Updated: Sep 20, 2021
Tips on how to overcome the fear.
Most people have felt this at some stage on their fitness journey and many still feel it even though they are regular gym goers! I have put below a list of tips and tricks to get you started on overcoming this so you can build a better and happier relationship with fitness and your health.
First things first...
Shake off any current ideas you might have about the gym. That it's just for super muscley guys, that it's a place only for people who 'know what they are doing already', that it's boring and just about sitting at a machine doing reps reps reps until you get sick of it and leave.
The gym, and don't roll your eyes at me just yet, can be fun. You can make it what you want. And what you want will be different from everyone else! What you need and your goals and motivation will be different too. Which leads me to my first tip...
Find your why
What is your reason for wanting to go? And try dig a little here. Wanting to 'get fitter' or 'shed a few pounds' won't be enough to keep you going on those days when your mind is saying 'no thanks'.
Why do you want to get fitter? Because it makes me feel better about myself. Why does it make you feel better about yourself? Because it makes me feel capable and empowered knowing I am taking care of my body and also my mental health. Why does it help with your mental health? It lifts my mood which improves my quality of life and relationships...etc etc. See where I am going? Keep pushing with the 'why' question. When you find your motivation write it down and keep it handy as a reminder to get you going.
Your 'Why' is what you walk into the gym with. Don't let anyone take that from you.
A warm up is not only beneficial for many physical reasons (increased blood flow, joint lubrication, heart rate increase, respiratory system warming up, preparing body for movement. I could go on!) it also gives our minds a chance to warm up to the idea of what we are about to do.
If you don't feel confident in the gym know which area you are heading too first to warm up. Don't wander in and look around going hmm where shall I go. It's likely to make you feel a little lost and overwhelmed. Pick the rower, treadmill, elliptical...whichever you like! Pick it and walk over. Plug headphones in and go for 3-5mins.
Take this time to connect to your breath. Connect to your body. We don't have to wait till the end of the workout to celebrate, celebrate your win right now. You showed up. Thank your mind and body for doing that!
What's everyone thinking...
I'll tell you what they are not thinking about. In the best way possible they are not thinking about you. They are focusing on their own workout, their own rhythm.
Absolutely some people sure will be more experienced. But they are not there to judge you, they are there to workout. Those tanks working 'mirror' muscles you feel intimidated by? They are far too concerned about checking out their own biceps to notice anyone else. Some people will look like they are confident but really you'll find many people feel like you do! The point is don't think anyone is judging and remember no one else knows your level of experience or fitness so walk in with your head held high, think of it as acting. Playing a role of a badass regular gym goer because no one knows otherwise.
Do not compare yourself. (Aesthetically or fitness/strength wise).
Your body is a damn amazing thing. It is a beautiful machine that every day does millions of things for you without you ever asking. It keeps you alive. It has taken you to whatever stage in life you are at. Your body is incredible, but remember, it does not define you. How much you can lift, how far you can run, how bendy you are...none of it defines you. You are your own beautiful self regardless of any of that.
So when you step into the gym do not think 'that girl/boy' has nicer thighs than me or 'she has flatter abs' or 'he can deadlift more'. Celebrate a wonderful thing called diversity and know each of our bodies have different strengths but all of our bodies are awesome. You belong in the gym just as much as anyone of any size or shape.
Remember it's ok to be new....
Everyone else in the gym will have once been new to it. Everyone in there will have made mistakes, not known how to use a machine, not known what to do. Everyone. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself it's ok to be new. The more consistency you have with your workouts the easier that gets because suddenly you won't feel that way anymore.
The only place we truly grow is outside of our comfort zone. So each week try doing one new exercise, try one new machine, try one new area of the gym. Slowly build bit by bit. It will really help your confidence grow.
Find what you enjoy
For me personally I love using free weights and alternative modalities like kettlebells, medicine balls etc over fixed resistance machines. I love a sense of variety and creativity to my workouts. It's taken some exploration to find this out and for you it will be the same.
You don't have to do what other people do or what you think you 'should' be doing. So for the first few sessions have a play. Find out what suits you. Classes are another way to explore this if you aren't sure. Try a variety and see what style you like.
Enjoying your workouts rather than seeing them as a chore is an important step in motivation.
Create a playlist that makes you feel amazing, focus on the small wins, celebrate them and know that you belong there as much as anyone else!
Get in touch if you want any more advice or have specific questions, more than happy to help!