The gym can be a daunting place.
The noise of iron clashing against iron, the machines more complex than calculus, the mirror loiterers, equipment hoarders and gym bros benching twice your bodyweight are enough to make even the most confident squat rack resident feel out of their comfort zone.
For many women, finding the inner strength, confidence and empowerment to set foot in the weight room is a daily challenge. For lifters in lockdown, returning to the gym and rediscovering your bodybuilding bravado can also be tough after months of home workouts (or couch side planks & fridge intervals)
But when it comes to resistance training, the benefits far outweigh the butterflies in the stomach, which is why we’ve listed some of our favourite tips & strategies for anyone who suffers from gym anxiety.
1. THE PROGRAM FOLLOWER
Having a program can take the guesswork out of the gym and weights room. Everything you need to do is right in front of you, helping you feel confident, calm and educated. It can also take away the most stressful part of being in the weights room - having to decide what exercises you want to do.
2. THE HEADPHONES ON, DISTRACTIONS OFF
Plug into your own music and play your favourite tunes. Sometimes music can be that perfect distraction, and keep you occupied as you go through your sets. It can also help with eliminating any external distractions, so all you need to focus on is your program. There’s also something super empowering about playing your favourite songs while you train, so don’t be afraid to motivate yourself and sweat to your favourite songs!
3. THE START SLOW, FINISH STRONG
If you’re new to the weights room, picking workouts that are advanced might only add to your overwhelmed feelings. There’s nothing wrong with taking it slowly and gradually building up to the level you want to reach.
4. THE STUDIED SWEAT
For a lot of people, the nerves of the weight room comes from not knowing how to perform certain movements. But if you’re clear on what is required, it can help keep those nerves under control. Whether it’s the night before or just before you leave to go to the gym, it can be beneficial to do some research and make sure you’re familiar with every movement in your program for that day.
5. THE OFF-PEAK LIFTER
If you’re still nervous about getting into the weights room, try training at times that are less busy. Popular times at the gym are usually a couple of hours before and after a normal 9-5 working day. If you’re able to go during the middle of the day or later at night, there’s a good chance that the gym crowds will have eased and you’ll have the squat rack to yourself!
6. THE LOOK GOOD FEEL GOOD
New activewear can be empowering. Wearing functional, flexible, lightweight activewear can give you the motivation & confidence you need, while also contributing to a next-level workout.
7. THE LIFT LIKE NOBODY’S WATCHING
For those of us that feel self conscious, going into the weights room can only amplify this. It’s important to note that people really aren't looking at you. Most of the time, everyone else in the gym is in their own world, working at their own pace. Most people are focusing on their own weights, their own program, and their own space.