Use these tips to avoid feelings of intimidation in the gym, for good
It’s easy to feel intimidated and incapable in the wild jungle that is the gym. Whether it’s the machines and equipment that gets you down or the people that surround you, ‘gymtimidation’ can stop you from progressing in the gym. More importantly, it can affect your happiness there.
Here are 10 tips that have helped me to overcome Gymtimidation once and for all.
A few months ago, I initiated a gym membership at a gym that I had never been in. Before my first session, I decided to write affirmations to help with my lack of confidence. I voiced the affirmations out loud before going to remind myself that I am able, even if I didn’t believe it. Confidence is the belief in oneself, so why not practice believing in yourself?
Prompts: I am strong
I deserve to be in the gym
I am capable of using the equipment
If I do not understand how to use something, I will be able to at some point
2. Have a Plan
It doesn’t have to be the plan that you stick with forever but write a plan. You can buy a tailored plan from a personal trainer or find information and plans online, which is what I do.
You may have to adapt your plans if people are using the machines or equipment that you would like to use, so prepare alternatives that you can do instead to work for the same muscle group.
3. Set small, attainable goals
I believe that setting small, attainable goals works, as each time you succeed in meeting your small goal, you will feel successful. The knock-on effect is that it then encourages you to strive for more. If you have a goal of running a 5k, set yourself a goal of running for 5 minutes, and the following week, add another 5 minutes. Slowly over time, it will add up, there’s no need for an “all or nothing” mindset, slow and steady wins the race.
4. Watch videos on form, equipment and machines
I have used YouTube as a tool to understand how to do certain exercises and use machines and equipment in the gym. You can search for ‘how to do a pistol squat’ for example and practice at home. You could even prop your phone on a table and film yourself doing the exercise and compare it with the tutorials.
The perfect soundtrack to a workout can change your attitude completely. I like to change what genres I listen to on different days or for different activities. You can find playlists titled ‘music for running’, ‘music for boxing’ and ‘music for lifting’ on apps like Spotify.
6. Dress for success
Organise what you are going to wear the night before or at least mentally plan it. Wear something that is comfortable and that you feel good in. You will feel hold yourself higher and walk taller.
7. Incorporate a motivating warm-up
It’s important to warm up, and I like to spend the first 10–15 minutes of my workout to prepare for the exercises ahead. I like to walk on the treadmill and use the time to listen to motivational words or a song that excites me.
8. Watch inspiring videos prior to going
I like to watch CrossFit Games videos before going to the gym. Observing these exceptional and hard-working athletes inspires me and makes my upcoming workout seem like a walk in the park in comparison.
9. Speak to yourself as you would speak to a friend
Perspective is everything. When you’re struggling to resolve an issue in the gym, think about how you would help a friend the problem. Would you knock them down as you would to yourself? No. You would speak to them with kindness, support and with encouragement. As Marie Forleo says, “everything is figureoutable”.
10. Remember that everyone who enters the gym is on their own path, so don’t compare yourself!
You will share a space with a variety of people in the gym. Some will be training for a bodybuilding competition and some will be training to improve their mental health. Some will be there to help with their athletic performance or to lose weight or even to just get out of the house. Each person has different goals, so why compare yourself and your workout to someone who isn’t you?