It’s not unlike a vicious cycle: You’re feeling bad about yourself, so you don’t want to go to the gym, and you don’t want to go to the gym, so you end up feeling bad about yourself.
Or maybe all the intense juiceheads and soul-crushing skinny betches walking around have gotten you scared of ever setting foot in the weight room.
At some point in our lives, we’ve all experienced "gymtimidation," or the fear of working out at a gym because everything from the crazy contraptions to the seriously ripped bodies is extraordinarily intimidating.
If you’re struggling to overcome your gymtimidation, you’re not alone: A survey of over 500 men and women conducted by Cosmopolitan Body found that women are twice as embarrassed about exercising as men, especially when they feel other gym-goers are taking notice of them.
But you shouldn’t let your gym anxiety prevent you from getting fit and improving your health -- it’ll just impede your progress even more.
With help from Ricki Friedman, motivational health coach and founder of Breaktheweight.com (an inspirational business and website designed to guide individuals to live healthier and happier lives in unique and fun ways), here’s why and how you should stop feeling intimidated by the gym.
1. You don’t need to be fit to go
That’s why you’re going to the gym! Cosmopolitan Body found that 15 percent of women are afraid of appearing out of shape and therefore avoid going to the gym.
But skipping your workout will only exacerbate this self-conscious feeling. The best way to get over feeling flabby is doing something about it.
A lot of people hate the gym because they feel fat or bad about themselves, says Ricki Friedman.
She suggests overcoming this by making a playlist of really inspirational songs that get you super pumped.
And I would put my headphones on before I even left my car so that when I walked into the gym [my feelings] didn’t matter as much because I was getting pumped up by my awesome music.
2. You can easily avoid the locker room
If you’re part of the 97 percent of women who feel uncomfortable walking around naked in the locker room, the easiest way to overcome this is by showing up already in your workout gear. You don’t have to change in front of other nude strangers.
And if you’re coming directly from the office, the privacy of the bathroom stall is always another alternative, offers Ricki.
3. Instructors will gladly show you how to use the machines and free weights properly
With big, grunting men and devices that look like they belong in torture chambers, it’s no wonder that 44 percent of those surveyed for Cosmopolitan Body fear the weight room.
But you’ll never know how to use those machines if you don’t ask. That’s what those trainers are there for!
Upon signing up, many gyms also offer a free personal training session, which is an excellent opportunity to learn how to use the equipment and understand what weights you should start with. Classes can also provide you with ideas on movements and exercises.
Remember that the judgments you’re making about yourself are coming from you and not those around you. And here’s something to make you feel less insecure: around 20 percent of men in the weight room have no clue what they’re doing either.
4. You’re there to build confidence
It’s completely natural if you’re lacking self-confidence, but instead of letting that deter you from going, channel this as motivation to work harder.
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, notes Ricki.
Also try telling yourself that you’ll for sure leave the gym feeling better than you would having not gone at all.
5. Everyone is focused on themselves, not you
If people are looking at you, it’s because they envy what you’re doing. Most people, however, are too concerned with checking out themselves in the mirror.
Every single person at the gym thinks that every single other person at the gym is watching them, says Ricki. 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.
Also, who really cares what anyone else thinks about your workout? According to Jamie Medeiros, director of marketing at Planet Fitness, 85 percent of people don’t belong to a health club, which already makes you ahead of the game.
And if you’re seriously insecure, bring a friend along to help relax you and make your workout more fun. You’ll be less focused on everyone else around you.
6. The gym is liberating
You can sweat like a complete pig and it’s totally appropriate. You can listen to music and move your body in any way that feels satisfying. You can escape the pressures of work, life and home.
Ricki likes the gym because she gets to tune everybody out, literally.
I don’t take my headphones off the entire time. When you’re excited and in the groove with your favorite songs, you’re less concerned about the girl next to you because Beyoncé is playing.
The gym can’t be too terrifying if the Queen has got your back.
7. Bonus: Here's Ricki's go-to pump-up playlist
1. "Trumpets" by Jason Derulo
2. "I like how it feels" by Enrique Iglesias
3. "Shower" by Becky G
4. "Let the beat build" by Lil Wayne
5. "Work" by Iggy Azalea
6. "Bad" by David Guetta
7. "Radio" by Beyoncé
8. "Stolen Dance" by Milky Chance
9. "Heads will roll (A-Trak remix)" by Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs
10. "Happy" by C2C
11. "Bailando" by Enrique Iglesias
Photo Courtesy: Tumblr