Gym intimidation is real. If you’re a newbie working out and you’re feeling overwhelmed when going to the gym, this is the post for you! Taking your first steps at the gym can be a bit scary.
When I first started working out that’s how I felt, especially in the weights area! But now that I’ve been going there consistently for a couple of years I can confidently give you some tips based on my experience getting over gym intimidation.
Disclaimer: I am not a fitness/ health expert. All opinions are my own, based on my experiences through the years. I am in no way trying to give fitness tips, but what I am doing is giving advice based on what I have learned on how to feel better going to the gym!
I am someone who can get anxious in certain situations and I have really evolved in my fitness confidence journey, so if my experience can help someone that would be amazing. 😄
First, a bit of backstory on my gym-going journey. When I first signed up at the gym I was probably around 14-15 years old, and I only signed up because I wanted to go with my friends. We would go to the gym and maybe work out for a bit (mainly attempting to run on the treadmill) but mostly we were only there to have fun.
After a few years of not really caring about fitness (busy being a teen/ young adult graduating and all that) when I was in my 2nd year of uni I signed up to another gym, and that started my first real dive into the fitness world and I started to learn how to actually train for my goals!
I was never super consistent though because something was always holding me back: feeling intimidated at the gym. I didn’t really try all the exercises I wanted to try because I was too scared of going to the weights area, so I would shily hide in a corner and exercise with what I could.
I then moved back home from uni, signed up to the gym I still go to now and started feeling completely confident in every section of my gym! So here are my tips on how I got over my shyness and how you can deal with gym intimidation:
1. Find the right gym for you
Tip nº1. If you don’t like your gym, it will be tougher to go every time. Thankfully, most gyms let you try them out for a day. Make a list of the gyms in your area and try them out before deciding which one you want to go for! If you’re not feeling comfortable enough to try every part of the gym, just walk around, and see how you feel. Look at the kind of people that go. Is it mostly men, women, Powerlifters? If you feel like you could fit in, that’s the gym for you!
2. Just go
Okay, so my second tip for you would be to just go. Go to the gym! You’re never going to be able to feel confident there if you don’t go. If you just got a membership, get to know the place. Use the machine you feel most comfortable in, even though it’s the same one every day. Get used to the people around you, eventually, you’ll see them often and they’ll be more familiar to you.
3. Go on off-peak hours
If you can, start going the hours that there are fewer people. Of course, not everyone can go at 2 pm because of work, but try and find out which hours are the quietest that you can go to. The off-peak hours at my gym are 7 am to 9 am, 3 pm to 5 pm and 9 pm to 10:30 pm. Also, know which days are the busiest – my gym’s busiest day is Monday (most gym’s busiest day is Monday).
4. Wear something you feel confident in
Hear me out. Cute gym clothes. Honestly, the best tip that works for me 😂.
I don’t mean you have to spend a whole lot of money on new outfits, but make sure you feel good in the ones you wear! A trick some people do is to wear a baseball cap to feel a bit less self-conscious at the gym. My outfits consist of leggings, long socks, a cute top and huge headphones!
5. Go to classes
Classes are a great way to start to get to know your gym or to get in a nice workout without having to wander around the weights area. It’s also a great way to meet new people and make gym friends!
Signing up for a class can make you feel accountable and can help you fulfil your goals in a fun way. Most gyms have many class options available, so if this is something you’re interested in, find out if your gym has a variety of classes before signing up!
6. Find a corner you feel comfortable in
So you want to start working out by using machines, weights and all that jazz, but you still don’t feel comfortable being at the centre of the weights area or in front of many people. The trick is to find a corner or a spot where there are fewer people. This could be a stretching area o a separate room, or some gyms even let you use the classroom area whenever it’s free!
Get your weights and do your workouts where you feel most comfortable (or least looked at). This is what I would usually do when I started working out and worked wonders for me. I eventually got comfortable enough around the rest of the gym and now I use whichever space I want!
7. Research/ learn
One of the best ways of getting rid of that gym intimidation is to be confident in what you’re doing. Do your research, learn as much as you can about the different exercises you want to do, plan your workouts, watch videos on how to use each machine, etc.
Find an influencer you relate to and follow them. There are soo many out there, so find one that really inspires you and gives you the motivation to work out.
