Starting at the gym can be intimidating when you walk in and feel like everybody is looking at you. It’s even more intimidating when all the people you think are staring are fit, in shape, lean, have huge muscles, look super mean and scary, or whatever other things you might be thinking about them. Trust me, I was there. You can read about my weight loss journey here and here.
Here are some tips to get you through your gym fears and anxiety!
1. Wear a hat
This is probably my best tool when I’m in the gym. There are days I don’t want to be there and on those days I put on a baseball cap and get shit done.
When I first started going to the gym, I’d wear my hat to the gym because it gave me tunnel vision, in a way. It blocked most people from my view, so all I saw was the machine I was using or the dumbbells/barbell I was lifting. Something about only seeing the tools I was using kept me focussed on my workout/lift and I didn’t even notice anybody around me.
Eventually as I became more comfortable in the gym, I would only wear my hat when I was doing exercises I was uncomfortable with like Romanian deadlifts, hip thrusts, cable rope pull-throughs, and single-leg Romanian deadlifts. I pretty much wore the hat if I was going to do anything that was a booty movement or thrusting where I thought people would look at my butt, or think I was an idiot.
2. Keep your workout simple
Grab a pair of dumbbells and go to the back of the gym or a corner that’s low traffic. That way you can feel like nobody is looking at you and you can do plenty of exercises with a pair of dumbbells for upper or lower body.
It usually made me feel more focusses and confident if I stuck to a corner of the gym with dumbbells and did a ton of exercises. Eventually, I would move to the cables and stay there after my dumbbell exercises.
Pretty much I would look for the least used areas in the gym and I would stick to those areas.
3. Start slow
Don’t worry about going to the gym 5-7 days a week! If you rarely workout, or never worked out before, you need to start slow and have realistic goals. If you try to go to the gym 5-7 days a week, you might be able to keep up with it for a week or two and then you’ll probably get burnt out.
A better option is to set a goal to workout 2-3 times a week. You could workout for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 1 hour! Regardless, you don’t have to think that you have to workout for 1 hour 5-7 days a week.
When I first started working out, I only worked out 3 days a week for 30 minutes. Eventually I added a fourth workout day, and after that I made my workouts 45 minutes and then an hour long.
You get the point, the best approach is to start slow. You’ll maintain the habit of going to the gym if you start slow and incorporate the gym into your life.
4. Know when to avoid the gym
Hear me out, maybe 5-7pm is the perfect time to workout for you. But I’m begging and warning you – that is the busiest time at the gym and you should avoid it. It’s always stupidly crowded because everybody goes to the gym right after work.
If you can, you should avoid the gym at those hours because chances are, you’ll feel more uncomfortable with all those people around. Plus, you’ll have to work around people and it could be more annoying if you’re new to the gym.
After going to the gym for years, I still avoid the gym between 5-6pm. I hate dealing with a crowded gym and sometimes I feel more distracted with so many people in the gym. When there are tons of people in the gym I’m more focussed on making sure the next machine/cable/dumbbells I’m going to use next are free so I don’t have to adjust my workout. I applaud the people who go to the gym during those prime hours to workout – it’s just not for me.
All together in the end
You need to just slowly get into the groove of things so you can make the gym a habit and not a chore. You’ll find your favorite clothes that make you feel comfortable in the gym, but find a hat that fits your head nicely and thank me later! Lastly, have your gym plan and it’ll be smooth sailing since you’ll know what to do while you’re there.