There are so many different ways to move your body, but it can be hard to find the one that’s just right for you. If you think your new favorite workout might be waiting for you at the gym, but you’re a little nervous to go find it, don’t worry; you’re not alone! The gym can be an intimidating place, even for pros. Here are 8 tips to build confidence in the gym, whether you’re a beginner or an exercise expert.
1. Dance (or lift) like no one’s watching. Because seriously… no one is watching! Unless you’re doing something totally crazy (which you’re not), literally no one is paying attention. They’re all on their phones, listening to music or otherwise absorbed in their own workout. Here’s one caveat: if you’re a woman, chances are a guy will approach you at least once to tell you a “better” way to do something. Don’t let it bother you. Just say “thanks,” and move on.
2. Be prepared. Set a fitness goal before you start and go to the gym with a plan. It doesn’t have to be a complicated plan, but have an idea of what you want to accomplish. Maybe make a list of the machines or movements you plan to use. Write down your reps and sets. There are plenty of resources online to help you get started. Or you can plan to walk in and talk to a trainer. If you go with a plan and some direction you’ll feel less out of place and feel more accomplished when you check off all the things on your list!
3. Try a group fitness class. Group fitness can be a great intro to the gym. It gets you on a schedule, which is helpful starting out. Classes are led by an instructor who can help with form and make sure you’re training safely and effectively. It’s also a built-in community, so you can make a few friends who are probably in the same boat as you are. And remember that (almost) everybody looks ridiculous in dance fitness class. Even if you get zero moves “right” you’ll still sweat a lot… and probably get a good ab workout from laughing.
4. Bring a friend. If group fitness isn’t your thing, try bringing a friend to the gym instead. Sometimes all it takes is a buddy to help you feel comfortable.
5. Hire a coach. If it’s in your budget, a personal trainer is a great resource to help you get started. A coach can help you learn all the movements safely, and teach you to use equipment properly. Even a couple of sessions with a coach can be enough to help you feel more comfortable hitting the gym on your own.
6. Embrace the free weights. They don’t bite. It can be very easy to avoid the free weight area because it’s usually populated by potentially intimidating people. But keep 2 things in mind: 1) those people are usually really nice and 2) they were all beginners at some point too! Also, free weights are an absolutely stellar way to get some serious results in the gym. So set that fear aside and go experiment.
7. Wrestle with some machines. Sometimes machines are a huge pain in the butt to adjust, but don’t let that deter you. Even pros have to wrestle the machines. It feels awkward to keep making adjustments and make loud noises, but it’s totally normal. Don’t be afraid to make a few adjustments until you get set up the way you want. If you can’t figure it out, just ask a staff member to help you—it’s literally their job and they’ll be happy to do it.
8. Gear up! Wear something to the gym that makes you feel good. It’s like putting on a uniform before a game; it makes you feel ready. That doesn’t mean it has to be all tight or fancy, just something that makes you happy. And when you walk into the gym thinking “I’m amazing!” guess what? You’ll do amazing things!
The bottom line is: just do you. Your new favorite workout (and workout wardrobe) is just waiting to be discovered. Go get it!
–Katie Feeley, Fabletics Master