Going to a gym full of crazy contraptions and overly muscular people can be an overwhelming experience. The pressure of not knowing what you are doing and being surrounded by muscle heads, has been dubbed “Gymtimidation”. Many people avoid the gym entirely to avoid being gymtimidated. So what can you do to avoid feeling like prey in a jungle full of strange equipment and leering lifters?
1. Find the right gym
Every gym has it’s own vibe, some are notorious for attracting bulked up bros and fierce fit women. Gyms create a sense of community, whether you are a social butterfly or a lone wolf, the general attitude of the gym should be investigated. Reading reviews posted online will also give you incredible insight into the inner workings of a gym. Be sure to check the gym out either during the most popular hours or at least the time you personally set aside to exercise, get an idea for how busy this place can get.
2. Find a workout partner
Exercising with a friend will both alleviate much of the social anxiety caused by gymtimidation, and help keep you motivated and hold you accountable. A workout partner is there to spot you, and should alert you if they see improper form. If they are exercise amateurs be sure to take their advice with a grain of salt, don’t let them push you further than your body can handle.
3. Come prepared
Much gym anxiety derives from lacking the basic knowledge of how to exercise. You may spend a fair amount of time wandering around the gym trying to figure out what to do. Before you go to the gym, find a workout routine that works for you, and review the movements. You can find countless youtube tutorials by professional trainers explaining nearly every movement you can think of. Never feel insecure if you cannot lift heavy weights, people at the gym are likely to notice someone who is doing something that can potentially harm them. If you are confident in your ability to perform a work out, show up with a sense of purpose, and own the workout.
4. Hire a trainer
Hiring a personal trainer is an incredibly effective way to build the basic tools you need in the gym. Trainers not only teach you how to safely perform movements, but can familiarize you with the gyms community. Someone who spends nearly every waking minute in a gym understands the social dynamics of the place, and can introduce you to friendly regulars. Trainers are also professional motivators, they know how to set you on the right path for success. Their professional reputation is built by the success of their clients so they are not afraid to hold you accountable for slacking.
5. Avoid the locker rooms
Show up ready to rock and roll, you can avoid the barrage of naked strangers by wearing your workout clothes to the gym. Starting your workout feeling awkward and anxious after an undesirable public peep show is no way to overcome gymtimidation.
6. Put things into perspective
First realize, no one actually cares. Everyone in the gym is focused on themselves. Muscle heads are the result of self obsession. When you see people that are so buff their physique actually hinders functional fitness, just know they are only here to watch one person, themselves in the mirror. Lastly, remember everyone has to start somewhere. Just showing up will generate a sufficient amount of respect.