Are you afraid of the gym? Do you feel threatened by the beefy people filling the free weight room? Do you get intimidated by the amount of weight someone else is lifting? Do you often skip exercises or alter your workout because you are intimidated to use a piece of equipment or to ask to work in? Do you find yourself only doing cardio and abdominal work because you’d rather die than look silly in the weight room? It’s not uncommon, so read on!
You have just as much right to be in the gym using any of the equipment you want as anyone else and to feel comfortable doing so.
1. Educate yourself! Ask a personal trainer or other gym staff to show you how ALL of the equipment works. Even if you’ll never use something…knowing how it works and what it is for will remove the mystery and intimidation factor. Knowing what everything is around you will make you feel more comfortable. Otherwise they’re just some crazy contraptions that you don’t even want to get close to. There are tons of magazines and books out for those who want to learn about working out-take the time to learn more on your own as well.
2. Be aware of your surroundings, and the other members working out. Keep your head up and watch that you are not taking over someone else’s workout station, or bumping into someone who is lifting. The best thing to do when you would like to use a piece of equipment that someone else is currently using is to ask them how many sets they have left. If they say they only have one set left, you can just wait until they are finished. If they say they have 3 or 4 sets left, you can always ask to work in. If they are up on their gym etiquette they will likely ask you if you’d like to work in. The only time this can be inconvenient for both of you is when it is a free weight bar that they are using. If you want to work in with a 250lb bodybuilder bench-pressing two or three 45lb plates per side it will mean a lot of removing and replacing of weights. In that case you may want to use a different piece of equipment or simply wait until they are done!
3. Wear something comfortable. You will be much more comfortable training if you are wearing something that you feel comfortable in. There is no rule that says you have to wear skimpy, tight, trendy workout clothes to the gym! Baggy sweats and t-shirts are also fine.
4. Worried about people looking at you? If you look around at the gym, all those mirrors that are there makes it feel like everyone can see you from every angle, doesn’t it? Funny thing is, all your worrying will be for nothing. Most people at the gym are not looking at other people-they are looking at themselves! Whether it’s for vanity reasons or to watch their form, most of the time will be spent eyeballing themselves, not you!
5. Concerned about being ‘hit’ on? Try wearing an mp3 player and the best piece of advice-do NOT make eye contact! This will show those few gym goers who like treat the gym like a singles bar that you are there to train-and not to find a date. Stay focused on your workout and they will get the message that you are serious about your training and are not there to chitchat.
I wish you all the best in your health and fitness pursuits, and I hope to see ALL of you I the weight room soon!