• Michelle Callahan

Suffer from Gym-timidation? 4 Strategies to Stop Sweating It!

Have you ever walked into a gym and immediately feel overwhelmed and nervous? Maybe you have never gone to a gym because it seems too intimidating. Or, maybe you went once, felt completely out of place and uncomfortable, and now your monthly gym fee is basically a donation to the gym because you've never gone back. Suffering from gym-timidation is real thing...and it happens to all of us. If this is you or ever has been you, I can relate. Just last week I finished training a client at a local gym that I don't usually workout in myself. I wanted to do my workout afterward, and when it came time, I suddenly felt that uncomfortable and anxious feeling of gym-timidation. Ironically, it was a Planet Fitness...the gym that is a judgement free zone and free of gym-timidation. But, the way I was feeling wasn't a result of anyone at the gym, or the actual gym atmosphere either...it was my fear of looking stupid or like I don't know what I'm doing. Yes, I am aware I am a personal trainer. And yes, I do know what I am doing (I really do)!! But, if you are thinking right now that I'm making this up, I promise you I am not. I even considered not working out because I felt so nervous. Thankfully I realized I was being irrational and forced myself to do the workout. Which felt great once I got started. And nobody laughed at me or thought I was stupid or that I didn't know what I was doing (at least that I know of), and after my workout I felt much better. Feeling intimidated, overwhelmed, or afraid of being judged is a real thing that anyone who has ever walked into a gym has probably felt at one time or another. You don't have to let that fear prevent you from working out. Keep reading for my 4 strategies to stop sweating it and overcome your gym-timidation.

1. Bring a friend

A workout buddy makes everything about working out better. They can be helpful in so many ways from making you feel comfortable to holding you accountable. It's a really comforting feeling to have a familiar face at the gym. You can either take a friend that has been to the gym before so they can be your guide, or take a friend that has never been to the gym before. It's kind of nice not feeling like the only new kid. Also, if you have a friend along and you do end up doing something silly...you've got someone to laugh with you!! When I first started going to the weight room at a gym I used to work at, it was scary. It was smelly, there were strong men grunting in there and it felt really intimidating. So I took a friend. And we did stupid things and we laughed together and I really started looking forward to heading to the weight room for workouts with my buddy! And I learned that those scary people in the weight room were actually really nice and helpful.

2. Work with a personal trainer

Don't have a friend to workout with? Hire a personal trainer. One of the most important things we do is help our clients get comfortable working out in the gym. We will plan the workout specifically for you, be with you for your entire workout, and help you to prevent injury and build confidence. One of the things I love hearing the most as a personal trainer is when a client proudly tells me they went to the gym on their own, outside of one of our sessions. I get so excited that they now have the confidence and knowledge to do that! And if going to a gym is so overwhelming that you can't even fathom doing it, some personal trainers offer in-home personal training. I will come to you. That way you can workout in the comfort of your own home until you build the confidence to go to the gym.

3. Scope out the gym before you go for your first workout

When you first join a gym they often ask if you would like a free tour. Take advantage of this. And if they don't ask, ask them if they can give you a tour. Just knowing the layout of the gym and where everything is, can take away the overwhelm and nervousness when you come back to work out. Another free perk many gyms offer is an orientation where they will take you around the gym and show you how to use the equipment you are interested in. And don't be afraid to ask questions of the gym employees if you are unsure about something. I can tell you from my personal experience working at a gym that I loved it when members would ask me questions or how to use equipment. I love what I do and I love helping members get the most out of the gym. I was never annoyed or bothered by a member asking questions. It's what we are there for, so don't be afraid to ask.

4. Have a plan before heading to the gym to workout

Knowing what you are going to do when you head into the gym can go a long way towards making you feel more comfortable. That way you don't find yourself wandering around and feeling like everyone is watching you fumble. Head in with a purpose like a boss and get your workout in! Don't know what your plan should be at the gym? Download a workout app on your phone like Nike Training Club. The app tells you exactly what to do for your workout. Remember that free orientation I mentioned most gyms offer? Often they will also give you a plan to follow for your workouts as part of the orientation. Or, you can have a personal trainer write a plan for you. This is a less expensive way to utilize the expertise of a trainer. One of the things I offer as a personal trainer is personalized workout plans you can do on your own based on your goals. Reach out to me and we can talk about your goals and I'll make a plan just for you to do on your own.

I understand the anxiety that can go along with walking into a gym. It can be overwhelming and a very real barrier to working towards a healthier you, but it doesn't have to be. Try out these strategies and let me know if they helped! Need a little extra help building confidence at the gym? Contact me. I'd love to help!


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