I first signed up to the gym just a couple years ago, I’m no gym expert now and certainly do not go as regularly as I would like to, but I have learnt not to be intimidated by the big scary gym.
I remember being totally terrified of setting foot in the gym- absolutely petrified that someone else would judge me for not knowing what I was doing. It took me months to work up to participating in an exercise class, let alone make my way towards what I think of as “the big boy section” and brave weights.
If you recognise these feelings, then don’t worry you’re not the first and certainly not the last.
Start at the Front Door
A key place to start overcoming gym fear is to start at the front door.
Just walking around and getting your bearings does wonders for your confidence. Figuring out where the treadmills and mats are is always a good start too. Treadmills are the novice gym-goers’ best friend. Simple to use and available in most gyms you can always rely on them if you have no idea what else to do. A five, ten or fifteen-minute run once or twice a week is a great place to start! Achieving this will give you a solid base to build on.
Fake it Until you Make it
I’m a big believer in the “fake it until you make it” mentality. This is the idea that if you pretend you are confident and know what you are doing, eventually you will become confident.
The hardest part is just getting started. Use the treadmills as many times as you need to make you feel like you belong in that space. The more confident you get the easier it will be to branch out and use other equipment.
Another way to build up your confidence at the gym is to observe others! Take in what those around you are doing, you will learn a lot from people that are using machines you don’t understand.
You can, of course, ask the gym staff, that is what they are there for and they more than likely understand how intimidating the environment can be. I’m a bit of a hypocrite and never really did ask until I was a bit more confident. I found myself doing that thing, where you ask questions you already know the answer to. This got me in the habit of asking for help, which is nothing to be ashamed of.
Again, it’s a great little cheat code (I’m a big fan of these), to kid yourself into going out of your comfort zone.
Google is your friend.
Write yourself a short exercise plan to start off with using the plethora of resources available online. Watch as many YouTube videos as you need to help you figure out how to perfect an exercise. Building up a bank of knowledge and being able to revert to certain exercises that you already have mastered does wonders for your confidence. This way you never leave the gym feeling like you have not accomplished something. Achieving something that is outside our comfort zone is proven to motivate us further and encourages repeat activity.
A major factor in going to the gym, is, of course, to keep going to the gym.
If all else fails, don’t forget that the gym is a space for you to grow- not for others to put you down for your efforts.
Everybody starts somewhere, and it’s important to remember that 9 times out of 10 people in the gym are focused on what they are doing, and how they are performing- why do you think there are so many mirrors in gyms!
Written by Emma Steggles