One of the main reasons people give for not going to the gym is lack of time. Another equally important yet much lesser talked about explanation? You simply don’t feel comfortable in the often intimidating gym environment. As someone who has spent the better part of his life in fitness clubs as a member, trainer, class instructor and gym owner, I completely understand. If you’re someone who wants to exercise at the gym but just doesn’t feel comfortable working out there yet, here are four tips to help boost your confidence and feel comfortable at the gym:
1. WEAR CLOTHES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL GREAT
Ever notice how many people at the gym wear the same outfit over and over again? That could be because they really like the way it makes them look. Go shopping and invest in a few outfits that you absolutely love and that you think you look great in, clothes that accentuate what you feel good about. This can help your confidence exponentially.
2. ASK FOR HELP
Another reason you may feel self-conscious at the gym is that you’re not sure how to do certain exercises or use certain pieces of equipment. You really want to do that ab exercise with the medicine ball, try that leg press machine, or run on that new treadmill, but you don’t want to embarrass yourself by doing anything incorrectly and drawing attention to yourself. So you might end up not doing any of them at all.
Realize that everyone was a beginner at one point and that they all had someone teach them what to do. So ask for help, whether it’s working out with a fit friend you trust or paying for a session or two with a personal trainer. You’ll be amazed how great you will feel by overcoming your fears and finally doing what you thought you couldn’t. You can also start seeing results from challenging your body in a whole new way.
3. REALIZE EVERYONE IS SELF-CONSCIOUS
I have worked with celebrities, professional athletes, politicians, models and top CEOs and can tell you one absolute, unequivocal truth: Everyone is self-conscious. Everyone. No matter how perfect or confident they may seem to be, even the seemingly fit and beautiful have what they perceive to be their flaws. So if you think you’re the only one who doesn’t feel 100% confident at the gym, think again. You’re in very good company.
4. DO IT FOR YOU
Finally and most importantly, go to the gym for you. Make it your time to focus on yourself. Go to feel good in the moment, or maybe to help release some stress. Go to feel better about yourself in the future, making positive changes for you. Look inward by putting on your virtual blinders and blocking out everything around you that doesn’t enhance your experience. The more you focus on you and the less attention you pay to what’s going on around you, the more comfortable you will be.
The gym can and should be a positive place, somewhere you look forward to going. Take control of the experience by implementing these tips and you can make it a fun, enjoyable, life-long habit.
By Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, CISSN
Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, CISSN is an internationally-recognized exercise physiologist, certified sports nutritionist, freelance writer, and regular contributor to Vega’s Expert Panel.
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