It makes no sense. You pay your membership, you have had your induction, you know you will benefit from your strength training. And yet, the gym floor seems intimidating, the good-looking people seem to know exactly what they’re doing and everyone seems to judge you. A Sport England survey found 75% of women say a fear of being judged put them off exercising altogether.
And that’s not right.
It’s only natural to feel a bit apprehensive when starting a new venture but you can do so much better than walking on a treadmill for an hour just because everything else seems intimidating. And you don’t even have to hire a personal trainer for it!
Here’s what helped me at the beginning of my gym journey:
- First and foremost – remember that no one cares. People you think are judging you are worried only about their own routines. Any experienced gym-goer knows only too well what it takes to begin so even if they ARE looking at you, it’s the look of respect rather than judgment.
- The gym etiquette is fairly basic: Restack your weights. Wipe the bench if you left a puddle of sweat on its surface. Scrolling through your entire Instagram feed while sitting on a machine is not a good idea. (I’ve seen people watching films on their tablet sitting on the Leg Press machine – not that I’m judging of course). You know, just be considerate, like a nice human being.
- If you feel more confident in a fancy gym outfit, wear one. A worn I AM WITH STUPID t-shirt will do, too. No one cares. I do dress up when I go to the gym but that’s because I hardly go anywhere else. I have also worked out in my pajamas top. No one cared in either case.
- Have a plan. If you don’t have a personalized program, look up, say, ‘full body gym routine’ online, write it down and take it to the gym floor. If you’re afraid of the machines, use free weights. Simple dumbbells are in many ways better than machines and they are easier to use.
- If you can, go to the gym when it’s less busy and you don’t have to fight for your bit of space under the Sun. You will be able to try different equipment without anyone breathing down your neck.
- And finally, just show up. Show up for short workouts – even if you do a 10 minutes session, it’s better than nothing. If you go to the gym often enough, you will feel more like a host rather than a guest there. And maybe, at some point, you will walk in thinking you actually belong there. Because you do. You already do.