If only we could all have our own private gym where no one could stare us down while we’re minding our business in the corner doing squats! This is a thought that has run through my mind when I was first starting my fitness journey in the gym.
It is as equally hard as it is intimidating to step foot in the gym for the first time. With all the muscle men in the weights area, the treadmills being full, and not knowing how to properly use the machines – there is a lot going on! Some of my initial gym fears were:
- the fear of doing an exercise wrong
- the fear of people staring at me
- the fear of not knowing how to work a machine
- the fear of comparing myself to people who are stronger or more fit
- the fear of it being too crowded
- the fear of judgement
Here’s the important thing to remember: everyone started as a beginner. No one walked in the gym for the first time and immediately was fit and knew how to use all of the equipment.
I first started my fitness journey in college. I used to go to my campus gym and run on the treadmill for a little bit, then leave. And that was only because I was too scared to try out any of the machines.
I then restarted my fitness journey after having my daughter Blakely with at home workouts. After a few months of consistently working out at home, I finally got the courage to get a gym membership again. My fiance Casey and I joined the YMCA near our home and have now been going for almost 5 months!
When I first stepped foot into this unfamiliar gym, it was uncomfortable. I didn’t know where anything was, I didn’t know how to use the machines, I didn’t have a plan. It took about a month of going 3-4 times a week for me to finally get comfortable enough to go without Casey. It takes time and consistency!
Like I said, everyone starts as a beginner. The more you go, the easier it will be.
I hope you feel encouraged and gain confidence in overcoming your fear of the gym after reading these 11 tips from a girl who has been there.
11 TIPS ON HOW TO OVERCOME YOUR FEAR OF GOING TO THE GYM
1. GYM TOUR // CHOOSE THE RIGHT GYM FOR YOU
- When Casey and I first started to look for a gym in our area, I did tons of research. The biggest factors for us were a great childcare and reasonable cost, but it’s important to decipher in the beginning what is most important to you when looking for a gym. With the YMCA as our number one choice, we set up a tour which I think was SO helpful to become familiar with the gym. It helped us to get to know the layout and meet some of the employees and trainers.
2. GO WITH A BUDDY
- As intimidating as it is to walk into the gym for your first workout, I recommend going with a friend for the first time or so. This not only gives you an accountability partner, but it helps take some of the fear out of showing up alone.
3. HAVE SOMEONE MORE EXPERIENCED SHOW YOU HOW TO USE THE EQUIPMENT
- The first few times at our new gym Casey and I went together and he would help me with how to properly perform an exercise or use a machine I had never used. It helped me to gain enough confidence with the machines to where I eventually didn’t need him to stand there with me anymore. Now, I go to the gym alone in the morning and feel capable and confident with the machines since he taught me!
4. PREPARE YOUR WORKOUTS AHEAD OF TIME
- Having a plan is ESSENTIAL before going to the gym. Whether you’re creating your own workouts, using a workout you found on Instagram, or following a workout plan (I use the Madeline Moves App), having a plan gives you the structure and confidence to keep your mind focused on the workout, and not wondering if people are staring at you.
5. WEAR WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL CONFIDENT
- This is a big one for me. If I’m wearing something that I’m uncomfortable or self-conscious in, I’ve found I’m uncomfortable and self-conscious my whole workout. What makes me feel confident is picking out clothes that feel good on me. I’m a sucker for Lululemon, but I also love to workout in Set Active, Beach Riot, Free People Movement, and Gymshark.
6. CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME FOR YOU
- I’ll say it, I hate going to the gym when it’s crowded. I am way more worried about what other people are doing when there are more people around me. The gym daycare at the Y opens up at 8, so I try to get there around 8:30/9 where it’s less crowded since most people are already at work by then. If your fear has to do with a crowded gym, I recommend asking an employee when the least crowded times are at the gym and going then. Every gym is different, but early mornings are always less crowded than late afternoons I’ve found.
7. LISTEN TO HYPE PLAYLIST OR MOTIVATIONAL PODCAST DURING YOUR WORKOUT
- Hype yourself up – you made it to the gym and you’re doing something great for your body!!! This might be an unpopular opinion, but I love to listen to podcasts during my workout. Some of my favorites are The Skinny Confidential and Gals on the Go. I also love a good hype playlist on Spotify. Some of my favorites are “Beast Mode” by Spotify and “Hot Girl Walk” by Hannah Meloche. Be sure to have your music or podcast picked out and ready before you get to the gym!
8. ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT
- This is a hard one for me. I wouldn’t consider myself a shy person, but put me in the gym and I’m terrified to talk to anyone. The more I’ve gone to the gym, the more I am getting over this fear. Recently I was at the gym and there was only one bench open. It was propped up, and I didn’t know how to adjust it back down to be flat. After trying to do it myself, I finally let my guard down and asked the man next to me to help… and he did so happily!! It’s so important to remember that everyone is human and it doesn’t make you any less than for not knowing how to do something.
9. TRY A PERSONAL TRAINER
- Getting a trainer is another great way to help you get comfortable with the gym and the machines. It also adds a sense of accountability to help you show up for yourself! If you don’t know anyone who is experienced with gym equipment like my tip #3, this might be a great option to try.
10. TRY SOMETHING ELSE IF YOU DON’T ENJOY IT.
- The gym isn’t for everyone. And know that you don’t have to go to the gym to get a good workout in. People workout from home, at boutique classes, even outside at the park and still get in a great sweat. If you’ve tried it time and time again and still can’t find joy in it, I’d say it’s time to try something new.
11. JUST START AND KEEP SHOWING UP
- It might be uncomfortable at first. But the more you go, the less scary it will be. Keep reminding yourself that you are working on improving yourself and doing a good thing for your body, as well as everyone else in the gym. I don’t know about you, but it brings comfort to me to know that I have something in common with everyone in the gym: prioritizing our health. It is “me” time for you and everyone there, and I promise everyone is focusing on themselves and their own workout.
I really hope that at least one of these tips can help you to overcome your fear of stepping foot in the gym. Remember, growth doesn’t come from staying in your comfort zone.
Please share any and all tips in the comments below that have helped you get over your fear of the gym! Let’s share some positivity <3
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