Everyone wants to be able to go to the gym, so why doesn’t everyone go? Memberships are easy to come by, and typically a membership counselor at a big gym will grant newcomers the ability to try the floor out for free. Clothing restrictions are usually lax, so people don’t aren’t required to shell out a couple hundred dollars on stretchy crops, gym shorts, or dry-fit shirts. Most people have a gym in their town, making a commute pretty short and cheap on gas. So, again you might ask, what’s the problem?
It’s simple, actually, and its a problem that plagues the population in many aspects both socially and internally; confidence.
Professionals and gym rats know this as “gym confidence”, and many people think you either have it or don’t. That statement couldn’t be more incorrect.
From the time we are born, we learn. We learn how to speak, read, walk, run, socialize, and we also learn how to be confident. It isn’t something that comes naturally, it must be taught and learned. Some of us take to the lessons more readily than others, and this is what separates a “naturally” confident person from someone suffering with a lack thereof.
If gym confidence, and confidence in general, is something learned then how do we learn it? At this point in our lives, who teaches something like that? Well, you learn it through experience, and the teacher is you.
Though gaining confidence is really something up to you to learn, here are some tips for how to begin:
- Don’t wear uncomfortable clothes. A lot of people are functioning under the impression that to work out, you need to wear standard workout apparel. Some of these “accepted” items of clothing are less than comfortable, both physically and mentally. Ladies; if you don’t feel comfortable in tight crop pants, wear gym shorts. Men; if you don’t feel comfortable in armless muscle shirts, wear regular t-shirts. The same goes opposite too. If you feel comfortable in dri-fit pants or sleeveless shirts, WEAR THEM! You might come upon articles written by gym rats venting about how “irritating” it is to see a newbie wearing top-level gym attire. Who cares? They have their opinions based on the fact that they pay for their gym membership and they shouldn’t have to be irritated by newbies. Your membership isn’t free, you pay too and your opinion also counts. I’m not telling you to wear two-sizes two small pants that come half-way down your butt cheeks every time you squat, but if you want to wear nice gym clothes, do it.
- Bring a friend. Its well known that its easier to stand tall if you’re not alone. Its a great way not only to bond with a friend or spouse, but its also beneficial to both of your well-beings. You can be responsible for helping someone else become comfortable in a gym setting while they help you become more comfortable in turn. A gym partner is also great to have because you will likely need a spotter at some point, a motivational partner, or someone to keep an eye on your form so you don’t develop bad habits. Get on the accountability train while becoming a more gym-confident person!
- Hire a personal trainer for a few sessions. Maybe you hadn’t thought of hiring a trainer before. I mean, maybe you have a program all set out and you’ve been wanting to try it out on your own. However, if you suffer from gym anxiety and you either don’t have a friend to bring or are too embarrasses to welcome a friend into your journey, a trainer can be incredibly beneficial. All the good trainers out there, of which there are many, already have compassion for their clients. Its kind of something that comes along with the desire for this job. We’re also taught by our certification courses how to assist our clients in gaining confidence. You might not want to sign up with a full contract, but if you’re convincing enough, you can get week-to-week sessions. Just don’t let them bully you into thinking you can’t have a session or two without a more lengthy dedication. Also remember that a good trainer will work your current program into the way they train you if you request it.
- Take a class. Here is another way that the establishment itself can assist you with becoming a confident gym-goer. If you’re a woman with fat-loss goals but you’re a beginner and don’t have much endurance, I recommend a dance-based class. Most of the people in this class will be people with similar goals to yours, and they’ll also probably be shy novices. If you’re a man looking for weight loss or a way to muscle growth/sculpting, I recommend a HIIT class. This stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and can be a bit intimidating, but almost everyone in this class will be just as sweaty and out of breath as you are. Plus, most HIIT classes are short, sweet, and to the point so you can test your boundaries without being stuck in an hour-long class.
- GO! Going to the gym, getting your feet wet, and giving your hardest attempt is my best advice to anyone looking to grow their gym-confidence. In an interview with IDEA, David Conroy, PhD, says, “People avoid situations where they think they might fail”. This hits the nail on the head. You don’t go because you’re afraid of looking silly and failing to be professional in a gym full of what you assume are seasoned gym-goers. The best way to get rid of fear is to become insensitive to it. There is a technique in psychology called adaptation, in which you locate the fear and concentrate on it until you realize that nothing bad is really going to happen. You build up, tearing your fears down and experiencing them until they no longer bother you. This is similar to what your muscles and body will go through when you start working out; tearing and building. Adapting. Go to the gym, feel the discomfort, but don’t let it stop you. Make it your goal to come back every time prepared to feel the fear. It WILL go away, I know because I did this for myself. I now have confidence in any gym I go into, because I made myself comfortable. I made it my home.
I hope this list has helped you! If you have any questions about any of the tips I gave, or questions about how to apply them to real life, leave a comment! Your goals are only out of reach if your arm isn’t stretched far enough.
Williams-Evans, Kymberly. “Maximizing Motivation, Minimizing Fear”. Ideafit.com. <http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/maximizing-motivation-minimizing-fear-0>