How To Permanently Overcome Gym Intimidation
Do you find the gym intimidating?
If so, don’t worry – you’re certainly not alone…
Yup, millions of men and women avoid going to the gym because of varying degrees of gym intimidation.
To the uninitiated, the gym can seem like a pretty forbidding place – full of fit narcissists who aren’t going to be very welcoming of anyone that doesn’t meet their exacting standards.
In fact, this was how I initially felt when I first decided I wanted to go to the gym and start getting in shape.
It was during college, I had never worked out before (save a few pushups and sit-ups at home), and the whole concept seemed very foreign to me.
After being persuaded by some friends to give it a try, I plucked up the courage, and strolled over to the campus gym.
When I got there, it was pretty much as I expected: full of people who were in shape and who all seemed to know exactly what they were doing!
And you know what I did?
I turned my ass around and went right back to my dorm room…
It all seemed like too much, too unfamiliar – and, to be honest, far too intimidating for someone who couldn’t fathom working out publicly without embarrassing myself.
Yes, after some time I got over this apprehension, and ultimately grew to love working out, but I still remember the feeling well, and how it seemed like the whole thing just wasn’t for me.
To hopefully spare you this same experience – or to help you along if your gym fear is currently holding you back – I wrote this article to go over some of the most effective ways I’ve found to overcome gym intimidation.
Gym Intimidation Tip #1: You’re Probably Not Being Judged
One of the biggest causes of gym intimidation is the fear of being judged.
But let me say, after working out at many, many gyms over the years, that I think this fear is largely unfounded.
People just aren’t very judging of others at the gym; instead, they spend that energy judging themselves.
Yup, that big guy over in the squat rack isn’t looking at you thinking that you’re puny…
Nope, he’s too focused on himself to think very much, if at all, about you.
The bottom line is that you are far more invisible at the gym than you might think.
So don’t be afraid to go there and do your thing – even if you’re new. All eyes aren’t mockingly watching you, I promise.
Gym Intimidation Tip #2: The Regulars Are Nicer Than They Look
In fact, it goes further than most gym goers not being very judgmental of others…
On the contrary, I’ve found that most ‘gym rats’ are generally willing to lend a hand and help a newbie out.
Yup, despite their lunkish appearance, many of these guys are actually pretty friendly, and enjoy teaching others about lifting almost as much they they enjoy lifting!
You’ll be respected for showing up, asking appropriate questions, and demonstrating a willingness to learn.
And it won’t be long before you feel right at home.
Gym Intimidation Tip #3: Go In With A Plan
Without a clear plan of attack, the gym can seem pretty overwhelming.
All of these machines, dumbbells, and barbells – where do you even start?
To avoid this anxiety, I would recommend always going to the gym knowing what you plan to do for that workout.
This means reading up beforehand, watching videos online, and knowing the exercises that you plan to do that day.
The more detailed your plan, the better, since you’ll be much less likely to experience any indecision once you get there.
You’ll just snap into action, go through your plan, and be done before you know it.
Gym Intimidation Tip #4: Listen To Music
I’ve talked about the importance of music in the gym before, but it deserves another mention here.
When you put on motivating music, you kind of enter your own little world.
This makes it easier to tune everything else out – including the other people or elements of the gym that you may find intimidating – and just focus on the task at hand.
In fact, I guarantee that if you walk in with your headphones on and music blaring, that you’ll feel a lot more comfortable right away.
Gym Intimidation Tip #5: Work Out With A Trainer
Personal trainers aren’t for everyone, but if you’re finding yourself intimidated by the prospect of going to the gym, then a trainer might be just what you need to start building the habit.
They’ll be there to guide you, show you how everything works, and motivate you, so that you’ll feel a lot less out of place.
And even though they can be expensive, if you work with one for even a couple of months, the investment can be well worth it in the long-run.
Gym Intimidation Tip #6: Work Out With A Friend
If you don’t want to hire a trainer, or don’t have the budget for one, then consider working out with a friend instead.
They’ll provide that sense of camaraderie that will make the gym feel a lot less intimidating and more welcoming.
Even better if you go with a friend that is already working out regularly.
It’ll immediately seem less daunting, since they’ll be able to show you the ropes and teach you how to do the exercises properly.
Plus, it definitely helps to have a spot when you need one…
Gym Intimidation Tip #7: Join A Class
Not everyone likes to exercise alone.
If the thought of walking into the weight section of the gym by yourself and grinding out your workout leaves you on edge, then a group exercise class might be more up your alley.
With a group class, you’ll have an instructor there to guide you the entire time, as well as other people working out along with you.
Sometimes it’s nice to know that you have people in your corner, and group classes provide just that.
Gym Intimidation Tip #8: Go In the Morning
There isn’t one perfect time to work out.
Everyone likes to exercise at different times, and a lot of this obviously depends on your schedule.
That said, if you find the gym intimidating, then you may want to try to go at off-peak times, when it is a lot less crowded.
The morning is perfect for this. Not only is it typically less crowded than right after work or in the evenings, but the morning crowd tends to be less cliquey and more focused on just getting their workouts done.
This can make the whole experience a lot less daunting, since there won’t be that same pressure to fit into a more established gym social scene.
Gym Intimidation Tip #9: Join A Different Gym
Now sometimes you can overcome your gym intimidation by following the suggestions that we’ve already been over.
However, in certain cases, it may just be that the gym you’re a member of isn’t the right gym for you.
For example, if you’re a member of a gym that is comprised mostly of hardcore powerlifters, screaming and slamming heavy weights around, then you might find that the environment just doesn’t feel right for you.
And that’s perfectly fine; not every gym will be a good fit.
If this is the case, I would suggest looking for a different gym that better matches the type of ‘vibe’ you’re after.
You may find that simply switching gyms is all it takes to make the whole experience of working out a lot more pleasant and less intimidating.
Gym Intimidation Tip #10: Exercise At Home
If all else fails, and you are still finding yourself agonizing over going to the gym, then this is the final option you should consider.
You see, at the end of the day, some people are simply more suited to working out at home than going to the gym.
And if you ultimately determine that you fit into that category, then there is no need to fight it.
After all, there are plenty of home-based exercise options that you can do instead of working out at a gym.
So cancel that gym membership and start working out from the comfort of your own home.
In the end, it’s much better to have a workout routine that you do at home consistently, rather than a gym membership that you never use and simply burns a hole in your wallet each month.