You step into the gym and feel like all eyes are on you. The outfit you’re wearing, the exercises you’re doing, and even the sweat on the back of your shirt all add to the perception of judgement that feels very real. However, if you feel like this, there are vast differences between your perceptions and reality. Here are a few concepts to put your mind at ease.
When People Workout They are Thinking About “ME, ME, ME” not “YOU”
Many before you and those that currently surround you have started from the exact place you may be right now, with the same uncertainties and inexperience. The reality is, most people are just there to work out. They are focused on their personal goals and routines and worried about their own technique and performance. Some may be checking their gains in the mirror or capturing it with a “selfie”. They are undoubtedly more concerned about themselves than of you.
The gym culture is not a competition
Despite what your perceptions may be, gym communities are typically more about kinship and support rather than judgement. Understanding that you are surrounded by others working towards THEIR specific goals, even if they’re different than your own, should be a source of inspiration rather than something to fear.
But I don’t Know What I am doing
Don’t be afraid to seek help and use the services available to you. Having a plan in place for each gym visit can increase your confidence and comfort level. Consulting with a personal trainer to determine a routine that is suitable for your goals and fitness level can set you up for success and take the guess work out of your gym visits. If attending a group fitness class for the first time, show up early and tell the instructor you’re new. This will provide them with the opportunity to give you an overview of the class and assist you in getting set up with any equipment you will need. You will be instructed and encouraged from warm up to cool down – all in the company of other members.
Bring a Friend
Once you learn and experience the services available to you, attend with a family member or friend. How often have you ever gone to the movies or a bar by yourself (no, not you Charlie Sheen)? Having a support person to share your journey with can make it more comfortable and enjoyable.
Feeling Self-conscious About Your Appearance or Fitness Level
When others judge you it is typically a result of their personal insecurities. Knowing then, that their judgement comes from such a silly place should make it less credible to you – why do you care what they think of you, when they likely think even less about themselves. Once you are able to let go of the fear of others judgements, it goes a long way towards letting go of the judgements you make about yourself.
Contrary to what we are made to believe, “healthy” is a lifestyle rather than just a look. Focus on the positive lifestyle changes (improved sleep, increases in energy and strength, etc.) you will experience as part of a consistent routine. They can reaffirm your decision to be active.
Eyes on your own nutritional choices and eyes on your own treadmill, mat and/or weights can help YOU focus on the changes that are important to YOU and the progress that YOU are making.
Discomfort is Part of the Game
It’s important to understand that discomfort is part of changing your self-perception and overcoming what judgement you may be fearful of. You need to accept that this discomfort will exist, and ultimately, power through it.
YOU DO YOU! and leave the worry at the door! YOU are enough, just as YOU are right now and deserve to be at the gym bettering YOURself – just like everyone else.