It’s that feeling of self-consciousness, anxiety and hesitation all blended into one lovely mixture that overwhelms you when you start packing your gym bag, and increases ever so slightly as the moment of your workout approaches. Then ensues the dreaded walk across the gym as you soak in the random glances of familiar and unfamiliar faces and wonder just how badly you will end up embarrassing yourself today.
We’ve all been there and we’ve all struggled to get the hell out of that mindset. Well, except for the very few kids who’ve been athletic all their lives and made the rest of us feel like a bunch of pansies. But all the better for you, because once you overcome this dread, and you will, you will be all the stronger for the challenge fear has put you through.
Tune up and tune out
Headphones. That’s all you need to keep those annoying repetitive techno beats of bland gym music out, not to flinch when a massive guy drops a 500lb deadlift, and stay in the zone. Make sure to throw in a playlist of your favorite, upbeat, powerful tunes because wearing just the headphones would be plain silly.
According to Costas Karageorghis, an expert on the topic, music is such a powerful motivator that he described it as a legal performance-enhancing drug. It will create a safe zone where you can focus on your breathing, movement patterns and unleash your potential without paying attention to those around you.
Plan your workout
Simply deciding you’ll go is far from enough, and your anxiety will likely persist throughout the entire time you’re there, turning it into an aimless ordeal you’ll never put yourself through again. The great thing is that there is a slew of instructional YouTube channels with fitness advice you can peruse, as well as ready-to-use meal and workout plans waiting for you to try them out.
Even if none of them seem appealing, with a little effort and research, you can create your own and figure out how to perform each movement before you put on your glorious tank top and hit the treadmill to warm up. Knowing every step of your workout will do wonders for your confidence!
If the playlist and the planning aren’t really doing their bit for you, taking a step back is not something you should perceive as failure. On the contrary, that one step can lead to several steps forward when the time is right. So why not start by ditching the gym completely and exercising at home?
Then you can work up the nerve to move your workouts outside, and you can even keep them versatile, and test your courage by trying different sports and not just stick to jogging. As long as you’re active and working up a sweat, soon enough you’ll join the gym ranks when you boost your confidence.
Pump your own tires
If you’re an introvert by nature or simply need a confidence kick, use all the ammo you can find, and that includes everything from what you wear to what you munch on! Watch motivational videos, make an awesome after-training snack, turn it into a ritual with as many enjoyable details as possible.
And never underestimate the power of your fitness clothes – prep your gear, from your trusty lifting gloves to your new gym shoes, because they will put you in a different mindset and boost your performance. Ultimately, all of these puzzle pieces will come together to help you build up your courage even when you’re on your own.
Find a pack
Or at least a partner in crime, so that you can both have an accountability partner, a gym buddy that lifts your spirits, and someone to laugh with throughout those awkward situations that arise, especially if you have no clue how to work the smith machine for your mighty glutes. You might prefer to start out in a group setting, such as a spinning or Zumba class, just to get your fitness jitters in order.
Then you can test your own workout with a single partner or a pack of your best buds to cheer you on as you master your first barbell squat and lunge across the gym. Whichever tempo works best for you, just stay consistent, and your results will soon be all you need to pack up and look forward to that next challenge.