Imagine if the next time you went to the gym you had no hesitations and felt totally confident.
For many women, the gym can be an intimidating space, especially if you are just starting out on a fitness journey. It’s a space that has traditionally catered to men and this can make women feel out of their element. There are all sorts of equipment that look foreign and frankly confusing if you’ve never used it before and when everyone else seems to know what their doing it just compounds the issue.
I’ve been going to the gym on and off since 2012 so I’ve weathered my fair share of gym induced anxiety. And let me tell you, when I first started going I hated it. I felt uncomfortable, insecure and this made it hard for me to go consistently. I wasn’t sure how to use the equipment or I felt like people were judging how many pushups I could do (it was and usually is still in the low single digits.) But over the years I’ve gotten more comfortable in the gym, and you can too. I’ve come up with a few of the common concerns you may face and the solutions I’ve found that have helped me.
The Equipment/Weights Issue:
When I first started going to the gym I had no idea how to even do a squat correctly. So I totally get this one. The thought of adding in a weight or some contraption seemed totally absurd. I was lucky enough to go to a gym that offered personal training, this helped me to get familiar with the equipment and proper form. If that’s an option for you, I’d highly recommend trying it for a few sessions. Because not only are you getting educated but you have someone standing there talking to you so you don’t feel so awkward. If that’s not an option, I’d recommend doing research since there are tons of websites that tell you how to use the equipment/weights.
When you’re using the equipment you should listen to your body. Gym equipment can be great but also dangerous if used incorrectly. Do not push yourself to the point of feeling discomfort. A good rule of thumb for using equipment or weights is to set your weight limit so only the last two reps are the hardest, you shouldn’t start out barely able to lift the weight.
My Self Confidence Vanishes the Second I Walk into the Gym:
I still struggle with this one. Whenever I see too many cars in the parking lot, part of me just wants to go back home immediately. But as tempting as that urge may be it’s not going to help me reach my goals. I’ve found a few things that help me.
First off, it’s important to understand and realize that even if you feel like people are watching or judging you it’s likely that they’re not. Most people just want to come, workout and leave as soon as possible. They are too busy getting through their workout to check up on your bicep curl form. I always try to keep in mind that most people are more worried about themselves than others. It’s just a fact that is a little bit comforting in this scenario. Secondly, dress to your comfort level. If you don’t feel 100% comfortable and confident when you put on your workout clothes at home then it’s going to be even worse when you get there. You don’t want to worry about your outfit when you are also worrying about form and who’s watching you. Your workout outfits don’t have to break the bank either, Old Navy has a great line of cute and affordable (especially on a sale) workout attire.
But What do I do When I get There:
Different things work for different people in this regard. I started out writing my workouts down on a sticky note before I went in. That way you know exactly what you need to do. Now I follow the SWEAT program by Kayla Itsines (more to come on this later). It tells you exactly what to do, in what order, and even has a video to show you how to do each exercise. Her program is more expensive than the sticky note method. But it’s also put together by a real trainer who knows what she’s doing. Also, if a machine is taken that you were planning on using you have to just adapt. It won’t ruin your workout to skip one machine and use another.
I’m not saying that you will never feel insecure in the gym again, I still do sometimes. But the more you push through your anxiety the more comfortable you’ll become. It may take time but the payoff will be worth it.
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Continue reading… My First CrossFit Experience