Too shy to work the weights room? Here’s how to beat your gym fears!
We’ve all been there – ready to smash the latest TRX class or finally get to grips with the Smith machine only to lose our nerve when a group of super-fitbies hit the gym floor. It’s a common scenario, with a survey by Sport England showing that 75 per cent of women want to be more active but fear being judged for their appearance or ability. The aim of the viral This Girl Can campaign is to quash those worries and show it’s OK to jiggle or sweat while you work out. We at H&F couldn’t agree more, so – to ensure you don’t retreat to your ‘comfy’ workout zone – we asked the experts how to beat confidence demons.
1 CONQUER THE CHAOS
People who plan feel in control – over 80 per cent of workers claim that being organised improves their performance. The same goes for gym goers, so ask an instructor for a workout plan and watch your gym confidence soar. ‘Before you walk in the door, make sure you know exactly which exercises and weights you’re going to use,’ agrees Scott Laidler, top trainer at. ‘You’ll feel far more comfortable when you know exactly what you’re doing.’
2 BEAT THE GYM CROWD
If you’re not ready to train with the rest of the gym crowd, consider hitting the weights room during off-peak times when the gym’s quieter. ‘I often train clients that are self-conscious very early in the morning or last-thing at night,’ reveals health coach, Joshua Silverman (@silvermanhealth). ‘This helps them to build confidence and start feeling more at ease in a gym environment.’ Off-peak memberships are cheaper, too!
3 KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE
Don’t be afraid to be a newbie. Remember that everyone started somewhere – yes, even Mrs Bodybuilder was a beginner once upon a time. ‘So many people have a perception that they will not be fit enough to go to the gym,’ adds Gillian Reeves, national group exercise manager at Virgin Active. ‘There’s really nothing to worry about, as there are lots of different people at the gym and no-one minds if you can’t touch your toes or run a mile!’
4 PUMP UP YOUR PLAYLIST
Music makes people feel powerful. Research in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science shows that heavy-bass tracks makes athletes feel empowered. ‘Pick a good playlist that will help you to focus on your workout without being distracted,’ says Silverman. ‘Make exercise your “meditation time” – an hour that is all about you. By doing this, you’ll lose your inhibitions and forget to worry about what anyone else is thinking.’
5 DITCH THE SWEATPANTS
A good excuse to go shopping – buying new gym kit can do wonders for your confidence. ‘No end of people sidle into the gym wearing an unflattering old T-shirt to cover up their body,’ explains Silverman. ‘Believe me, investing in clothes that make you feel more comfortable and confident will make all the difference to how hard you work out.’ Just remember to keep comfort in mind – new clobber won’t boost your confidence if it’s too tight, bright or daring!
6 FIND A FRIEND
Feeling really out of your comfort zone? Don’t go to the gym alone. ‘Sometimes, being alone can be quite intimidating, but training with a friend will give you confidence,’ says Tyrone Brennand, founder of Be The Fittest (). ‘Training with a buddy will also help you to push more, as people often train harder when they see their mate working their socks off!’