You’re at the gym on the chest press machine and the bodybuilder across the room is staring at you as he grunts his way through his set of bicep curls. And he’s not the only one staring—everyone else seems to be wondering what on earth you’re doing. Are you doing this exercise all wrong? What are you doing at the gym, anyway? I don’t belong!, you tell yourself.
This is how most people would describe an intimidating gym experience, but I’m here to tell you some really good news: It doesn’t have to be this way. You can increase your gym confidence and deal with everything that intimidates you with these five smart strategies.
1. Get Smart
The first thing that intimidates people at the gym is being seen doing an exercise incorrectly. There’s an easy solution to that. Simply educate yourself on the basic exercises that you would like to know and go from there. This can be done by watching videos online or asking a personal trainer. By knowing what you’re doing, you instantly will feel more comfortable in the gym.
2. Have a Plan
Wandering around the gym aimlessly can make you feel like you don’t belong. Before you even enter the gym, come up with a game plan. Figure out what exercises you’d like to do and in what order. This way, you go from exercise to exercise without any wasted time and you’ll have your plan to focus on, not what everyone else is doing.
3. Go with a Friend
As the old saying goes, there’s power in numbers. If you’re really intimidated about going to the gym by yourself, bring a friend. Ideally, this friend knows more about fitness than you and can show you the ropes. It’s always nice to ask what you think is an embarrassing question to a friend as opposed to a complete stranger.
4. Take a Tour
When you sign up for a gym, the gym employees should always take you on a tour and show you some of the machines and equipment that they feature. If not, go up to someone who works at the gym and ask if they could show you how to do a few exercises. After all, it’s their job to offer their know-how and make you feel more comfortable. They know if you’re more comfortable, you’ll be more likely to go and keep paying your membership.
5. Create Your Own Little World
To further distract yourself from what others are thinking, create your own little world by putting in headphones and listening to music. Not only will this turn off the outside world, it will also pump you up and power you through your workout. Focus on yourself and your own workout and you’ll be amazed at how much better your workout is.
The most important thing to remember is to just be more confident in what you’re doing while you’re in the gym. Believe it or not, other people in the gym aren’t staring at you and wondering what you’re doing—it’s all in your head. By having more confidence in your workout routine, you’ll feel much less intimidated and be much more likely to get to the gym day after day.
Brian Maher is a personal trainer in Center City Philadelphia who specializes in weight loss and nutritional counseling. He is the owner of Philly Personal Training, a company offering convenient in-home personal training packages to busy individuals looking to improve their fitness levels. Read all of Brian’s posts for Be Well Philly here.