When you walk into that shiny lobby, membership card in hand, the gym seems like an endless world of possibilities. But, once you’ve spread out your mat amidst the sea of spandex-clad people, however, the gym can be a major confidence-drainer. After all, who wants to look at themselves in a solid wall of mirrors at the most exhausted, sweaty part of their day? If you associate the gym with feelings of intimidation and insecurity, you’re not alone: A recent survey found that women experience "gymtimidation" twice as often as men. Now is the time to build your confidence! Check out these 5 things that are sabotaging your gym confidence, and how to fix them.
1. Lack of knowledge
We’ve all been there: You’re at the gym, surrounded by contraptions with more levers, knobs, and pulleys than you know what to do with. Add to that the fact that you might be surrounded by ripped gym-goers moving easily strutting from one machine to the next, and it’s enough to kill anyone’s confidence. The solution? Invest in a single training session. A trainer is a great resource to teach you how to use weight machines and equipment. They can help you adjust seat height, explain which machines work what muscles, and help you get an idea of how much weight you should be using. If you’re looking for a less costly solution, do some detective work. Post up on a treadmill facing the machines and watch. It’s amazing how much you can learn by observing others at the gym. (In a non-creepy way, of course). If you’re feeling bold, ask a gym regular to give you a quick tutorial.
A common reason people feel uneasy at the gym is because they're out of shape. When you take a long hiatus between visits (and exercise in general), it’s impossible to develop a routine and track your progress. It also makes you feel like a guest in your own gym. Confidence comes with feeling comfortable and familiar, so get consistent with your workout routine and visit your gym on a regular basis. When you move up to the next set of weights or run that extra mile, your spirit will soar as you grow stronger. You’ll feel even more assured when the person at the front desk starts to greet you by name.
3. Bad workout gear
People need to feel comfortable in their own skin. Fit people need to feel comfortable in their workout clothes. I’m not saying you need to spend a small fortune at fancy-pants stores, but it’s important to have a couple staples that fit you well and that you feel good in. Make sure you have the right kind of shoes for your workout activities, a supportive sports bra, and that you're wearing materials that wick sweat away from your body and dry quickly. It’s time to ditch those oversized cotton T-shirts and mesh shorts and wear attire that’s functional and makes you feel like a superstar.
4. Focusing on others
When you roll into the gym at 7pm it’s easy to lose yourself in the hoards of sweaty people. You’re forced to fight for machines, stake out territory in your Zumba class, or cram in next to the grunting guy in the weight room. The gym is a prime location for annoyance, or worse, intimidation. It’s hard to focus on your own routine and progress when you’re squeezed next to a woman who could give Heidi Klum a run for her money. The fix? Minimize your “roaming” time by developing a confident plan of attack. Take a few minutes to plan your workout before you arrive at the gym. Hunkering down and focusing on yourself is easier when you’re moving quickly from exercise to exercise and not improvising as you go. If your schedule allows, try hitting the gym during the “off-peak" hours. An emptier gym leads to a clearer mind.
5. Staying inside your comfort zone
The gym can be a totally foreign territory—particularly if you’re new to your club—and it’s tempting to stick to what you know. Don’t get hung up on your same old ab workout or treadmill routine because you’re too nervous to branch out into the unknown. What’s the first step? Try a new class at your gym. Most gyms have a wide variety of classes from cycling to kickboxing to hip hop. Classes are a great way to learn some new exercises that you can add to your individual routine. They're also a great way to meet people. Lots of people tend to take the same classes week to week. Before you know it, you might have a new gym buddy to work out with!
Looking for more gym advice? Check out these 7 Workout Habits You Should Drop Now!
Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, best-selling author, and entrepreneur. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants’ to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s Today Show, Extra, The Doctors and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.