. and are the body’s natural painkillers. The pituitary gland releases these bad boys during periods of exercise. Endorphins interact with the the brain receptors that reduce your perception of pain. That’s a WIN, and can aid in serious stress relief for mind and body.
- Focus on your goals not on others. You’ll be able see the little improvements that are happening along the way. You’ll value your time at the gym instead of being scared to go.
5. Take control of your health. Others may try to give you advice. Take it in stride and assume the advice was truly meant to be helpful. Be polite and thank them for their time.
- There may be people that aren’t qualified trying to “teach” you how to do exercises, or what you should be doing to achieve your goals. It is not recommended to begin any exercise regimen without consulting a physician or a certified personal trainer.
- If you’re uncomfortable with a certain exercise, ask questions to clarify the technique or benefits. Then, decide for yourself if it’s for you. Ultimately, it’s your health and you are responsible for it.
6. Have a plan. When you first walk into the gym, especially if you have never been in one, not knowing where to begin may feel overwhelming. Having a plan before you arrive will help cut down on the stress and anticipation of getting started on this journey.
- Be sure to equip yourself with the right tools. Wear the right clothes. But instead of getting caught up in shopping for the trendiest fitness apparel, wear something you are comfortable in, and that you won’t be thinking about how you look in it the entire time you are there. Make sure you have a bottle of water, phone or MP3 player, and probably a small gym towel to wipe your brow. Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you bring a gym bag and a lock to secure your belongings in the locker room so you don’t have to huck all your stuff around the gym floor. This will free you up to focus on yourself.
- Start with a beginner’s routine. With a quick google search, you can find easy gym workout routines for people just starting out with stability or simple movement. Of course these are not one size fits all, but they will give you an idea of where to begin so you don’t walk into the gym looking like a deer in headlights. A short 15 minute warm up, getting your heart rate up, stretching, some stability exercises, body weight only movements (no weights, even if you can, to make sure your form is correct before adding weights), and keeping your workout to no longer than 1 hour are all good suggestions for your first day.
- Remember, one step at a time. A couple of important things to remember are, to not over do it on the first day, and try to keep it to no more than 3 workouts a week until your body adjusts. The last thing you want to do is to go nuts on your first day back (or ever) and wake up the next day feeling like someone punched you in all your muscles. That can lead to never stepping foot in the gym again. And doing too many days per week at first is a good way to burn yourself out quickly. That’s why it’s called ‘training’ right? Start at the beginning and work forward.
7. Choose the mood you will workout in, on purpose. Good news! Your mood doesn’t have to be subject to those around you or your environment. One of the absolute best ways you can choose to focus on the mindset you want is to listen to something purposeful or inspiring when you workout. This can include your favorite music, audiobook, or podcast. When you do this, you are able to essentially shut out distractions and have an uninterrupted train of thought and focus during your time at the gym. Here are some ideas to get you going in the right direction.
- Get lost In your favorite music playlist or online streaming app. Make a playlist of high tempo beats that motivate you to move. A great way to keep yourself encouraged when you start to get tired and wonder if you can finish your workout is a back to back playlist of your favorite high energy songs. Mine has anything from house, dance, rock, to nostalgic music. I always turn mine all the way up to block out any other distractions. It seems to help me keep going way longer than I do without it! Or, choose a peaceful or calming sound. If you aren’t the type to need the fast and loud for motivation, or would benefit more from music that induces peacefulness, calm, and reduced stress, choosing this type of playlist might be better. Music you might hear during a therapeutic massage may help you focus on self, mental clarity, and body awareness. Yoga, running, body weight or balance exercises would all be great with this option. I tend to use Pandora or Amazon Prime Music and create stations that suit my activity. Spotify is a great option for this as well.
- Start an audiobook collection on Audible. Something new and powerful I started doing this year was signing up for an Audible account and leveling up my growth and motivation through some pretty amazing books. I have never been someone who just sits down and gets lost in a book, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to start reading the books that everyone was recommending and that I so badly wanted to read. Until I found audiobooks. Now I consume books on a regular basis and I absolutely love how much they get me thinking, growing, and improving. And they don’t all need to be focused on personal growth. There are some outstanding books out there that are just entertaining and put you in a great mood or make you laugh. You’d be surprised how affordable it is, and I download and listen to my books right on my phone app.
- Check out a few podcasts. Aren’t familiar with podcasts or not sure where to go to find them? Essentially, they are episodes of an online series or program. Podcasts are a great way to listen to content you are interested in, all over the world, for free. You simply subscribe and are notified when a new one is uploaded from the publisher. There are podcasts about almost everything. Choose a topic and you are bound to find a podcast online about it. You won’t run out of content to keep you interested, encouraged, educated, entertained, inspired, or engaged.
You don’t have to let feelings of intimidation rule your world and prevent you from going to the gym. Instead, learn ways to overcome these feelings. With practice, you’ll be able to overcome this fear and achieve your fitness goals.
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