Okay, so I am no professional when it comes to working out, but I do know what has worked for me in terms of getting started and I would like to share that with you!
It’s intimidating to go the gym for the first time, and I know that for certain because I have been there. If you have read My Fitness Journey then you might know that I was very hesitant to purchase my first gym membership because I couldn’t stand the idea of working out around all the ‘gym bros’. I didn’t want to feel like the turd that doesn’t know anything, and surely doesn’t look like she ‘lifts’.
I wanted to go to the gym to work towards the body I wanted, but that meant I had to start going with the body I had. I wasn’t confident with what I had, and I was supposed to throw myself into a gym full of fit physiques!? I think this was one of my biggest hurdles to get past, and one that a lot of girls can relate to. It’s so easy to get lost in your own head worrying about what others might think of your body, your outfit, your workout routine, your form….whatever it might be. I know I did, I am an anxious person by nature and spend a lot of wasted energy worrying about things that haven’t happened, and most commonly never do. This was no exception. But the only way for me to get past this was to try and think differently, here are some things that worked for me:
Find some fitness inspirations – I watched a tonne of YouTube workout routine videos and found some girls that I really looked up to and actually made me want to go to the gym. At the time Nikki Blackketter had her ‘Follow Me To Fit’ series going on and I loved it. I felt super inspired watching her and also learned a lot of different exercises that I could do. Watching her showed me what lifting weights could achieve. Thinking to myself “one step closer to an amazing butt like Nikki” has pushed me through numerous workouts…It’s about giving your mind positive motivation instead of beating yourself down with worry or criticism. The great thing is that there are so many different fitness influencers and you are sure to find one that you can relate to and look up to – whether it be on Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, or a blog.
The one thing that I want to mention with regards to fitness inspirations is that there is a negative way to use social media. For the most part 90% of the time I find myself inspired by online fitness girls, but there is that 10% of the time that it just makes me feel worse about myself. I used to scroll through my Instagram feed numerous times a day and there were a lot of times that other girls’ bodies made me feel so far away from achieving my goals, an even further away from looking like them. When I noticed this happening more regularly I decided to delete the Instagram app off of my phone. I now only view Instagram on my desktop (yes, that’s a thing……I know I’m weird :P), that way I only ever see photos from the people I follow and there is no feed. I only follow a handful of fitness people that I find massively inspiring to me. I also stick to YouTube videos now as my main source of inspiration. I realize this isn’t a solution for everyone because some people are far more personally involved on Instagram than I (I don’t post much currently), but it is worth keeping in mind that there is a right and wrong way to use social media as an inspiration. Follow people that teach you something new, inspire you to think positively, and encourage self development. Some Instagram models are great for physical inspiration, but on a particularly rough day it can be more de-motivating than motivating if it’s just a picture without a message.
Don’t compare yourself to others – I know this one is so so SO much easier said than done. It’s hard. And to be honest I don’t personally think you can ever really turn this off completely, it’s human. But what you can do is make conscious effort to steer your thoughts in a better direction if you notice it happening and remind yourself to think differently.
There are plenty of people who have been working out for far longer than you and therefore they are further along in their fitness journey. You may have heard this said before, but I will say it again – you can’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20. You may come across people in the gym or online that you aspire to look like, and when you compare your body to theirs you feel disheartened. Remind yourself that they too started somewhere and you will get there one day at a time.
This also goes for the weight that you are lifting, don’t compare yourself to others. It takes time to build up strength and you will improve with each workout and feel your strength increase. Some people can lift some impressive weights, but I assure you it took them a long time to build up to that and I have no doubt you can too if you stick with it. Remind yourself of that!
Stop worrying about what others are thinking – Again, easier said than done. I am a worrier. SO GUILTY. But it is possible to teach yourself to worry less – something I am working on everyday. At the end of the day worrying is just a waste of time because it doesn’t contribute to your success and moving forward. If anything it just hinders you. If you spend all of your time worrying about other people judging you to the point where you quit or never start, you are the one losing. You are missing out on the chance for success and happiness. I have seen comments on Youtube where girls say things like “well how do I get over being THE chubbiest girl at the gym?” My advice in that situation or other similar ones is that you just have to have faith in yourself and do it. If you are in the gym you already one step closer to being where you want to be, so put your music on and focus on what you are doing and why you are there! Most serious gym-goers are too focused on their own workout to think about anything else. And even if someone is thinking something bad about you, so what? It is a poor representation of them and they aren’t worth a second of worry from you.
Plan your workout – Go into the gym with a plan, that way you will feel less awkward about walking around trying to think of what exercises you’d like to do. You will have everything you want to do organized and you will know when your workout is complete. I mentioned finding inspiration on Youtube in my first tip, and this will be a great source for workouts and video demonstrations of equipment that is common to most gyms. You can write down the workout on your phone and carry that around with you to refer back to. If you feel strange about looking at your phone in the gym, then you can plug your headphones in. That way no one will know the difference between you changing your music and looking at your notes.
When I went to the gym for the first time I decided to spend 10-15 minutes on the cardio machines because they overlooked the weight area. This way I had some time to stare at the layout of the gym and organize where I could do each workout. I laugh thinking back on it, but this made the process smooth for me and put my mind at ease. You gotta do what you you gotta do! If this is a possibility at your gym – then go for it! If not, you can also choose a workout machine that you are comfortable on and take some time to use that and scope out the gym around you.
Practice movements/exercises at home – After you have planned out your workout and have watched videos on how to perform each exercise, you can always practice them at home! That way you won’t exactly feel like you are trying it for the first time in front of everyone. And although it is hard to mimic some machines, practicing the general movement may help build your confidence. An example of this was when I taught my roommate to squat with a barbell on her shoulders. We initially tried in the gym, but she was so self conscious that she refused to actually get in the squat rack. So when we got home I suggested we place a broom handle on her shoulders and showed her the movement and what to pay attention to while in front of a mirror. You can watch an instructional video online and do the same, you just need to get creative with your tools.
Buy a new gym outfit that you LOVE – Now this may not work for everyone, but boy does it work for me! Nothing boosts my gym confidence more than an outfit that I think I look great in. This typically consists of my Lululemon Align pants, a pink tank, and matching shoes. When I feel good at the gym, I find I lift better because I feel like such a girl boss 😉 And if people are looking at me, a great outfit changes my thoughts from “they think I have bad form” to “I think they like my new shoes.” Although neither may be true, I am better off believing the latter.
Have a friend join you – Everything feels less awkward when you have someone else going through the exact same thing. Perhaps you already know someone who goes to the gym and can show you the ropes. If not you can plan a workout with a friend and have some fun doing it. This can make getting started a lot easier, and you will get more and more comfortable each time you go.
Find your mantra(s) – Find a statement or reason that really resonates with you and that you can remind yourself of often. An example of this is something like “I am going to look so amazing in my wedding dress in 1 year because of all this hard work”or “you have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life”. These are things you can repeat to yourself at the gym to push through a tough workout. It may sound cheesy, but having a distinct reason for what you are doing surely makes it worth the effort.
I have personally found all of these helpful in starting my fitness journey and still find many of them helpful years later. Some of them are quick fixes such as the new outfit, but other things like worrying less take constant effort. But if you stick with it, it all gets easier and soon enough you will be used to going to the gym and more confident in what you are doing. Seeing your progress will be so worth the effort it took to get over gym intimidation!
I hope to get some specific workout posts up in the near future, but this is all I have for right now! I hope you found it helpful!