My all-time fave is Whitney Simmons. She’s the one that got me really inspired to start my fitness journey, and I believe she’s very good at what she does! I love her exercises, her personality and basically all her youtube videos 😂🤍. Another great one is MadFit. I found her during quarantine in 2020 and followed her workout and yoga videos for a while! She has many great follow-along videos and I especially like them whenever I want to get a workout in at home.
Influencers are often criticized in the fitness world, because like with most things, there are people that want to make money out of others and constantly try to sell to you. Of course, it’s how a lot of them make their income, so it’s normal that they would try to market their offers, but always make sure you do your own research so that you can have criteria on who to follow and trust.
8. Go with a plan in mind
This is a great tip to conquer gym intimidation! If you know what you’re doing, what’s there to be anxious about? When I used to walk into the gym with no idea or clue about what I was going to do, where I was going or what I was going to use I’d end up just doing a bad workout and using the same machines I always used.
Once I made the switch and started learning and figuring out how I wanted my workouts, I got soo much more confident and stopped overthinking everything! Now, from the moment I leave my house, I know what I’m going to do that day!
9. Go with a gym buddy
I know this isn’t always doable, as sometimes we sign up to the gym on our own or we know no one we can work out with. But if you do have someone interested in working out, use that to your advantage! A gym buddy can help you feel more confident in trying new things and can help you out during your workouts. Even if you’re both clueless, you can help each other out!
10. Ask for help, slowly talk to people at the gym
Okay, I’m not the best person to be giving this advice, since I hardly ever to anyone at the gym 😂😂. But I do if I need help, or if I want to know if they’re using something I need or things like that. If you slowly start talking to people, asking for help here and there, you’ll eventually be more comfortable in the environment and people will start to know you. If you go to the gym at the same time every day, you’ll see that you’ll bump into mostly the same people every day, and this can really help you gym intimidation!
People at the gym are usually very friendly, and they know that everyone started from 0 at some point. If you don’t know how to use a machine, ask someone! They’ll gladly help you out and you can learn some tips from them! Of course, I can’t speak for everyone, some people are grumpy, but mostly I have found that people are nice and don’t mind talking to others!
11. Remember: people actually don’t care
As I said, everyone at the gym has started from 0 at some point. (Most) people won’t judge you and they certainly don’t really care about what you’re doing, they’re just there to get their workout in! I guess most of our gym anxiety comes from thinking we’re going to look like idiots and that people are going to laugh. But the reality is, people at the gym usually mind their own business and don’t really care about what others are doing!
12. Zone out with music
Do your thing! Get in the zone. Play your favourite gym playlist and uplift your spirit. music is the best way to get motivated and to get your intrusive thoughts out of the way!
13. How I completely lost my gym anxiety: I got confident in what I was doing
Now, there’s something I have to mention in this post because it’s happened to me a lot of times and I can’t just ignore this fact. As a young woman that has gone to a few gyms in my time, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with people (all of them men) telling me how I should be doing things. This really triggered my gym anxiety at the start, since I felt like whatever I did someone would come up to me and try to tell me how I was doing something wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s bad when someone who is experienced and knows what they’re doing helps a newbie out or helps someone who could potentially end up hurting themselves. In fact, I think that’s kind of cool! It’s just that my experience with this hasn’t always been that case.
For example, I’ve had people try to correct my form when I know for A FACT that it was fine, and that was the way I wanted to do the exercise. And I’ve then seen those same people not correcting the form of a guy who was clearly nearly hurting themselves. Do you know what I’m trying to say? Basically, they just want to talk to you, but sometimes I felt like I was being spoken down to as if I had no clue what I was doing because I was the only girl there.
There was a moment when I felt I wasn’t doing anything right because they would correct my already okay form. 😅 Oh and let me just say this; I’m no trainer, but I know that everyone has a different body. So the same exercise can be done in different ways and can look different to each person. There’s not just one way of doing things!!! Just make sure your form is good and that you’re doing it in a way that feels good. 👍
In conclusion, the way I got over my gym intimidation and anxiety was by being very confident in what I was doing! Making sure my workouts were in good form and if anyone wanted to come and correct them I knew that what I was doing was already fine.
So, do you have any tips on getting rid of gym intimidation? What’s your experience been like?
Comment down below! I’d love to know 🤍