Here are some real steps you can take to overcome gym intimidation. Short term mindset shifts for long term confidence. Gym intimidation is a real thing! From feeling a little like the new kid to full blown fear, I would guess everyone who has set foot in a gym has experience some version of it.
Like any new endeavor, it can be uncomfortable at first. But also like new endeavors that you repeat, it will become less new and less scary. Read on for some ideas to build your confidence and overcome your intimidation in the gym.
Just Do It – For Now
First things first: just do it. For now, one foot in front of the other. Do it even while intimidated. I promise it will become more comfortable. Until then, some more concrete action steps.
Have a Plan
Have a plan. That way you don’t have to think wonder or figure everything out while you’re in the gym. It’s ok if the first few trips are a lot of figuring out. After that, you’ll have your routine down. You can branch out from there when it’s time for a new routine. If you get confused or lost, go back to the trails you know.
Ask! If you can’t figure something out, ask! You won’t be the first or last person who had questions about particular machines. Believe me- people who have put hours and sweat effort into the gym understand more than anyone. They’re so nice to beginners because they have been there. Of course, if someone is in the middle of a set and avoiding eye contact, ask someone else and let them be. But if on the off chance you get someone who isn’t nice, remember it says more about them than you. If a staff member is short with you, find a new gym. Seriously. There are fantastically supportive gyms out there, like Big Tex Gym in Austin, Texas.
Learn Gym Etiquette
Read gym etiquette so you are in the know. It basically boils down to being considerate of others and paying attention to what you’re doing. You can read a full gym etiquette post here. There are always some things specific to your gym, which you’ll figure out. That usually has to do with layout, like if there’s a busy corner you’ll want to use but not monopolize. Things like that that you’ll figure out.
Remember It Is Worth It!
Remind yourself that it’s worth the short term discomfort! If you’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, you won’t want it less ina a year. In fact, in a year, you’ll wish you had started now. Eyes on the prize, doll. You can do this.
I guarantee you- other people don’t have it all figured out either. Everybody is learning together. Someone in worse shape, better shape, fatter, leaner, stretchier and tighter than you has done it before. You can do it too!
Focus On Yourself
Remember most people aren’t paying attention to you. They are either preoccupied with their session, their outfit, their gym crush, or the work meeting they’re trying not to think about. Or, best case scenario, they are focused on their training! Very few people are out there truly thinking much about strangers.
Remember Your Strengths
Remind yourself what you’re good at!! I bet you’re great at something! You could teach me a lot about your job and your skills. Just because you don’t live in the gym doesn’t mean anything about your value, or whether you belong at the gym. True story, I learned to snow ski when I was 27. It was horrible. I had to pep talk myself in the side of this snow mountain by reminding myself I AM good at something, dang it. Put me in the gym and let me go 😂
If you want the full blown account of my ski humiliation, read here.
I had a client many years ago who lamented that he had spent so many years just working and not exercising. He wanted to keep up with the strong strong 20-something male trainers. I had to remind my client that they were elite powerlifters, but he had a very fruitful career, thriving marriage and happy adult children. He was doing great at life! He was healthy too, and still working on it.
Try These Gym Intimidation Tips For Yourself
That’s the list! Those are my best tips. Remember that you belong in the gym too, that you do have skills in life, and make yourself a plan and follow it.
Message me if I missed anything. I love hearing from people who have figured out how to overcome discomfort!
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.