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A Girl’s Guide to Navigating the Gym

The initial step in starting something new or changing a habit can be one of the most difficult parts of a journey. Sometimes, all it takes is a wave of encouragement and guidance to know how to tackle what appears to be an enormous obstacle. Personally, going to an actual gym made me self-conscious for so many different reasons. However, over time, I realized that going to the gym is a display of your strength and determination regardless of how far into your journey you are. Here are some tips to boost your confidence and help you take that first step in conquering the gym.

Make a plan

One of my biggest fears of the gym stemmed from when I would just pass by and glance inside. Lined up against the window were numerous complex machines with so many options for adjusting the weight, position and resistance. In addition, there were free weights, dumbbells, bikes, rowing machines and a never-ending list of other equipment. With such a wide range of options, making a plan beforehand can help alleviate the stress of not knowing what to do when you arrive. This doesn’t have to be a detailed plan. Start with a goal for your session. Do you want to focus on your legs, arms or full body? Then, jot down some machines you want to try out. The first few sessions should be your time to experiment with how the machines work and which machines and weights are best for you. Keep in mind, these things will always change with time. Going to the gym is about challenging yourself to improve and showing yourself that you are cable of overcoming your doubts. 

Find workout partners

Although planning can relieve some of the stress attached to going to the gym, I still felt like I was starting from square one. I had a plan, but plans are always susceptible to change, especially in new environments. Gym equipment may seem operable at first glance but adjusting it to prevent injuries and experimenting with the resistance can seem nerve-racking. For my first trip to the gym, I decided to bring a friend that had more experience. Learning how to adapt the equipment to your body is such a key component of a successful, safe gym experience. Having a friend that can show you around and answer your questions is ideal. Not only that but going to the gym with friends is a great way to strengthen friendships in a healthy manner. The gym shouldn’t be a stressful place. Instead, it should be a place for growing mentally and physically while sharing laughs with your friends. 

Invest in cute outfits

Going to the gym as a newbie can be a big step out of your comfort zone. However, this is completely a valid feeling. The gym is a place where progress is made only when you step out of your comfort zone and push yourself through that initial discomfort. To ease the transition into this new setting, invest in some trendy gym outfits that make you feel comfortable. For some, this may be just be a pair of shorts and an oversized T-shirt. For others, this may be leggings and a crop top. The style of clothing you’re wearing is not important; the important thing is that you feel confident and comfortable in your outfit. Use your outfit as another source of motivation to rock your first, and future, workouts. 

Even though all of these tips are great starting points to conquer fears of the gym, the most important factor is your mindset. Planning workouts, finding a workout partner and investing in cute gym gear is only half the battle. It is equally important to have the mindset to see yourself as beautiful, capable, and determined. With a strong mental and physical drive, your hard work will show you how much potential you have to grow. Grab your friends, stay hydrated, and go challenge yourself!

Dharani Ramaiah is sophomore at the University of Kentucky majoring in Biology and minoring in Neuroscience. During her spare time, Dharani loves working out, reading, and planning outings with her friends. In the future, she hopes to become a physician to make a difference in and beyond her community. Her instagram is @dharani_ramaiah.
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