Gymtimidaton. It’s a real thing. Seriously, according to one study, nearly half of all Americans find the idea of heading to the gym daunting, with anxiety, fear and lack of self-confidence causing them to stay at home. But there are a number of amazing ways you can boost your confidence before you make your gym debut, which can help you reach your fitness, weight loss and overall health goals faster. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Learn the Ropes — The aforementioned study found that much of the reason why people feel scared off by the gym is because they don’t know how to work out. In fact, nearly a quarter of people say they don’t know the best exercise for their body type. Start your exercise journey with research or by working with a fitness trainer, digging into the best options for you.
2. Get a Gym Buddy — Why is it that walking into an intimidating environment with a partner lessens the feelings of stress and anxiety by about half? Not only will a gym partner make you feel so much more comfortable in a space where you may feel you don’t belong, but it will also help keep you accountable and ensure that you stick with your regimen and aren’t tempted to skip sessions along the way.
3. Make a Pumped-Up Playlist — Don’t have (or want) a gym pal? There’s nothing wrong with putting on your headphones, rocking out to some super-energizing hip-hop or electronica and slaying your workout on your own. Music has the amazing ability to make you feel any way you want to feel—powerful, strong, confident, athletic. Stock that playlist before you go in so you have it ready to go.
4. Refresh Your Workout Gear — When you feel good about what you’re wearing, you’ll feel like you own the place. Take some time to find stylish workout clothes for women that you actually want to wear. Whether it be a fresh new pair of running shoes or some jazzy running tights with a fun pattern, do not underestimate the power of some brand-new fitness apparel.
5. Rock a New Sports Bra — On the same token, a new, properly fitting sports bra may be just what you need to replenish your confidence supply. A good, supportive undergarment is the unsung hero of your high-intensity workouts and will help push you to the next level and will quite literally support you while you’re crushing your personal bests. Don’t let an ill-fitting bra hold you back.
6. Watch YouTube Videos Beforehand — By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. We don’t often associate research and preparation with physical fitness, but the truth is that you can study for the gym just like you would any other activity. Watch videos on how to use the different equipment, including free weights and cardio machines, so you feel confident when you’re using them for the first time.
7. Keep Going — We know that many women feel intimidated by the idea of working out, but working out may actually be the way to solve that. In fact, research shows that exercise significantly boosts confidence and self-esteem. So, if you do one thing, make sure it’s this—stick with it!
8. Start Slow — Pushing yourself beyond your physical limitations is dangerous for a number of reasons. First, it can lead to injury and soreness, which may prevent you from getting back in the saddle. Next, it can hinder your confidence and make you feel like you’re “behind” on your exercise journey. Be sure to start at the lowest level and work your way up so you can see real progress over time.
9. Ask for Help — The entire staff at the gym is there to help support you and educate you about how to work out the right way. Don’t be ashamed to ask them to help you learn how to do certain exercises or how to use specific equipment. We’d also recommend asking some of the more experienced looking gym-goers for help. You’d be surprised how many people are happily willing to give you a hand!
10. Go the User-Friendly Route — If you’re brand-new to the gym, the last place you should start is the free weights room. Unless you’re working closely with a personal trainer, it’s best to start off with some guidance, like using the weight machines or taking a guided cardio class. Don’t push yourself too far too fast.
11. Track Your Progress — Tracking progress is vital to any workout endeavor because it helps you see that what you’re doing is worthwhile every step of the way. If confidence building is your main goal, measuring your success will serve as the motivator you need to keep going. Use fitness tracking apps like RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal and Google Fit to track your progress, weight and more.
12. Take a Power Stance — Last but not least, here’s one quick hack for how to trick yourself into feeling confident. Try the trick from Amy Cuddy’s famous TED Talk, where she explains that research shows that taking a “power stance,” such as holding your arms up in a warrior-like position, can actually lead to more confidence and more capability. Because sometimes it’s all in your head!
We’re All in it Together
One of the things to remember when trying to beat your self-confidence issues is that a good portion of the people in the gym feel just like you do. The next time you go, look around you and you’ll undoubtedly see people of all ages and body types who almost certainly share some of your insecurities. Everyone there is there to better themselves, and that’s commendable. Support one another and watch your confidence grow!