Have you ever walked into your favorite workout class, and despite having been there a billion times, you still kind of get that nervous, intimidated feeling in the pit of your stomach? After all, there are so many strong, talented people surrounding you, and as much as you hate to admit it, if you fall out of a yoga pose or can't complete a set of reps, you can't help but let it get to you sometimes. Deep down, part of you knows these thoughts and feelings of self-doubt are irrational, but feeling confident in a workout class isn't always easy — so how can you go about feeling more comfortable in your own skin and making the most of your workout at the same time?
Jenny Gaither, a Master SoulCycle instructor and founder of the Movemeant Foundation, is a fitness expert who is no stranger to the all-too-familiar anxiety that group workout classes can stir up. In fact, in her work with the nonprofit Movemeant Foundation, she empowers young women and girls by providing body-positive, confidence-building tools to help them feel comfortable and fearless in their workouts. To say the least, Gaither knows a thing or two about what it takes to transform self-doubt into self-compassion, especially in a workout-class setting.
According to Gaither, the biggest thing that can crush your confidence in a group workout class is comparing yourself to other people.
"I believe all bodies are meant to move and that our strengths can overshadow our insecurities," she tells Elite Daily. "However, everybody is different and unique, so to compare yourself to someone else will only set you up for failure."
You know the feeling, girl: Whether it's the impressive, advanced yogi on the mat next to you, or the resilient woman at the front of your cycling class who somehow hasn't broken even a hint of a sweat, paying too much attention to everyone else, rather than yourself, can almost guarantee that you're not going to feel comfortable, let alone confident, says Gaither.
The SoulCycle instructor says it's important to be gentle with yourself when it comes to these feelings of self-doubt. In other words, she tells Elite Daily, don't beat yourself up for having these thoughts in the first place; you can be aware of the fact that you feel this way, but there's no reason why you have to judge yourself for it, she explains. Remind yourself that unconditional confidence doesn't happen overnight — for anyone, Gaither adds.
Think of your body as a long-distance run, rather than a sprint, Gaither says: "It requires time, commitment, and patience."
"I always encourage my clients to find confidence through fitness by focusing on how your body feels and what it can do, rather than just how it looks," Gaither tells Elite Daily.
So instead of hyper-focusing on everything around you — the huffing and puffing of other class attendees, or the ridiculous set of abs on that one chick who's only working out in a sports bra and leggings — try to shift your attention to how amazing it feels to move, to breathe, to sweat, to challenge yourself and test your body's limits. For example, say you're in a yoga class; when you find your way into a warrior II pose, notice how strong and stable your legs feel as they support the weight of your body, and how elegant and graceful you feel in the stance. Or, if you're in a cycling class, take a moment to acknowledge the impressive work your lower body is doing. Yes, you low-key can't really feel your butt anymore because your muscles are so sore, but how cool is it that you can keep pushing and moving, despite how sweaty and exhausted you feel? You showed up to your workout, and you chose to challenge yourself. Those are the things that are worth not just noticing, but celebrating.
"The little wins are what keep us on track, and to me, health is about finding balance and having a fierce inner confidence to enjoy the sweet things in life," Gaither tells Elite Daily. "That is why, through my work with the Movemeant Foundation, we partner with brands like SPLENDA Naturals Stevia Sweetener, who share our goal of empowering women to take simple steps to becoming their best selves.”
And really, you are your best self, right here, right now, and yes, even in that workout class. You just haven't allowed yourself to realize it yet.