5 Gym hacks to help you beat the weights room fear
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I have been in and out of gyms for over 20 years. My Dad used to make me go to the gym when I was in high school because he was worried that I would lose my gymnastics strength and fitness. Unfortunately you can’t out train a bad, lazy, junk food loving, teenager diet, so alas I eventually stopped going to the gym and continued to eat rubbish food. Eventually I picked it back up when I was 20 (the gym that is, not the junk food diet).
When I did go back to the gym however, I headed straight to the cardio machines, then after 40 minutes on treadmill and bike, I would go to the floor and do some ab exercises that I had read in Cosmo magazine.
Occasionally I mustered up the courage to grab a couple of dumbbells for some bicep curls and maybe a tricep kick-back, but most of the time I was completely clueless and extremely anxious about looking stupid in Lycra (which back then, wasn’t as trendy).
I was lucky enough to have a very gym savvy boyfriend at the time. We almost broke up over many gym workouts; Couples that train together, stay together is a total lie and the truth is the couple that DOESN’T train together, stays together. If you’ve ever tried to workout with your bf you’ll know what I mean. Regardless of this, I begged him to teach me some good moves, and ironically it was him that would later convince me to become a PT.
The reason I’m giving you this back story is because I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to feel awkward and out of place in the gym. I remember what it’s like to feel like the weights room was actually another name for the mens room. The thought of picking up anything heavier than my handbag, well, it just never even manifested into a thought, anything above 5kgs was absolutely reserved for those of the opposite sex, or body building women.
So to help bust those gym myths and get you back in the weights room with the smell of aftershave, metal and testosterone (the hormone that keeps you lean and toned), I’ve got some sneaky gym hacks for you. With these, you will feel more confident and comfortable in the gym:
Problem: I don’t know if I’m doing the exercises correctly and that makes me feel self-conscious.
Just ask - Right so you want to know how to squat, but despite all the online articles you’ve read or Vertue Method videos you’ve watched, you’re just not sure if you’re doing it right… Here’s the thing, most of us Personal Trainers are nice people and we actually genuinely WANT to help.
PT’s get a bad reputation (and look, we have all seen that PT on their phone while their client is squatting with bad form), but in actual fact, most of them got into this career because they wanted to help people.
If you see a PT walking around on the gym floor obviously provided he/she is not with a client, ask them to quickly check your form. If they’re really helpful, they may even suggest a better exercise for your body based on what they’ve noticed about your movement patterns.
You don’t owe them money for that piece of advice, it’s simply them wanting to help you get the most out of your exercise, just in the same way that someone probably helped them.
Get over the fear of asking a PT or Gym Floor assistant, I promise that they would love to help you - if on the very rare, rare, rare occasion they don’t, and you’re met with a rude stare, tell me their name and instagram handle and I will officially slay them hard with my keyboard warrior alter ego.
Problem: I just feel a bit scared by myself. I need help lifting the 20kg plates off the machines and bar and also I’m not sure how to work the machines.
Bring a friend - I HATE snap-chatting on the street by myself, I feel like a proper, narcissistic twat, but when I’m with a friend, suddenly, I feel invincible and can do what I want. Power in numbers I guess; if someone is with me it means I have friends, if I have friends I’m obviously not crazy, if I’m not crazy - I can do narcissistic stuff on my phone and not be labelled as crazy. It’s completely illogical but I know so many of you will understand what I mean.
Anyway, to get to the point, if you bring a friend to the gym with you and you enter the weights room together, you will have an air of confidence and security. You can help each other get weights on the bar, or figure out how the cable machines work. You can spot each other and just generally egg each other on. It’s also way better (and cheaper) than accompanying each other to the pub.
Problem: I just feel lost in the weights room. When I do a cardio class or go on a cardio machine I know I will be sweaty. If I try to do a weights session, I just wander around aimlessly trying different exercises.
Fail to plan, plan to fail - Failing to plan a workout can leave you feeling a bit hopeless in the gym. That sense of hopelessness can really kill the weights room confidence, which is imperative in a room that is dominated by the smell of man aftershave, heavy metal and testosterone.
If you walk into the gym with a plan you can set up a station of dumbbells and benches so you can quickly get into your workout ‘zone'. The ‘zone’ is what I like to call that state of mind where you feel focused and as bad ass as mystique in X-Men. This ‘zone’ will mean you’ll pay less attention to the distracting things going on around you.
The more focused you are on your workout, the more capability you’ll have to drown out negative, self doubt sentences in your mind telling you that everyone is watching you fail, because you’re not failing, you’re owning that workout you planned earlier; like. a. boss.
Problem: I honestly have no clue what to do in a gym at all, but I can’t afford PT.
Quit drinking for a couple of weeks and have some sessions with a PT. I know this hack isn’t for everyone, it’s probably not really a hack if you have to pay for it. Having a PT is a luxury, not a necessity, but before you roll your eyes at this suggestion, take a moment to ask yourself if there is somewhere in your life you’re leaking funds, that you could actually put towards your health. Very often, it’s your social life.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you give socialising up, but one or two weeks of staying at home Friday and Saturday night is not going to turn you into an anti-social psychopath, you will however save a lot of money, which could be well spent on health and fitness.
Make sure the personal trainer you have is qualified, passionate, compassionate, skilful and knowledgable - assure them that you can’t afford PT for a long time and just want a program with a little guidance on the moves. I promise this will be the turning point in your results AND your gym floor confidence.
Problem: I feel really, really, really self conscious in the gym. I feel like if I make a mistake on my form people will judge me.
This one is not a hack, it’s just a realisation: Narcissism was basically invented on the gym floor, right by the dumbbells, good lighting and mirrors - so trust me when I say people are rarely looking at you, and more often they will be looking at their own biceps/triceps or abs. If you feel self conscious because you’re worried about people watching you while you train, I’m 99% sure that they are just waiting for the right time to snap a cheeky gym selfie. Employ hack number 3, train hard, get sweaty and then get out.
What other problems have I missed?
Comment below - let's all help each other abolish the F.E.A.R (False Evidence Appearing Real).