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How to Gain Confidence in the Gym

One of the best things you can do at the beginning of your fitness journey is to get a gym membership and commit to using it. For many students, a gym membership is offered to them for free by their school, putting students in the best position to get fit and stay healthy. 

Whether you have specific fitness goals or are simply trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, starting as a gym rookie can be insanely intimidating. Sure, most people can figure out how to use a treadmill but looking upon the mass of equipment available in the gym can be extremely intimidating. 

If you find yourself looking to begin your fitness journey but are struggling to feel comfortable and confident in the gym, the following tips are made for you!

Tip #1: Choose Quiet Times

Gyms, especially student ones, have distinct busy hours and quiet hours. When new to the gym, it is easier to develop confidence during hours when fewer people workout. This will allow you to workout without the feeling of being judged while also giving you options to get familiar with the equipment you feel most comfortable with. Often when the gym is busy, common pieces of equipment are taken and the more obscure ones you may not be comfortable using will be available. Of course, every gym varies, but typically if you go early in the morning, 6-8 am, the gym will be very quiet. Alternatively, you can go during 9-5 work hours and there will likely be fewer people. Typically, evenings are the busiest times and should be avoided. 

Tip #2: Wear What Makes You Feel Confident

In the era of Instagram fitness influencers, there is a lot of pressure to enter the gym looking your finest and continue to look flawless all the way through your workout. This is definitely not necessary. One of the most essential things about gaining confidence in the gym is to wear clothing that makes you feel empowered. For some, empowerment can be found through a matching Gymshark set of leggings and a sports bra. But if you feel more confident in a baggy t-shirt, then don’t feel bad about it. The gym is not a fashion show; it is a place to better yourself, so wear whatever makes you feel confident and comfortable. 

Tip #3: Learn from People Who Go to the Gym Frequently

If you have a good friend who is a frequent flyer at the gym, ask them if you can tag along and learn what they do while working out! Most people who love to workout also love sharing what they do with other people. This is a great way to have someone lead you through some of the more intimidating parts of the gym. It is also a great way to learn how to use gym equipment, how to plan workouts and learn proper gym etiquette. 

Tip #4: Workout with a Plan

When you’re new to the gym, walking in with no plan can generate a lot of stress and cause extremely inefficient workouts because you do not know what to do. There are so many great online resources that you can use to create a plan or follow someone else’s program online. Also, by doing your research, you can learn how to do specific exercises before entering the gym, so you do not learn from scratch during your workout. Another useful tip is to try and learn a new piece of equipment or a new exercise every time you go to the gym. This way, you can know what you like and don’t like. This also keeps you from getting into a repetitive workout routine that gets boring. 

Tip #5: Live in Your Own World

Especially in university gyms, it can feel as if you are being watched, and it is tempting to pay attention to what others are doing. One of the best things to do at the gym is to live in your own world and only pay attention to yourself. If you go to the gym to better yourself, your focus should remain on yourself. This mindset of not comparing yourself to others helps you feel empowered and more confident. 

There you are. All the tips to begin to gain confidence in the gym! One more honourable mention that is not included on this list because it is not accessible to everyone is to pay for personal training or classes to kickstart your knowledge on how to workout. However, this is not necessary to start your fitness journey. Just remember it takes time to feel comfortable in the gym and by taking small steps outside your comfort zone each time you workout, you will feel like a professional gym-goer in no time. 

Wilfrid Laurier '22

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