Whether you’re an experienced gym-goer or a beginner, these tips can help overcome the anxiety that comes with stepping into the gym, and specifically, the weight room.
By Sabrina Rodriguez
Naturally, we’re all going to experience some enhanced nerves when we step foot in the gym, especially in the weight room. Walking up to the (usually) male-dominated area, with a bunch of people who appear to know what they’re doing, is quite intimidating. The nerves kick in, you forget what you’re doing there and then you either run to the stretching room to try a few exercises, or you revert to your favorite cardio machine.
I don’t blame you! I’ve been lifting for over five years, and I still find myself feeling anxious, but my friend, there is whole new world beyond the cardio section. Although we know building strength increases longevity, enhances energy and induces I’m-tough vibes, those are facts. The weight room is so much more than a place to build big biceps. Confidence, self-assurance and resilience are built in the weight room; owning the space we take up, knowing our worth in that and finding joy in the discipline it takes to reach a goal is something you deserve just as much as anyone else.
You owe it to yourself, and I want it for you, so that’s why I’m sharing my top six tips to overcome intimidation in the gym.
1. Go in with a plan.
It doesn’t need to be elaborate. Really — keep it simple! There are a ton of free resistance-training workouts you can find online to follow, or you can mix and match exercises to fit your workout preference. As a beginner, or even if you’re a regular but want to try a new exercise, do your homework and research the exercises before going in. You’ll get more bang for your buck that way.
2. Use social media to set you up for success.
The things you scroll through and internalize everyday can make or break how you perceive yourself and the world around you. If you’re consistently looking at images of men or women with low body fat percentages, who attend “cooler” gyms and wear all the hip brand names — stop looking at these posts! Abs can be found anywhere on the internet if you really need that kind of “motivation.” Unfollow those unhelpful and self-esteem deteriorating accounts, and try to limit your social media usage. You do not need to look anywhere other than yourself to inspire your workout in the gym.
3. Wear something that makes you feel empowered.
I’m not saying you need to go head-to-toe in Lululemon, new Nike’s and a full face of makeup; however, I do recommend wearing something that’s both comfortable and empowering. Fashion (whether casual or formal) is an expressive form of art, so naturally we feel our best when we are most comfortable with how we present ourselves.
4. Listen to pump-up music.
Coffee might be a universally known booster, but did you know motivating music can enhance your performance by 15 percent? That’s according to a study Brunel University’s School of Sport and Education. If you listen to piano music in comparison to electronic club music, you’ll easily notice how different your body feels between the two genres (relaxation and serenity versus excited and groovy). There’s a reason why relaxing music is so prevalent in massage spas! Listen to the songs that pump you up and make you feel good! It will quickly translate into the power output and confidence you’ll have during your workout.
5. Realize that everyone is focused on themselves, not you.
The weight room is the place for being self-centered. Sure, people may glance at you for a second when you walk in, but remember, they’re not focused on you! It’s a natural beginner habit, but if you can keep that thought in the back of your mind, through practice, you will build the resilience to walk into the gym and ignore others. You’ll naturally refocus your attention to yourself and your workout. That’s why you’re there in the first place, right?
6. Know your “why.”
Remember you’re at the gym for yourself — to enhance your health, to feel your best, to accomplish your goals. What others think and what they’re doing is none of your business, and vice versa. Get in, work hard, make magic happen, feel good and get out.
You deserve it. Now go kick some butt!
Sabrina Rodriguez is an enthusiastic writing consultant, body-positive advocate, blogger, traveler and aspiring fitness professional who is obtaining her B.S. in Exercise Science from Grand Valley State University. Sabrina plans to further pursue her work in positive health psychology and fitness so she may continue to empower women through intuitive living, the cultivation of strong mindsets and building confidence within her fellow sisters.