Tips on Overcoming Gym Intimidation

Stepping foot in a gym for the first time can be one of the most intimidating and nerve-wracking things out there.  

It takes me back to the first time I joined a gym in 2009, an Anytime Fitness club in my hometown.  My mom had a family pass so I went with her one day.  I walked in and instantly felt like I didn’t belong.  All of the equipment looked confusing, I saw guys double my size lifting weights five times my size, and I had no idea how to do anything or where to even begin.

The only thing I ever did there was the elliptical for 20 minutes because it was pushed against the wall in a corner so I was able to hide away from everyone and plug in my headphones.

Just like starting anything new, I felt embarrassed and out of place, and like I didn’t belong.  If you’ve ever felt this way, or know someone who does, read on!  Following are my top five tips for overcoming gym intimidation!

  1. Bring a friend/Make a friend: Going into the gym for the first time and trying out all of the equipment is scary, but not nearly as scary if you have someone doing it with you! When I really got into lifting in college, my roommate and I would lift together every single day after we were done with class! We each found different movements on the Internet or workouts we wanted to try and then we would do them together.  It ended up being so much fun and I truly looked forward to lifting with her every day, because were always laughing and having a good time.  Eventually we attracted the attention of a few other girls, who would come to ask questions or even hop in and lift with us sometimes.
  2. Start at home: Buy a set of dumbbells and start learning movements at home. Watch YouTube videos or tutorials of how to correctly do the movements.   This way you will be able to walk into the gym feeling more confident.  I will caution you though, make sure you are watching videos from a credible source to ensure you are learning proper form right from the start! If you’re looking for somewhere to start, my Lift with Laura program includes at home workouts with demo videos of each movement! All you need is a set of dumbbells and a resistance cord.
  3. Wear a hat: This may seem silly but it helped me a TON when I first started going to the gym. I would wear a hat and pull it far down over my eyes so that no one could see my face!  This made me feel more private and protected and that no one would know me.  Wearing a hat also helped me stay focused and less likely to be distracted by anyone else around me.
  4. Blast that music: My absolute favorite thing! Think of one song that gets you really excited, pumped up, and instantly puts you in an “I’m going to dominate the world” mood.  For me, this is “No Hands” by Waka Flocka Flame.  Yes, I know that’s soooo 2007 but hey, if it moves me, that’s all that matters!  Find songs that get you pumped up to go to the gym and listen to them over and over!  If you need a playlist to listen to, I created this one with my favorite “world domination” songs!
  5. Hire a trainer or schedule a walk-through: Most gyms these days have some type of special where if you sign up you get two free personal training sessions with a trainer, or at least a walk-through of how to use specific equipment. The University fitness center where I once worked had these available free to all members, and it was just 45 minutes long!  The trainers walked individuals through all the pieces of equipment, instructed them on proper use, form, etc.  See if your gym offers this, and if they do, take advantage of it!  If you want more hands-on assistance, (at least at the beginning) consider purchasing a few personal training sessions.  Even two sessions can be enough to get you started off on the right foot, and from there you can take it on your own and ask staff members questions if you feel comfortable doing so.

Look, at the end of the day, everyone is there for the same reason – and that is to better themselves.  Even though it may initially seem like all eyes are on you while you’re at the gym, I can promise you that’s not the case. Occasionally there will be someone that annoys you, makes you feel uncomfortable, etc., but the best thing you can do is ignore that person.  Before you know it, you’ll be the one people are coming to for help in the gym.  You do you, sister!

Until next time.

Peace & Love,

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