How to get over your fear of the gym
Self-conscious at the gym? That’s only natural, but believe me, you don’t need to be. With a little bit of planning and faking it ’til you make it, you can raise your self-esteem and become a gym bunny in no time. Remember these tips and you’ll be reaching your gym goals before you can say delayed-onset muscle soreness.
Everyone’s a critic
Let’s be honest, everyone is too concerned about what they’re doing to care about what you’re doing, even if it feels like everyone is watching you. People just want to get in a good workout. If people did care about others at the gym, they’d rack the bloody weights when they were done with them.
People do criticise, of course, but – and this is important to remember – they’re not criticising you. People think they’re experts and most people are keen to share their experiences through leaving reviews on Google, Facebook and other platforms. So use this to your advantage if you’re worried about going to the gym. To put your mind at ease, it might be an idea to do some homework and read some of the reviews. Does the gym have a rep for being cliquey or is it a fantastic community? Make sure it’s the right place for you before you walk through the door.
Find a gym that’s right for you
Find the class or layout that’s right for you and that will take a lot of the fear out of going. If you want a TV while you cycle or a swimming pool included in your membership, pick a nice leisure centre. If bodyweight is your thing, find a Crossfit box. If you want a no-frills membership at a decent price, check out gym chains like PureGym, The Gym Group and EasyGym if there’s one near you. You can try out gyms and pay as you go with PayAsUGym, so you can dip in and out of sessions and don’t have to immediately tie yourself in with a contract if you’re unsure what you want from a gym.
You all share a goal
Whether that’s to get a ‘beach body’ (don’t get me started on that phrase), to lose weight for health reasons or to work away the day’s stress, everyone in that building is there to improve themselves or their life in some form or another. Use this thought to inspire you – yes, there will be ‘ripped’ guys in the freeweights section, but it takes a lot of work to get to that point. And they weren’t born that way – everyone was a beginner at some point, and unless they’re total idiots, they’ll recognise this and will only think positively towards you, no matter how amateurish you might be.
What really helps me feel like I ‘belong’ in the gym is dressing in the best (yet most comfortable) clothing I can. We’re not looking for high fashion by any means but if you look good, you feel it, right? Don’t shy away and awkwardly try and hide in ill-fitting clothing, I promise you, that will get you far more attention. Hit up Sports Direct and buy yourself some new gymwear – if nothing else, you’ll have to bite the bullet and start going to get the most out of your new threads.
Fake it til you make it
I don’t mean risking injury pretending you know how the new cardio machines work or attempting to bench press your body weight without prior training. I’m talking about standing up straight, head up, looking confident and ready to smash your goals, even if you don’t really feel that way. Shying away and slouching in the corner of the gym will just bring more attention. If you look like you’re happy(-ish) in your current environment and you look relatively natural; you’re gonna blend right in.
Learn the lingo
It’s not nice to feel baffled and gyms can be confusing. Pec decks and planks? HIIT? Thankfully for you (and me) the Greatist have posted the ultimate guide to gym talk, so swot up and learn the lingo so at least you sound as if you know what you’re talking about.
Above all, enjoy it
Find out what your gym offers because after all, you’re paying for it and you really should make the most of your membership. Check out classes if they’re included, chat to the staff, read any pinboards and follow your gym on social media. A lot of gyms offer trial sessions with personal trainers and some, like PureGym, have their own workout routines for you to follow if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Find something that you love to do at the gym and those insecurities will burn away along with those calories.