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A Guide To Feeling Comfortable At The Gym

The gym can be a scary place to navigate. Walking into a room full of sweaty bodybuilders and Olympic track stars is nothing short of intimidating. Take it from someone who feels like all eyes are on them whenever they walk into a room, not because it’s a cliche movie moment, but because they’re anxious. But going to the gym is a good thing, even though it might not feel like it. It took me a while to work up the courage to be comfortable in the gym, so here are some tips to help you reach that point, too. 

Know Your Routine Before You Walk In

Coming to the gym prepared is something that I believe makes or breaks a workout. When I say prepared, I don’t mean having each second of your workout planned out; personally, I make a list in my phone of different exercises and then create a rough layout for my routine. Also, flowing from one exercise to another will not only make you appear confident, but you will start to feel confident, too. 

Not only does this planning in advance give me an idea of what I want to work on that day, but it also gives me the security of knowing what equipment I will need in advance. For example, if I am focusing on my arms that day, I know that I will need a set of weights. Thus I will grab that set before beginning my workout. This reduces time spent gathering equipment and, if you’re like me, it gives you a better excuse to stay in your area. 

Focus on You and Your Goals

One of the worst mistakes you can make at the gym is trying to match someone else. Workouts look different for everybody, so trying to keep up with the random girl doing pushups in the corner won’t help you. As I said before, go at your own pace and do your own workout. Can it be beneficial to work out with a friend? Of course! Do you have to do exactly what they do at the same pace and same level of intensity? Absolutely not. Do what is comfortable for you. Just don’t forget that a bit of soreness and tiredness is good, too. 

If it helps, bring headphones. I have found that listening to my own music helps block out the people around me. Then I can work on the exercises I had previously planned and not feel as worried about comparing myself to others. 

Don’t Be Afraid of Using Machines

A big misconception about going to the gym is that you have to be a pro at using larger machines and equipment. I’m here to tell you that is ridiculous. If you feel ready to move on from regular floor routines to machines but don’t know how to use them, don’t be afraid to ask a gym attendant. Attendants are there to help you and make sure you know how to properly use equipment, so don’t hesitate to ask. 

If you don’t want to ask an employee, ask someone nearby. People are more than likely to help you out rather than judge you; chances are they didn’t know how to use that equipment when they started either. No one comes out of the womb as a self-proclaimed gym junkie. If you really don’t want to ask anyone for help, read the instructions, which are typically listed on the side. You can also write down the name of the machine and google it at home. Whichever method you choose, don’t let your worries get the best of you. 

Everybody is Different

Arguably the most important thing to remember when heading to the gym is that no two people are the same. Every person in the gym will work out differently; some people will be consistent gym-goers, while others will have less experience. Either way, though it may feel like it, no one is at the gym to judge you. 

Sure, your face might get red or you might sound like you’re hyperventilating (definitely not speaking from experience). But what’s important is that you’re making an effort. The purpose of the gym is not to make you feel bad about yourself; it’s about keeping your body and mind healthy. Exercising is good for you, no matter what exercises you are doing or for how long. 

No matter how you feel about yourself, I am proud of you for going to work out. It can be nerve-wracking, but I know you can do it. While it’s not going to be easy to overcome internal insecurities, it’s just another one of life’s battles that you can overcome. The fact that you are going to the gym is enough, and you deserve to feel good about yourself.

Ally is a sophomore communication major at SUNY Geneseo. When not writing articles, Ally enjoys hanging out with friends, playing volleyball, and being, as her name implies, an "ally."
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