Have you ever bought new workout pants with the best of intentions, and then almost immediately regretted your decision upon opening the doors at the gym? This just doesn't feel like the place for you. It's easy to feel self-conscious at the gym, what with all the weights being thrown in the air, booties popping, and scary machines clanking. How are you — the casual Pilates video doer — supposed to tie up your hair into a ponytail and join the throng? There's just no way that you can hop onto an arm curl machine without looking like a complete and total newb, and you don't know how you feel about practicing your push ups or flailing through planks with everyone watching your every move. Talk about uncomfortable.
The thing is, though, all that angst and worry is completely made up. Everyone there is just like you: They just want to get in and get out. So by letting your self consciousness get in the way of you going ham — no matter how unskillfully — at the gym is a real disservice to you. So it's time to get over it! Below are seven tips on how to stop feeling self conscious at the gym.
1. Remember: No One Was Born On A Glute Machine
Do you want buns of steel but can't quite muster the courage to clamber onto that intimidating looking glute machine? Are you supposed to sit on it, squat under it, lift the bars, what? The idea of making a complete fool of yourself in front of the handful of people around you is too unbearable and so you abandon the idea and beeline for the smoothie bar.
I know how you feel, but here's a pro tip on how to quiet those nerves and get you to face your fears: Remind yourself that at one point and time everyone in that gym was where you were, and they just took the time to learn how to do it. So square your shoulders and approach the beast.
Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a psychologist specializing in self-esteem, told Women's Health, "Tell yourself that no one is born knowing it, but you're going to learn, and ask a gym staffer to give you a primer." We all had to start from the bottom.
2. Know That You Don't Need Confidence To Go — You'll Get It By Going
It's almost like an evil cycle: You don't feel confident enough to go to the gym, which means you don't have a chance to prove to yourself how strong and capable are, which means you're forever stuck in this slump of self consciousness. Next time you stop yourself from doing anything at the gym because of low self esteem, remind yourself this: Once you do it a couple of times, you'll be confident in it. But all you need to do is start.
Ricki Friedman, motivational health coach and founder of Breaktheweight.com, told Elite Daily, "The point of the gym is to get healthier and provide people a space to do so. Just keep reminding yourself of that fact whenever you feel out of place or insecure — you’re actually exactly where you should be." If you're there to get stronger and healthier, then you've got no reason to feel weird.
3. I Pinky Promise: No One Is Looking At You
The next time you avoid the weights room or don't clamber onto a machine because you're 100 percent certain everyone is staring at you, put the situation into perspective. Think about the last time you stared at someone hard during your own workout. Did you ever? Did you think a tirade of mean thoughts about how they're trying their best and taking care of themselves? No? Well, neither is anyone else.
Friedman stressed, "But the bottom line is that we’re way harder on ourselves than others are. And although we like to think people care that much about us, they really don’t. So just do your thing." I know you're attention-worthy, but no one's lookin'.
4. Focus On Your Body, Not Your Surroundings
You're there to kill it with your body, not to worry if Mr. No Sleeves over there is snickering at your 10 pound weights. So instead of focusing all your attention on the outside elements, zero in on your body and pay attention to how it moves, strains, and endures. Psychologist Dr. Barbara Markway, Ph.D., shared with Lifehack, "Switch your focus from those around you to how your body feels at it moves."
You'll feel proud, smug, excited, and pretty impressed with what you can handle, so keep the focus on that.
5. Let Music Carry Your Nerves Away
It's going to be hard to care how many people watch you flail at crunchies when you have Beyonce in your ears urging you to slay. To feel less self-conscious and more in tune with why you're there (to become a beast!) put on pump-up music and let it inspire you to go nuts on your routine. Fitness writer Esther Crain observed, "Popping in ear buds and working out to a playlist you love will also ease anxiety by blocking out the people and gear around you." Let them all melt away as Pitbull takes over.
6. Get Inspiration From Others In Your Shoes
You're not the only newbie on the block — there are a ton of people just joining the game, and you can get inspiration from their healthy perspective. When Markway began her gym journey, she read forums to ease her anxiety. Markway shared, "After reading various gym forums I've found that...most people...are thinking positive thoughts, like 'Good for you!' or 'I used to be there, too.'"
Another great way to make you want to leave your inhibitions and slay at the gym is to watch videos like "This Girl Can." It makes you immediately want to pop down into a burpie.
7. Show Up With A Plan
A great way to avoid the whole "wandering aimlessly and scared" bit at the gym is to come in with a game plan. Fitness writer Leta Shy from Popsugar pointed out, "Knowing what you're doing and how long takes a lot of the intimidation out of getting to the gym. Print out one of our workout posters to take with you so you can follow along with ease." You can also read forums and strategize a game plan, have a playlist of workout videos on your phone, or pop into a class and follow along if you're feeling intimidated.
So put those new gym pants back on girl — you've absolutely got this!