Let me just get this out of the way right now — I refuse to the use the term “gymtimidation” when referring to gym intimidation. I don’t care if it takes longer. I hate mashup words like this, and I will not use them. This is the hill I’m willing to die on.
Okay, now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s get into the feeling of being intimidated when you walk into the gym. It’s a real thing. I’ve been going to the gym on a consistent basis for years now, and I still have days where I feel intimidated by the other people working out there.
Feelings of intimidation when they’re in the gym hold a lot of people back from working out on a regular basis. In fact, the results of one study showed that up to 50 percent of those who were surveyed felt daunted by the idea of working out among others that the gym.
Gym intimidation is definitely normal, and you’re not alone if you feel it. It is possible to overcome this feeling, though. You don’t have to let it hold you back from reaching your health and fitness goals.
Listed below are five of my favorite, tried and true strategies for overcoming gym intimidation.
1. Keep Your Workout Simple
If you’re not very confident in the gym — yet — I recommend keeping your workout simple. There are lots of workouts you can do that require just a few pieces of equipment like a pair of dumbbells or a kettlebell (like this workout).
Start by doing these workouts on your gym days. That way, you won’t have to move all around the gym and inspect every piece of equipment to see if it fits your needs. If you do a workout that just requires a few pieces of equipment, it’s also easy to take that equipment to a not-so-busy corner of the gym and do your workout there.
This piece of advice might seem strange at first. Shouldn’t I be encouraging you to march into the gym, own the place, and do whatever you want? If that works for you, go for it. I have a feeling, though, that if you’re reading this blog post, you’re not really the type to do that.
I’m all about taking up space, and I want to be clear that you have every right to workout anywhere in the gym that you want. I’m also a realist, though, and I get that it’s harder, when you’re not comfortable in a particular space, to position yourself right in the middle of it from the get-go.
If you’re the type who likes to ease into things, start with a workout that you can do in one area of the gym. Later, as you get more comfortable, you can venture out into other parts of the gym.
2. Commit to One Day Per Week
If you’re brand new to working out in the gym, I don’t recommend diving straight into the deep end and trying to exercise there five or six days per week. You could totally do this if you wanted, and it might even be easier when it comes to establishing a habit of going to the gym.
At the same time, though, trying to commit to five or six days per week at the gym when you haven’t even been working out once is a pretty big leap.
That’s why I think it can be helpful to start by committing to just one workout the gym per week. Over time, once you’ve made that a habit and feel a bit more comfortable there, you can add in another workout or two throughout the week.
3. Go with a Buddy
If you’re brand new to a gym, you might feel more comfortable going with a friend.
If you have a friend who already works out at a gym, see if you can get a membership there and join them. Or, you and your friend could join a gym together and hold each other accountable to make sure you complete your workouts.
Having a friend there can make the process of learning the territory and getting familiar with the equipment much easier.
If you have someone to talk to and work out with, you’ll likely be much less self-conscious than you would be if you were working out on your own.
4. Plan Your Workout Before You Go
Being in a new gym and trying to learn the layout and locate all the equipment you need is challenging. It’s even harder, though, if you’re not even sure what equipment you need in the first place.
I’ve totally been in this situation before. You go into the gym without a plan and you end up wandering around aimlessly, picking up a couple of dumbbells here or trying out a machine there before you decide to call it a day.
If you want to avoid this aimless feeling and the concern that everyone is watching you (even though they aren’t — see point number five), I recommend planning your workout before you leave for the gym. That way, you’ll know exactly what you should be doing, and you’ll get a more effective workout in.
5. Remember, Nobody is Watching You
Finally, remember that it’s highly unlikely that anyone is watching you during your workout.
For the most part, gyms are hotbeds of insecurity. Most people who are working out there are too busy worrying about themselves and how they look doing their workout to think about your workout and whether you look weird or seem like you don’t know what you’re doing.
Let’s say, just for fun, that someone actually is staring at you at the gym and judging you.
This is where the old adage “what you think of me is none of my business” comes into play. Even if someone is judging you during your workout, that says a lot more about them than it does about you. I touched on this briefly in this post, but I’ll say it again here. If someone is paying super close attention to your workout, they’re the one with the problem.
It’s hard to overcome feelings of gym intimidation. If you remember this point, though, it becomes a lot easier to focus on yourself and stop worrying about what other people are doing or might be thinking.
Start Overcoming Gym Intimidation Today
Gym intimidation is totally normal, especially if you’re new to working out in the gym or haven’t worked out in a long time. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for your next workout and you’ll have a much easier time feeling comfortable in the gym.
What’s your go-to tip for handling gym intimidation? Let me know in the comments down below!