If you’re someone who’s just starting their fitness journey, the hardest part is usually not the actual workout, but the fact that you need to step into a gym. Sounds familiar? I am sure it does. There is no reason to feel bad about being scared of the gym, it’s normal. It tends to get intimidating for beginners, a story I share with all of you. I’m taking this opportunity to talk to you about my experience with the gym and working out in general, how I didn’t start out on an ideal note either, and how I’ve come to own MY space in the world of fitness.
Rewind to 2012 where I was living on pizzas and whiskey. I got the occasional “look at that double chin” and “you don’t wear dresses, you wear sacks to cover your body” and I was okay with it. It never made me feel bad, but it did hit some part of me that wanted to prove to the world that hey, I can get rid of this double chin, or I can fit into a bodycon too. I’d go to the gym, thinking “Let’s do this, let’s burn that fat!” This would all change as soon as I’d step into the gym though- looking at everyone working out and sweating all around me, lifting weights that were probably heavier than what I was (no kidding, some of those men didn’t seem human okay!) I’d suddenly feel low, scared, even conscious of the shorts and loose shirt I was wearing while everyone around me sported Nikes and Pumas. I’d quietly go to the treadmill because that was the only machine I understood. I’d run, sweat it out, and that’s it, done. I didn’t know what else to do, and I was too scared to ask anyone because I thought people would laugh at me or judge me for being such a noob wanting to be a part of this space. I left the gym in 20 days when I realised I was doing nothing other than running. I started running at an area near my house. Again, I’d run post 9pm, when I knew there was no one to watch me. I’d choose the darkest of roads to run on, you know, just in case someone saw me and decided to laugh. All this while I was avoiding telling anyone that I had started working out. (Not that I was obese or anything, I just had a whole lot of body image issues. I was really hard on myself, I’d judge myself too much, and there was never a positive thought about what I did. I was insecure, unhappy and negative about life in general, an attitude that made it’s way into my fitness routine too. I was so low on confidence & so harsh on myself that I’d not talk to strangers even in groups because “omg what will they think” I look back on those days and shudder. Dark, dark days.)
I slowly got the confidence to run in more public areas (this happened as I realised I could run easily and the whole process of running was turning out to be fun) But I’d still run at 9pm.
Before I realised how much time had passed, it was summer and it was time to hit the pool. Swimming is something I had learnt to enjoy after being trained by the best in business back in 2004. Swimming was my space, swimming was a fun workout, and I slowly started seeing results and started tuning into my body while I was exercising. I realised if I payed attention to my body I knew exactly what muscle I was working on and I’d be able to tone it better by improving my posture and form. I invested in sportswear and realised it added to the fun.
Then it struck me- no one at the gym has the time to judge you. No one at the gym really CARES to be honest. Everyone who works out is busy tuning into their own workout, they’re concentrating on their bodies, their workouts, and they have all started somewhere. They weren’t just born into the gym. And then came the realisation that no one really judged me for running the way I did, or lifting the way I did. There were a few helpful souls who’d come and point out a wrong form once in a while, and I realised it was a positive community aiming to empower each other. This was when I realised I need to tell everyone starting off that listen guys, NO ONE IS HERE TO JUDGE YOU!
When people ask me to train with them, then immediately say “no please you carry on we could never match up, you’ll laugh at us” – Nope, I won’t. I will be there with you asking you to move, to charge ahead, and I will understand the struggle. I have been there too, and I’m not going to forget it. Those who have worked out with me know this about me, they know I’d not laugh if they screw up. Screwing up is NORMAL!
Will you allow me to make this a little simple for you. You just need to read carefully, and trust me with this, okay? Hope it isn’t too much to ask for.
- A new gym is intimidating
True. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help. Go to a trainer and ask him/her about the gym. Chances are that they will help you in your workouts for the first few days. If they don’t, you need to find yourself a new space. And it’s hardly ever happened that a trainer has never helped a newbie. So you’re gonna be fine, okay?
2. Everyone is a supermodel, what am I doing here?
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the gym. Let me tell you this: gyms have every kind of person — young, old, skinny, heavy, male and female. Every person has a goal, and is working towards it. Going to the gym is like going to a new school- it feels strange and most of us hate it. But you get through it and you do fine. Promise.
3. All that machinery….I’m sure I will make a fool of myself.
The fear of looking stupid is something we all experience when trying new things. Once again, approach the gym trainer. Plus your fellow gym buddies will help you out, they always do! But do not interrupt someone while they’re working out. Just don’t, okay?
4. Everyone is looking at me…
Feel like that loose shirt and old shorts will make you stick out in the sea of beautiful bodies draped in expensive sportswear? Ok let’s come back to reality now; 90% of the people at the gym are sweaty, out of breath and just trying to get through it. The other 10% are too busy looking at themselves to be looking at you. See, you need to remember this: everyone is working towards improving themselves. If someone has the time to look at you to judge you, they’re not working hard enough. Their loss.
5. I think I will get bored.
Get a workout buddy! You’re underestimating the power and influence of a workout partner. You’ll love them on those days you can’t get out of bed, or can’t seem to finish a set, or are bored generally and need to try something new at the gym. Trust me, invest in a workout buddy and you will thank them later :)
Working out requires a lot of effort — it’s not easy, but those who keep at it will always see results. Plus it’s not fair to victimize the people who put in the time and effort to actually achieve their goals. You don’t need this sort of negativity in your life. Intimidation is an unavoidable part of life. There will always be someone who you feel is better than you in some way, but this doesn’t mean you should run from those feelings.
You cannot compare your Day 1 to someone else’s Day 365.
Charge on folks, charge right ahead and own your space!