How to Build Confidence at the Gym

How to Build Confidence at the Gym

A gym membership can be a great way to build a regular fitness routine into your life.  But so many people are intimidated by the gym, or certain parts of the gym, and so they stay away.  Instead of avoiding your fear, it’s time to build up some confidence at the gym!

I’m going to address two groups of people in this post, starting with people who don’t go to the gym at all because they don’t have the confidence to go, and then moving on to people who do go to the gym, but don’t have the confidence to utilize all that the gym has to offer.

Gym Avoiders

If you don’t go to the gym because you are afraid to, the first thing you need to do is figure out exactly what you are afraid of.  There are usually a few common fears people have about the gym.  Let’s take a look.

Are you afraid that you will be the only out-of-shape/overweight person in the gym?

Ok, this is only going to be the case if you join a bodybuilding gym.  If you are looking at your regular neighborhood gym, you are going to find a diverse group of people.  There will be young people, old people, thin people, heavy people, toned people, flabby people, newbies, and advanced exercisers.  You will not stand out like a sore thumb.  You will blend right in with the rest of the people trying to get in a good workout.

Are you afraid that you won’t know how to use the equipment?

Well, you probably won’t.  Most gyms will give you a tour and an orientation gym session where a personal trainer will take you through and show you how to use all of the machines.  If they don’t offer this, just ask.  You are much better off getting a quick tutorial than standing on the treadmill for ten minutes trying to figure out what all of the buttons are for.  Everyone is new at some point.

These are just a couple of the fears that you might be dealing with.  Identify what exactly it is that you are afraid of, and realize that you have nothing to fear.  As long as you don’t show up wearing a pink tutu, you will not be the object of everyone’s criticism.  Most people at the gym are so focused on their workout that they don’t even pay attention to the other people around them.

If you are out of shape, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.  I mean, you’re at the gym trying to change that, so there’s really no reason for anyone to judge you.  If you feel really uncomfortable about working out around men, then look into a women’s only gym.

Gym Goers

So you have a gym membership already.  That’s great!  Hopefully you are using it regularly.  But are you using everything your gym has to offer?  Are you going to the gym 3 times a week to walk or run on the treadmill and that’s it?  A lot of people do this and I think, Why don’t they just get a treadmill for home if that’s all they want to do?  The gym has so much awesome equipment for you to use and diversify your workouts.  You are paying for it, so you might as well use it!

Other Cardio Machines

If you stick to just the treadmill, it’s time to explore some of the other cardio machines.  Your gym will most likely have elliptical machines, stair steppers, stationary bikes, recumbent bikes, rowing machines, and possibly others.  It’s good to mix up the machines you use so that you constantly surprise your body.  You want to use different muscles, and you want to use your muscles in different ways.  Rotating which cardio machine you use can help you bust out of a plateau or an exercise rut, and help prevent overuse injuries.  Most cardio machines have a similar digital display, but if you are unsure just ask an employee how to get started.  It will literally take one minute to show you.

Group Exercise Classes

If you watch the group classes going on from the comfort of your treadmill, you are missing out!  There are so many different types of exercise classes, you are sure to find something you like.  Your gym will most likely have a schedule posted somewhere, even online.  You may find offerings that include spinning, Zumba, toning classes, Pilates, yoga, cardio dance, cardio kickboxing, step aerobics, and so much more.

If taking a class intimidates you or you worry you will look silly, I understand that.  But once you take one class, I’m telling you, you will be addicted and coming back for more.  Sure, you may not be able to do everything right away and you may not know the routine as well as the other participants who have been taking the class for a lot longer, but you will pick it up.  Let the instructor know you are new and stay in the back if that makes you more comfortable.  I find that the people in group exercise classes are very friendly.  It is usually a very social atmosphere.  Plus you will work a lot harder in a class than by yourself because you have to keep up.

The Weights Section

I think this is the section of the gym that women fear the most.  If you go to a co-ed gym, you may associate this part with beefy men who grunt when they lift their weights.  Yep, I have seen this too, and it can be enough to turn a girl away.  So again, if the whole co-ed thing isn’t working for you or allowing you to get the full gym experience, then it’s time to go elsewhere.

If it’s not the men that scare you but the weights themselves, well that’s a whole other thing.  Maybe you have no idea what to do with free weights, or how to use a weighted machine.  To overcome this, you can ask a gym employee for help.  Or you can do some research online to get some basic moves down.  As you get more comfortable, you can add to your repertoire.  Strength training is how you will truly change your body, so you really don’t want to miss out on this section.

Other Tips

Another thing you can do to help build confidence at the gym is to go with a friend.  Safety in numbers usually works.  Also make sure you wear clothes that are specifically made for exercise, and that you feel comfortable in.  Come prepared with a towel for wiping sweat and a water bottle.  Be sure to follow gym etiquette for wiping down any machines you use when you are done.

Don’t let fear hold you back from going after your goals.  Explore your local gym options.  Find out what each has to offer, and choose one that you feel comfortable with.  Look for friendly, helpful employees that are visible at all times.  Then just take it one step at a time.  Go slow, but keep making progress and changing up your routine by trying out different things.



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