You know what’s ironic?  I worked at a pool as a lifeguard, spent hours swimming, running and jumping rope, but I still was highly intimidated by the gym atmosphere.  Especially since some of the stuck up “hot guys” I worked with were always there.  I would buy a gym membership, go once at some ungodly hour and then cancel my membership when I couldn’t keep up with my 1 AM gym schedule.  When I would go the gym I kept to the machines I knew how to use, which was basically just the treadmill.  And don’t even get me started about the weight room.  Day or night, some guy I knew would be in there “pumping iron” while staring at himself in the mirror. 

Needless to say, after high school I wasn’t much of a gym person. I just wasn’t comfortable. I felt judged on my workouts, my fitness level and my ability to use the machines, which in turn became embarrassment and a lack of confidence.

After a lot of money and months of memberships, I finally left the gym opting for home workouts, running and swimming.  Jump forward several years and I’m comfortable working out in and out of the gym.  I’m confident of my workouts, I’m even brave enough to face the weight room.  In fact, it’s one of the first places I go.  

So, what happened?

You’re going to hate this answer because it’s obnoxious, but… CrossFit happened.

Yes, the workout with the cult-like following.

After being intimidated by the gym, why would I join CrossFit?

Honestly- peer pressure. While at college I had gotten pretty fit taking rescue and recreation classes, and my friends from those classes harassed me into going with them. It was even on the college campus so it was free. Eventually I didn’t really have a reason not to say ‘yes’ and I ended up going with them.

In CrossFit everyone works out together doing a WOD or “workout of the day”.  The group structure eliminated a lot of the pressure I felt going into a regular gym.  There also was just something different about the members.  They supported each other and cheered each other on to the very last person working out.

Now I’m confident in my ability to lift weights properly, create and scale my own workouts, and even know gym terminology.

 “So the point is go to CrossFit and your issues with gym intimidation will be cured, right?”

Surprisingly no.

I think the cure for being intimidated by the gym is being confident in the gym and figuring out what works for you.  Maybe that means hiring a personal trainer to give you some pointers and help you learn how to properly use equipment or maybe it’s taking classes, or maybe it’s joining CrossFit.

At the end of the day, you need to figure out what works for you and your body.

The process of doing that can be difficult and the temptation to let your insecurity get in the way of figuring it out is immense but try to work through it.

Here are some additional tips to find what works for you.

  • Know that you’re not alone at ALL.  Lots of people feel uncomfortable going to the gym.  Maybe you need to write yourself a note reminding yourself of this.  It sounds silly, but it can’t hurt.
  • Try different types of gyms before signing onto any sort of membership.  A lot of gyms will even let your first time be free.  If that’s not a possibility try to see if you can get a day pass or week pass.
  • Take a friend.  Not only is it easier to hold each other accountable, but a friend will help up your confidence.
  • Try a class and see how you like doing group workouts.
  • Find an instructor you resonate with.
  • Put together your workouts prior to your gym session. There are lots of websites that have daily workout sessions.  Or you can always check out Pinterest or Youtube.  Either print your workout, or use your notepad in your phone to write it down.
  • Lastly, focus on your goals.