The Best Ways To Get More Comfortable At The Gym
Upon opening the door to the gym you are greeted by the front desk staff who look good but have a bad attitude. This gym session already starts off on the wrong foot. The second you emerge from the locker room it’s all eyes on you as you settle on a machine. Your pulse quicken, insecurities rises. You don’t make eye contact but continue to feel the judging daggers from pumped-up men with bulging biceps and sports bra wearing Barbies showing off their perfect abs. We have never felt more uncomfortable before even breaking a sweat.
Am I using the machine right? Is my form correct? Do I look silly? Do I look fat in my workout leggings? Do I look like I am weak? Am I working out hard enough?
We sign up for a gym membership to better our health and up our fitness game. And don’t get us wrong, we know how much a good workout makes us feel like a winner. But there is something about working out in a new gym that makes us feel like a loser.
Better yet, it makes us feel judged—especially if you are a woman.
According to a study conducted by Fitrated, a platform for gym reviews, 51.4 percent of people surveyed reported to avoid the gym because of anxiety or fear they will be judged.
The company surveyed 1,000 Americans regarding their insecurities at the gym. Among the more than half Americans who skip the gym because they are not comfortable included 65 percent of women and 36 percent of men. That is a whole lot of ladies who suffer from the fear of being judged when working out publicly.
According to the study, these anxieties were heighten in women and men who felt less in shape, less attractive or less experienced at the gym.
The survey also found that 69.6 percent of participants felt judged at the gym, mostly for reasons like their weight, improperly using equipment, not looking fit enough and improperly doing an exercise. But 34.1 percent admitted they too have judged others at the gym.
Gyms Make Us Uncomfortable
After speaking to a personal trainer, this reporter learned that many gyms place the exercise equipment like weight machines in the middle of the gym’s layout. Cardio equipment like treadmills and ellipticals are also often facing towards the middle of the room. As a result, there are an “all eyes on you” feeling when working out. The trainer claimed that many gyms that provide low costing monthly membership do this to purposefully make gym goers feel uncomfortable. They want customers in and out—or better yet to not come at all —while these people still pay the membership fee because it doesn’t break the bank.
In comparison, some of the more expensive gyms provide more open layouts with lots of space to find a corner to workout in. The weight machines might be in one corner and there often even is women only rooms.
While this observation may or may not have some real merit behind it, think about if you would feel comfortable enough to work out in a gym when it feels like everyone is staring. That’s enough to make any fitness lover feel self-conscious.
Some gyms even use body shaming marketing ads in an attempt to get more members. These are the ads that include a perfectly tone and sculpted women in a sports bra, or that ad from Gold’s Gym of a pear with the text, “This is no shape for a girl.”
— USA TODAY Opinion (@usatodayopinion) August 18, 2016
Of course, this is not the smartest marketing, but at the end day those looking to lose weight or work on their fitness will sign up for a gym.
How To Get More Comfortable At The Gym
Working out at the gym doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. But leaving those anxieties at the day is a little easier said than done, especially for first-timers.
There are ways to get more comfortable at the gym.
1. Take Advantage Of That Personal Trainer
Many gyms offer a free session with a personal trainer with a new membership. It can be scary to workout in front of a pro, especially those who feel really out of shape. But having someone who can correct form and show the member the ropes is a great way to get your foot wet at a new gym. Try to swallow your pride and take advantage of that personal trainer. This could help prevent injury as well as make you feel more comfortable when doing the exercises by yourself the next time.
2. Take A Class
Some gyms offer classes as part of their membership (sometimes for an additional cost). This is a great way to start working out without feeling lost or unsure of what to do on specific equipment. Try a TRX class to learn how to use the equipment or a powerlifting class to learn proper lifting form. Spin classes are great for its dark environment where you can just focus on a good sweat without others staring.
3. Bring A Buddy
Most gyms offer free guest passes. Use these to bring a friend or family member who has similar goals or who may be more used to working out at gyms. They can show exercises or be a running companion on the treadmill. Better yet, sign up with a friend and always come together, in the beginning, to ease nervous. Power in numbers when braving those staring members.
4. Go Off-Peak Times
Just like how January becomes one of the busiest months for gyms (New Year’s resolutions), there are times of the day where there are more members working out. This includes after work from 5 p.m. on. Opt instead to wake up early and get the workout in before work. There are still many who have the same idea or prefer to workout in the morning, but chances are there are a lot fewer people at the gym at 6 a.m. then 6 p.m. Those who are students or have flexible work hours benefit the most by going mid-day when most people are behind their desk.
5. Plan The Workout
Don’t go in not knowing what you plan to do. Having a game plan makes a person feel more prepared and thus more comfortable. And it also helps motivate a person to even make it the gym. Just like we plan out our runs (mileage, day and time), schedule a gym session. Be specific like running on the treadmill for 30 minutes then focusing on arms and abs exercises. The next time make it legs and back day. Pick a few exercises like bicep curls, dips, overhead and tricep extensions that you are comfortable with doing and run through them for a few sets.
6. New Outfit, New Playlist
Nothing is more motivating than a powerful playlist while rocking those new workout leggings. Put on that new workout outfit that makes you feel good. Then play a new playlist and drown out everything else going on around you. Chances are if you feel good, you will be so into the workout you won’t be focusing on what others might be thinking. Practice a little self-confidence and tune out the negativity.
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Things
The more you go to the gym, the more comfortable you will get. That means being brave enough to try out a new machine. Spend some time watching (not staring!) at others using a machine that interests you. Ask them if you have the proper form when it’s your turn if you aren’t shy. Those who are can ask someone who works there. However, there are often pictured instructions on the machine, so introverts can just follow along without having to talk to anyone. Don’t worry about feeling silly. Adjust the weight to be more realistic to what you can handle and just zone out into the workout.
Another good tip is to build up a fitness base so a new gym member doesn’t feel intimated or too out of shape. Start by running outside or bike riding. Then incorporate the gym 2-3 times a week. Stick to a routine and keep going. The only way to feel more comfortable at the gym is to keep going. With that said, if a gym isn’t giving you the right vibes, switch to another gym. There are plenty of options out there. Start with a free trial and see how you like a specific gym before becoming a member. Most gyms bill monthly so after you are charged, you are stuck in a way with that gym for the month. Do some homework and see what gyms friends go to and why. Ask questions and ask for a tour of the gym. Chances are eventually you will feel at home at the gym if it’s a comfortable fit.
- A Shocking Number of Women Avoid the Gym for Fear of Being Judged, Fitness Website ,
- Workout Worries, Gym Informational Website ,
- A Shocking Number of Women Avoid the Gym for Fear of Being Judged, Fitness Website ,
- Some gyms are trying to get customers by body-shaming them, News Website ,
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