Goodbye, Gymtimidation: How To Overcome Your Fitness Fears

Going to the gym is undoubtedly intimidating, especially for women. We live in a time where (thankfully) now we have women run the workout scene as well. The stigma against fit women and “women who lift” is finally fading. But, the gym can still be a terrifying place. We often feel intimidated because we fear that everyone is judging us, or that we’re doing something wrong. But, the truth is, everyone is probably focused on themselves and not even thinking twice about looking in your direction.

One of the hardest parts about attacking the gym as a woman is deciding when you officially want to get started. It takes a seemingly long time to create a habit. But trust me, it really isn’t all that bad. Think about how many bad habits you can create in a month, or how quickly this month has already gone by. Your goals are definitely achievable, but you have to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons if you want to be able to stick it out. 

Here's how to fight this intimidation and tackle your fitness goals.

1. Bring a buddy.

There truly is safety in numbers. If you bring a friend or a group of friends to the gym you can instantly feel a sense of relief and confidence in trying new exercises or machines. Your partners can hold you accountable but can also remind you to not push yourself past your limits. Head over to the gym together after class or even coordinate for a gym session once a week. There are so many different forms of working out, and many of them can bring you closer to others. In fact, working out with your significant other may bring you two closer and keep your relationship healthy and happy. Exercising with your partner can increase your emotional bond, help you achieve your goals and help fulfill theirs, mimic sexual arousal and increase attractiveness and increase satisfaction. There are many partner activities you can do with a friend or significant other, from joint exercises to classes. There are plenty of classes and events at the Student Recreation & Fitness Center or Southwest Recreation Center, like hip hop fitness or yoga. If you don’t want to work out in the traditional gym setting, there are plenty of options outdoors such as kayaking or hiking. You can turn exercising into a fun and fulfilling day out with those you care about.

2. Have a plan.

After we finally hype ourselves up into going to the gym and push through those doors, we often feel overwhelmed. Where are we even supposed to start? There are so many options, and it’s normal to not know what to do. There’s an easy fix for this feeling. Before you get to the gym, have a plan for what you’re going to do. Look up videos on exercises you want to do or how to use certain machines that interest you. Many YouTubers or fitness bloggers have quick videos on how to perform certain sets of exercises and what equipment you might need. Umama Kibria is the founder and CEO of SASS Brands and is an amazing inspiration for making your way in the fitness world. She posts on her Instagram multiple times a day with different tips and advice for making the most of your workout and how to feel better about your health, both mentally and physically. Her videos are examples of how helpful of a resource online fitness inspiration can be.




SOUND ON: How to stop caring what people think of you in the gym ⠀ Is anyone else blind in the gym? I’m surprised I’ve met so many friends through the gym. My Formula: • Hair in the Face (seriously) • 5 Min Run to ^ Heart-rate • Follow a program / game plan • Tempo Training (# for Reps, Letters for Tempo) • Look at the clock • Badass playlist • Walk with purpose. Head up + look towards my destination ⠀ Now how can you take this mentality in work today? ⠀ Create a list of TOP 3 things you want to accomplish today to gain momentum in the AM #winning ⠀ • Headphones On • Vision Board • Listen to TED Talks/Podcasts • Schedule out your snacks/meals • Go for a walk during lunch • Work In 40/20 min increments sprints ⠀Any other productivity hacks? I need them today #sassywoman

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It also helps to write down in your notes what you hope to get done for that specific day in the gym. Once you start to do this a couple of times, you’ll have a schedule set that you can experiment with every week. Yes, the cliché of “leg day” or “arm day” are actually very helpful. Plan out what parts of your body you want to target each day of the week. If you’ve had a hard or busy day, do what comes naturally to you. If you’re ready to challenge yourself, then target where you feel weakest. All this being said, you still have to be flexible. Sometimes the machine or equipment you want won’t be available. Have some backup workouts you can do in the meantime, or plan to get to the gym when it’s not usually busy. 

3. Rest. Yes, that means you can skip.

Please, be gentle with yourself. No. This doesn’t mean your weak, flaky or any negative thought that may cross your mind. You are only accountable to yourself, do not let anyone else make you feel lesser because you need a day off. Your body needs rest, and if you’re in excessive pain or exhausted then take care of yourself. Your health is the number one priority. Do not push yourself past your limits just to fit into a societal mold of the perfect body or lifestyle. Work out when you’re stressed and need to burn off some anxiety or frustration. Going to the gym is meant to boost your energy and help to maintain your body that literally carries you throughout life. Our bodies are incredible vessels that help us through every aspect of our daily lives. Make sure to respect yourself and your body. Learn to love yourself now, and do not treat the gym as a “fix” for what’s wrong with you. That will only cause you to burn out and quit. Take it easy. 

4. Stay focused and enjoy yourself.

If you want to stick to your new habit, make sure to remember why you even wanted to start in the first place. Set a clear goal and reason for going before you go. If you’re going from a place of self-loathing or insecurity, you will only feel worse and punish yourself when you fall off the bandwagon. Gradual changes to our habits and lifestyle are what works. You can’t change your life overnight, so be patient with yourself. Have fun and relax. Don’t be afraid to laugh if you look silly or simply just because you’re having a good time. Don’t get me wrong: working out isn’t easy. It takes a huge time commitment, and intense focus and concentration. Anyone can start going to the gym, but the hardest part is sticking with it. There are so many benefits to physical exercise, a few of them being that it increases your energy levels, helps your brain and memory, increases your relaxation and sleep quality, and improves your mental health and mood. All of us lead very busy lives, but make sure to carve out time for yourself and your body.

There is nothing wrong with going to the gym whenever you can, it’s possible to lead a healthy lifestyle without becoming the classic “gymaholic.” Whether you go five times a week, once a week or you miss a week altogether – it’s okay.  

Going to the gym doesn’t suddenly make you a worthier person, or a more desirable one. Everyone has their own reason for doing things, and by no means is there one set “right” way to do things. But, you should go to the gym for your reasons and your reasons only. Whether that’s to feel healthier, relieve stress or build confidence in your abilities. The gym can be a place of empowerment, but whether you go or not can’t define you. The gym’s got nothing on you.