Getting to the gym can be hard, and not just because it requires extra effort after an already exhausting day. It’s so easy to feel lost and vulnerable at the gym, especially when everyone else looks like they know what they’re doing, or like they belong in a fitness magazine. But here are my top five things to remember when you go to the gym to (hopefully) make it a bit less arduous and daunting.
1. No one is watching you like you think they are.
Working out is hard. That’s the point. If it’s not hard, you’re probably not getting a good workout in. It’s so easy to feel like everyone is judging you when you can’t lift a certain amount or run fast (or at all), but I promise, most everyone is focusing so hard on finishing their last reps or pushing out that last minute of their run to notice what you’re doing. And if you happen to look up and notice someone looking at you, just remember; you’re looking at them, too.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Everyone had to start somewhere. Jessica over there on the treadmill running her heart out has probably been at it for months. She was slower than you are when she first started. And Tim, doing lunges, is a nurse. He is on his feet constantly and this is his favorite way to escape the stress of his job. And Laura at the free weights with the crazy toned arms is a fire fighter. This is essentially her job. My point is that you don’t know where someone else is in their journey. They may have been working their asses off to get where they are now, and some of them still have a long way to go. Besides, your journey is not their journey. What you have to accomplish is not at all related to them.
3. Keep an open mind about trainers.
I know it can be hard to feel comfortable letting a stranger (assuming you don’t know your trainer personally) be in control of your workouts and see you at your worst, but I can promise you, they’ve seen it all. Personal Trainers (PT’s) understand how scary the gym can be for some people and are generally the most understanding and accommodating people. They want to help you. And honestly, the benefit you get from having someone push you past what you thought you were capable of is incredible. Not to mention, they’ve been trained and educated for this. If you have bad form (which can cause serious injury) they can show you how to fix it. If you need to take a break, they’re there to let you, and then encourage you to start again. I still do workouts that I learned from my trainer and I’m so glad I had the opportunity.
4. Don’t let intimidation keep you from trying new things.
I spent most of my time at my old gym on the treadmill. Not because I wanted to focus on running, but because I was too scared to try anything else. I knew of workouts that would work for me (thanks to my old trainer), but I didn’t do them because I let myself be too scared to be vulnerable around other people at that station, even if the machine was open. It got to the point where I didn’t feel like I was getting in a good workout because I’d spend 30 minutes on the elliptical and call it a day. Why, then, was I even paying for a membership? I could walk outside for free! Now that I have the luxury of working out where I work (after I get off, of course), I’m letting myself do things that I know will help. I’m making myself be more open, and now I’m sitting here trying not to have to get up because my legs are so sore from the lunges and squats I did yesterday, and that’s one of my favorite kinds of sore.
5. Just go. You’ll be glad you did.
Here’s the deal; not everyone goes to the gym to lose weight, and I’m so tired of that assumption, especially as it relates to fat people. But even if that’s your motivation, that’s good enough! Some people go to get muscle definition. Some people go to get physically stronger. Some people go because they love the endorphin high they get afterwards. Whatever your reasoning, just go. Now, that’s not to say you should risk personal injury or illness just to get a lifting session in. But if you’ve had a long, hard (that’s what she said) day at work and are stressed and exhausted and can think of a million reasons to just not go; go anyway. No, no one is going to be there to congratulate you and there won’t be a fanfare, but just knowing you didn’t give in to your own self-doubt is reason enough. And if you ever need someone to cheer for you, I’m always here and I’ll always tell you how proud I am of you and congratulate you because you deserve it. Plus, the side affects of a good workout, especially when you had to do a lot of convincing yourself just to go, are worth it themselves.
So, yeah, getting to the gym can be arduous for a lot of people and for a lot of reasons, but if you want to do it, don’t let anything or anyone stop you. You are strong and powerful and brave and a warrior. No one can take that away from you.