It can be easy to forget that confidence in the gym doesn’t necessarily come from what weight you can lift or how defined your abs are- confidence can simply come from comfort and familiarity in the gym you go to. It’s important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere; there’s always a ‘first time’ for everything. At some point, we have all, regardless of gender, been a new person at the gym, trying a daunting piece of equipment for the first time.
Even as an avid gym-goer, the moment I step into a new gym with an unfamiliar set-up, I feel lost and I freak out. However, the more times I go to or try something, the more familiar it becomes, and with greater familiarity comes greater confidence.
Particularly as a woman, it can be daunting going into certain areas of the gym, or even going to the gym full-stop, due to fear of looking inexperienced or of being judged. The weights section of a gym is almost always dominated by men and so I understand that a lot of females feel out of place. But once you step out of your comfort zone and face it, it just becomes any other part of the gym. It’s the same with going to the gym alone; the first time you do it you can build up so much anxiety about training, but after a while you forget what it’s like to train with someone else.
Here are some tips I’d give to anyone trying to build confidence in the gym:
1) The day you start, ask a member of staff to take you round and show you where everything is. Ask questions to put you at ease- no question is a silly question.
2) Go to the gym at quieter times in the day. I avoid the gym any time after 5pm because it gets crowded and there’s less equipment to use. I like going during off-peak times if I want to experiment with new exercises and machines.
3) Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help or advice at the gym. Many times, I’ve asked people to check my form when lifting heavy weights to make sure I’m not causing my body any damage. The first time you ask can be humiliating but once you realize everyone in the gym is there for more or less the same reason, to improve in some way or another, mentally or physically, you’ve broken down another barrier.
4) Invest in some gym clothes that make you feel confident to train in. Have no shame in how you look; the more comfortable you feel, the more confident you will be! I remember the first time I ever wore a sports bra to the gym- I worried about showing too much of my stomach. AT A GYM!? Again, once I broke down that barrier and realized I deserved to embrace what I’d worked hard at the gym for, I lost all care for hiding it. When I’m on my period I like to wear something looser that covers my body a little more to feel more comfortable. It’s all about how YOU feel.
5) I follow a few fitness accounts on Instagram where people post videos of gym equipment and how to use it correctly. Consult their videos in the gym for inspiration and clarification.
6) While I don’t usually listen to tunes at the gym because I like to be aware of my surroundings, I’d recommend putting in headphones and listening to upbeat music that makes you comfortable as a way to distract yourself from worrying about what other people think. It puts you in your own little zone and you just become oblivious to everyone else.
Photo Credit: Yaz Bugel