About a month ago, I decided to get back in the gym. After spending 10 months doing at-home workouts, I decided I wanted a new challenge.
And to be quite honest, the Instagram trainers stopped posting free workouts.
I’ve always been pretty familiar with the gym, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t apprehensive about going back. There’s scary men slamming weights on the ground (most of them have terrible form, by the way), and the layout always takes some getting used to. Kind of like when you walk into a new Walmart and suddenly forget how to act like a person.
Just me? Okay.
The point is, getting back into the gym can be pretty anxiety-inducing, almost to the point where it seemed easier for me to just not go at all. But honestly, I felt that I owed it to myself. I owed it to myself not only for my health, but because I deserved to show myself that I could do something that scared me.
I’ve been consistently going about 4-5 times a week now, and I can honestly say I feel really comfortable walking in. I’m not the fittest person there, and there’s still a lot of things I don’t know how to do. But every time I go to work out, I promise myself that I will try something new; whether it’s a machine, a new type of lift, or heavier weight.
I want to be transparent, so I have no problem admitting that I have done a lot of things wrong. I’ve spent ten minutes trying to figure out the resistance on a stationary bike.
I’ve had my squat form absolutely destroyed by a random trainer there (more on this guy in another post).
Perhaps the most embarrassing, I literally did 3 sets of 10 reps on a machine backwards. HOW DOES ONE DO THAT?!
The good thing is, I’m able to laugh at myself. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe it’s because I’ve stopped giving a shit about what strangers think. But either way, I want to share ways that you can overcome your gym-induced anxieties, because you owe it to yourself to do things that scare you.
I know, it sounds lame. But really, this has been huge for me. Before going to the gym, research a few exercises or machines and how to do/use them. You can use the internet, or Instagram trainers if you’re into that. There are so many videos on different exercises for certain muscles that demonstrate proper form. I have used this technique so many times, and I will probably never stop using it. It’s a great way to show up having an idea of what you’re doing.
Make a Plan
While I’m on the bus to the gym, I type out in the notes section on my phone exactly what I’m going to do for my workout. Today, my note was this:
– Assisted pull-up (3×8 with 60-pound assistance)
– Superset with elevated tricep dips (3×8 with 40-pound assistance)
– Arnold press (3×8 with 15’s)
– Superset with bicep complex (3×8 with 10’s)
– Narrow shoulder press to tricep extension (3×8 with 10’s)
– Rope pulls 3×30 seconds
– Standing cable rows (3×12 with 32.5)
Honestly, I don’t even think I named some of these exercises right. But the important thing is, they made sense to me and I went in with a plan. This eliminates any uncomfortable standing around, and it ensures you aren’t spending hours at the gym figuring out what to do next.
Get the Lay of the Land
The treadmill is your friend. Or the elliptical, or any cardio machine really. Let me tell you why. When you get to the gym and hop onto a cardio machine for your warmup, you can look around and figure out just where stuff is. Your plan is to start at the chest press that you googled how to use? Great, it’s over there. Note sure where the free weights are? After a quick skim around the room, now you know. This trick really lets you scan the room while still fitting in. Because let’s be honest, that’s something even the most confident of people is worried about.
Ask for Help
It’s really not that scary, I promise. If you’re looking at a machine and you’re not sure how to use it, ask the front desk to show you. It’s literally their job. Or, find someone near you taking a break and ask if they can show you the ropes. It only takes a minute and most people are happy to help. I’ve asked so many random people for help, and I’ve never once had a bad experience. It’s also a great way to start a conversation with a cute guy/girl if you’re into that. (But don’t be creepy).
Reframe the Situation
Look, at the end of the day it’s just a building where people are doing stuff to their bodies. That sounds really weird, but you get it. Everyone else’s attention is on their own workout, so chances are they aren’t concerned about you. The first day I walked in, I was worried that people would judge me for what I was wearing; but then I honestly just decided to get over myself. Harsh, but effective because it’s just really not that deep. If people care that much about what you’re doing at the gym, then that’s their problem. Also they’re probably a weirdo and not fun at parties.
I’m not a fitness expert, nor will I ever be. But I do consider myself a “trying new things” expert, and I know that I have personally become better for it. No matter if you’ve been working out your whole life or have never stepped foot into a gym, I can guarantee that you will never regret showing up for yourself when it is scary.