I used to be so intimidated by the gym… and TERRIFIED by the weights section. I thought I was never going to step foot in that area. Like ever. But of course, if you keep up with me on my other platforms (especially Instagram), you know that I love weight lifting now. So wondering how the heck I made that switch? Let’s chat.
#1. Get Comfortable First
If you’re a fitness newbie or just feeling out of shape from some time off, my first piece of advice is to jump back into fitness in an area that you feel most comfortable. For a lot of people, this means working out in your own home!
When I first started working out, this is exactly what I did. And then continued to do for a couple years as I fell off and back on the fitness bandwagon (like over and over, lol). At that time, I knew NOTHING about fitness. So testing out workouts in the comfort of my parent’s basement was crucial for me in order to build confidence and stamina at the same time.
Trying to workout again after some time off is already intimidating enough. If the thought of doing that in a public gym freaks you out, then don’t do it! There’s no point in overwhelming yourself all at once- it’s not a race.
If you feel like you can’t get as good of a sweat in at home as you can at the gym, think again! There are so many awesome exercises you can do with no equipment or very minimal equipment. If you want some help in that area, check out my 8 Week At Home Health & Fitness Guide- The Healthy Lifestyle Project at Home. It has 8 weeks of killer workouts already set up for you. All you need is a set of dumbbells!
#2. Slow & Steady
Again, fitness should not be a race. The goal is to get you moving in some way forever, not for four days. So start at a level of fitness that you can actually perform!
If that means you have to stop every 60 seconds to catch your breath (no shame, this was me!!!), then do it. If that means only working out for 15-20 minutes for the first few weeks, then do that too! If you stay dedicated to finishing those 15-20 minutes, I promise that it will get easier every day. Then, you can start to gradually increase the length of your workout!
Once you can get through a 30-40 minute workout no problem, you’ll be feeling so much more confident in yourself and taking that workout to a public place won’t feel as scary anymore!
#3. Keep It Basic
Now that your endurance has improved and you’re ready to step foot into the gym, I strongly recommend keeping it basic in the beginning. Of course, there’s tons of great equipment to add variety and excitement to your weekly workout split, but we’ll get there eventually.
Start out by doing the exact same workouts that you were doing at home. You’re a pro at these workouts by now. You’re confident doing them alone in your own home. Right? So let’s tackle one thing at a time and first work on building that same kind of confidence in the gym. Which leads me to tip #4…
#4. Stay in Your Lane
Let’s face it, if you’re already worried that other people are going to be judging you at the gym, paying attention to everyone else isn’t going to make you feel any better.
Try your hardest to focus on yourself and not get distracted by other people. Because chances are, if you’re staring at them to make sure they’re not staring at you… they’re going to feel you staring at them, and end up staring at you!!! Lol. But for real.
So turn on your favorite pump up music playlist and just stay in the zone! Watch yourself in the mirror, pay attention to your form, think about what you’re going to eat for dinner after you smash out this session- whatever you gotta do.
#5. Plan It Out
Once you’re ready to try something new and venture into the equipment section, don’t try to wing it! Trust me, I’ve been there. You’re going to end up walking up to the equipment, freezing, and walking away.
Make sure you pull together a workout plan before you even get to the gym. Have all of the exercises, sets, reps and types of equipment listed out for you. If you need some help in this area, check out my original 8 Week Health and Fitness Guide, The Healthy Lifestyle Project (a gym based program), or test out my brand new Weekly Workout Series!
Having a plan will help calm down some of that stress you’re inevitably going to feel when trying equipment out for the first time. And on that same note…
#6. Educate Yourself
Make sure to actually watch videos of how to do each exercise with the exact type of equipment you’ll be using! If you’re using my guides, I have video clips of every single exercise included. If you’re not, then Google that specific exercise ahead of time.
Also, don’t be afraid to pull up that video if you need a reminder while you’re in the gym. I used to do this all the time (and sometimes still do because my memory is questionable at best). Nobody will know- they’ll just think you’re texting or changing your music!
This is especially important so that you can try to get your form down. Incorrect form will just cause injury. Start with low weights, focus on your form, and increase your weights when you’re actually ready!
#7. Mentally Prepare Yourself for a Screw Up
I’ll break the news for you now: you’re going to have a screw up in the gym.
Every single person has made a mistake in some way or another when trying out new equipment or exercises at the gym. I’ve done this SO many times. Like wiping out from a box jump squat, tucking & rolling out of the linear leg press…. (if you’re a podcast listener, you know exactly what I’m talking about hahaha YIKES).
So while yes, there are a lot of things you can do to come prepared and reduce the chance of a mess up, it’s still going to happen at some point. So instead of getting worked up over it when it happens, just get real and tell yourself it’s going to happen and it’s literally NO. BIG. DEAL. when it does. Feel a little embarrassed? That’s okay, I did too. But did it kill me? Nope. And it won’t kill you either.
What’s important is that you freakin’ built up the courage to TRY it in the first place! And if you ask me, that’s a win, not a screw up.
Are you feeling more prepared to kick gym anxiety to the curb? Let me know which tip you think is going to help you the most!
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