The gym is intimidating and is often the reason some of my clients are hesitant to start weight training. It can be really daunting to try to figure out how to use machines, do exercises with proper form and not look like a total beginner in front of all the regulars. Trust me, I get it and I was once right there with ya. I promise you though that STARTING is the hardest part. Once you get going and the more you go, the easier it becomes to pick up those weights and feel like you belong.
Here are a few tips to help you feel more confident in the gym:
Practice at home
If the thought of going to the gym right now is paralyzing to the point of you not wanting to workout...start at home! Even if you have no equipment there is plenty you can do with just bodyweight. Practice proper form and get comfortable with the movement patterns. This is going to help you feel more confident & comfortable when you actually do get to the gym.
Even when you DO feel ready to go to the gym, if there is a new exercise you’re unsure about, it can help to do a few reps at home so the movement pattern feels more comfortable. The more familiar it feels in your body, the less awkward you’ll feel doing it around other people! Feeling solid in your form & comfortable in the exercises can help you feel more confident in the gym.
Go in with a plan
Have you ever gone to the gym, wandered around aimlessly for 10 minutes not knowing where to begin, felt overwhelmed by all the weights and just hopped on the treadmill or elliptical instead? I’VE BEEN THERE.
Going in without a plan is asking for awkwardness. Instead, I want you to go into the gym knowing exactly what exercises you’re going to do & how to do them. If you’re unsure where to start, subscribe to my mailing list on my homepage. You’ll receive a free 3 day workout guide sent right to your inbox with video tutorials on how to complete each exercise.
Not only do I want you to have a workout picked out, I want you to watch the exercise tutorial videos in advance AND know what equipment you’ll need. This way you’ll feel super confident that you know exactly what you’re doing & how to do it before you even step foot in the gym.
Know the equipment
Alright you’ve got a plan, you’ve watched all your exercise tutorial videos, you’ve practiced a few reps at home, now what? How else can you feel more confident in the gym?
Understand how to use and adjust all your necessary equipment. If your program calls for a cable machine & you’ve never used one and have no idea how to adjust it to be the proper height, that can feel intimidating! Along with your exercise tutorial videos don’t be afraid to google or youtube how to use certain pieces of equipment. Understanding this in advance is going to help you feel way less awkward in the moment.
If you’re still feeling stuck don’t be afraid to ask for help! Everyone who works at the gym should be trained on how to properly use & adjust the equipment. Some gyms will even give you a walk through of all of the equipment when you join.
Find a designated work space
If you’re still not feeling confident in the gym & you’re not ready for fancy machines, no biggie! Bodyweight, dumbbells & kettlebells are a GREAT place to start. Starting with just bodyweight can also help you master form before you start adding weight.
If you’re ready for more than bodyweight & comfortable with dumbbells but hate all the eyes on you, I want you to find your designated work space. This could be a corner of the gym, an empty classroom, an area a little off to the side, etc. It’s anywhere you would feel comfortable completing the workout. Once you find that area I want you to take your equipment & go there!
Does this mean you may not be lifting as heavy as you can for all exercises because you only have one set of dumbbells available? Possibly. Is that totally fine until you get more comfortable in the gym? Absolutely!
You can always increase weight over time once you’re feeling more comfortable. Allow yourself to get used to the environment first. I’d rather you consistently keep showing up to the gym each week, slowly getting more confident than for you to lift heavy in session 1 but feel so awkward you never go back.
Workout at “off” times
If you’re feeling intimidated by how crowded the gym is, going at 5pm post work isn’t going to be your best option. For the first few weeks try to go at non-peak times when the gym will be less crowded. If you can sneak away during the work day that’s likely going to be the least crowded time. If not, going at your lunch break or before work will be your next best options. These times are likely to be way less busy meaning there will be less eyes on you and less people to maneuver around and share equipment with. You can always switch to a busier gym time that better fits your schedule once you start to feel more confident in the space.
Work with a coach
If all of this is feeling overwhelming and you’re feeling like you have no idea where to start...hire a coach! An in person trainer can help educate you on how to use the equipment and make you feel less alone in the gym. An online coach is a great option if you want to be able to complete the workouts on your own time but still want someone to take all of the guesswork out of it for you. They’ll provide you with a workout program you can follow step by step with exercise tutorial videos. A coach will also be your biggest cheerleader and help you feel more confident overall!
Remember we all start somewhere
The last thing that may help you feel more comfortable in the gym is remembering this: Everyone was a beginner at one point. Yes even that super jacked guy hogging the squat rack. He had a first time in the gym too! I want you to try to remember that no one is paying nearly as much attention to you as you think they are. They are focused on their own workout. Even though it may seem like they’re staring at your every move, they likely have no idea that you’re panicking or feeling awkward. Everyone is in their own zone & you need to get into yours!
Put your headphones in, wear a hat if it helps, just focus on you & your workout. Come in with a plan, head straight to your workout zone & just get to WORK. I promise you it gets easier over time. The more you go, the more confident you will feel at the gym. Eventually you’re going to be such a regular that gym anxiety & awkwardness will be a thing of the past!
I promise you got this.
Interested in a custom program that fits your goals and takes all of the guesswork out of going to the gym? Shoot me an email to apply for 1:1 coaching :)