Gym Intimidation: It's All in Your Head

Gym Intimidation: It's All in Your Head

As you guys know, I’ve been working out a lot the last two weeks — everyday to be exact. A friend of mine suggested I cover gym intimidation because let’s be real, everyone has it at some point. She told me some of the struggles she’s been facing, and that made me reflect on my own insecurities — and the countless times I chose to avoid the heavily populated areas even when a machine I needed was over there.

So … why do we care what other people think? I know — we all care about what people think, myself included.

I think it all stems back to one of my more recent posts about insecurities. But you know that really buff guy grunting and dropping weights? I bet there’s something he’s insecure about. Or that super fit girl squatting with all the guys? Her, too.

We’re all too scared that we might look dumb or do something wrong, but do you really think those other people are there to watch you? No, they’re there to better themselves, just like you are. And also, just like you, they started somewhere. Who knows, maybe it was exactly where you’re starting.

Maybe for you, that’s not it. Is there a person you’re trying to avoid at the gym? Don’t give them the power over you. Never let your insecurities — especially not a person — dictate your life, your goals, or in this case, your physical health.

But all of this is easier said than done. So, to help you get more comfortable in the gym, here are some things that helped me overcome gym intimidation.

Find a workout buddy. I honestly think this is one of the best ways. Then, you’re not in it alone. Maybe you don’t have a friend that goes to the same gym as you. Most gyms have guest passes. Ask a friend to come with you a couple of times and explore new areas. It gives you a chance to become more comfortable, and hopefully, it’ll help you feel more confident with different machines and exercises, so you aren’t afraid to go back on your own.

Go at a less busy time … at first. If your main concern is that you don’t know what you’re doing because you’re new to working out, go when it’s not so busy. Practice those workouts, get good at them, feel like you know what you’re doing. That’s a big thing for me. I want to know I’m using a machine correctly before doing it when the gym is super packed (it’s an insecurity, I know). But once you know how to do certain lifts and how particular machines work, it just becomes routine, and all of those people fade to background noise.

Attend group classes. Like I’ve said before, I love going to group classes because you learn new things! And even better—maybe you’ll make new friends! Some of my favorite lifts and workout routines, I’ve learned in a class. And since you’re learning them firsthand in person — and hopefully the instructor is helping you or adjusting things — it’s easier to do later on your own.

Pay a little extra for a personal trainer. Although you may feel strapped for cash … don’t we all? It might be worth paying a little extra for a personal training session or two. And a lot of gyms will even give you one free session, which is definitely worth looking into! The trainer can show you around the gym, introduce you to new workouts, and explain how to use those intimidating machines.

Just like you’re at the gym trying to get physically stronger, take it upon yourself to get mentally and emotionally stronger, too. Fight your insecurities and overcome them. Once you do that, obtaining your goals will become easier.

In the end, it’s not about the other people at the gym, it’s about you. I hope this helps anyone who might be struggling with gym intimidation!

Shelbie Renee


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