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Anjali Vittal lifting
Anjali Vittal lifting
Photo by @anjalilifts on Instagram

5 Tips For Getting Comfortable at the Gym as a Woman

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Starting your fitness journey as a woman can be overwhelming, stressful, and hard to get comfortable with. The gym can appear to be a scary place when you first start going, especially when you feel like everyone may be judging you.

When I first started my fitness journey, I felt out of place and very new. I felt like everyone was watching me and judging me, even though that wasn’t true. Learning what made me feel comfortable and confident at the gym, though, stopped these thoughts from hindering my success in the gym. Now, not only do I feel more comfortable going to the gym and maintaining consistency, but I have grown a love for my fitness journey. Here are a few tips and reminders that helped me stay consistent, and gain comfort and confidence at the gym.

prep Work

Prep work can look different for everyone. For me, having an organized plan and proper workout split made me feel better about going to the gym and finishing my workout. A workout split is a plan that tells you what exercises you’re doing that day. In my workout splits I typically run weekly, meaning every Monday I have the same workout, every Tuesday I have the same workout, and so on. When I have a plan in front of me, I am focused on myself more than I am on others around me. I focus on the workout I’m doing, the number of sets and reps I’m completing, and what exercise is coming next. Once boredom hits, I tend to switch around the workout split and maybe incorporate new exercises to keep things new and exciting.

When you first start going to the gym, though, even making a workout split can seem overwhelming. I found that searching on Tik Tok for fitness influencers that post their splits helped me. If I saw an exercise that I felt decently confident performing, I practiced form on my own time without weights and added it to my split.

Searching for exercises and the correct form can help a lot with feeling comfortable at the gym. With prep work not only can you start practicing form, but you learn which equipment to use, making it easier to navigate the gym overall. It is a process of trial and error, but prep work can help you dip your toes in the water.

Wearing clothes I felt comfortable in

Feeling good about yourself at the gym is something I encourage everyone to practice. For women, it is hard sometimes to wear certain clothes or get ready for the gym without feeling like others will stare at you or judge you. It is important to remember that other people don’t matter! Wear whatever you feel comfortable and confident in. I found that when I wear clothes I feel comfortable working out in, my workout is significantly better.

For example, when I first started going to the gym, I always wore leggings – almost exclusively. Two years later, I am never wearing leggings when I lift, only shorts. I found that leggings made me feel more uncomfortable when I worked out and switching to shorts helped me gain comfort and confidence. Another example, though very specific, I find that wearing a hat has helped me block others out at the gym. This small accessory helps keep me in the zone and not worry about others around me. I found that my workouts were better and much more efficient when I wore my hat to keep me centered and focused.

You are not required by any means to wear workout clothes or sets that are trendy or very expensive, either. When people first start going to the gym, they often think they have to get trendy workout sets that break the bank. This is not true. As long as the clothes you are wearing are safe to work out in, wear them!

Anjali Vittal in the gym
Photo by @anjalilifts on Instagram
Make a Playlist

Music that makes you feel good and happy can help you stay focused on yourself at the gym. Make a playlist dedicated to the gym, music that makes you feel strong, motivated, and excited to work out. Sometimes I will start listening to my playlist before even getting to the gym to get me more excited and prepared to lift. I consider this such an important tip when starting out at the gym because the music that makes you feel good can help ease the stress of the gym. You can block out the noise around you, focusing on your lift rather than everyone else.

figuring out if I enjoyed going alone or with a friend

I tested both of these when I started going to the gym. My fitness journey started with me and my friend going together four times a week. This was a good transition to this new environment, having a friend to help ease the stress. Soon enough, on days she couldn’t go, I felt comfortable going to the gym by myself regardless. Eventually, I learned that I felt most productive and in the zone when I worked out alone.

My tip is to try both of these options!

Try going with a friend and trying out the equipment or figure out a form when you first start. It helps a lot if you find a friend that has been to the gym before and can help you get started. I’ve done this for a number of people, helping them out for the first week or two to help them get used to their workouts and the environment.

Once you’ve tested going with a buddy, try going alone! This can be very overwhelming or scary at first, but even going alone once can help you figure out which you prefer and which keeps you more in the zone. If you feel more comfortable going to the gym with a friend after you try both, find a gym partner; if you feel more comfortable going alone, find a time at the gym when the number of people doesn’t overwhelm you. Just like everything else at the gym, finding your ideal gym session is a process of trial and error.

reminding myself of two key things:

The first is that everyone started somewhere. Everyone you see at the gym experienced the same things you are, especially other women. Many of those women also had to cope with the fear of being judged, discomfort, and finding their own confidence to get to the point they are at now. Use this as motivation! When I started, I did not have great form or a perfect experience, and that is normal and typical for everyone you see at the gym. Reminding yourself that everyone had to have started somewhere can give you comfort. Everyone working out had their first day going to the gym too.

The second is: if you’re not looking at other people, they are not looking at you. You’ll find when you go to the gym, you often feel like other people are judging you. Once you start getting into a consistent rhythm, though, you notice that you’re not really looking at other people. Instead, you’re focused on yourself, your form, your strength, and the exercise you’re performing. This is the same for everybody else. Just like you, they are more concerned over their own workout than they are about others. No one goes to the gym to actively judge others, and reminding yourself of this can help make you feel more comfortable working out.

Everyone is different and everyone’s gym experience is individual, but these five tips helped me not only gain comfort at the gym but confidence as well. I still use these tips throughout my fitness journey to stay consistent and comfortable such as switching up my workout split, finding new workout clothes or sets I like, and reminding myself of those two key things. I encourage everyone to find different elements of the gym that help them become comfortable and confident in themselves while working out, even if they are not listed here.

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Sydney Ciano

U Mass Amherst '25

Sydney is a student at UMass Amherst studying English and Sports Journalism looking to pursue a career in sideline sportscasting reporting. She has a strong interest in poetry writing, having published her first poetry book prior to college, and pop culture. Aside from writing, she enjoys sunsets, makeup, reading, and listening to a variety of music.