9 Ways to Battle Gym-timidation and Feel Like a Badass

Like walking into the meat market.  Butt Naked.  

I was 17 years old and recently graduated from high school.  I didn't know much about fitness, but getting my behind in gear and adding that little barcode to my stack of keys seemed like a step in the right direction.  Of course, step one was easy.   My next encounter with the gym would be much scarier.  I didn't recognize any faces, the equipment was foreign to me and I couldn't afford to hire a personal trainer.  Yikes.  

Many years and muscles later, those jitters still creep up from time to time.   While some of the more seasoned folks have forgotten what it's like to feel gym-timidated, not all of us have!  Here are a few tips I’ve gathered throughout the years that keep me motivated and going back for more.    

Practice the exercises at home.  This requires a little research, but it's worth it.  Find an informative and reputable site and get some insight as far as targeting specific muscle groups, proper form and injury prevention.  Personally, not knowing proper body mechanics was the scariest part!  Back in the day I didn't have access to all the resources we currently have available.  I would just look around for someone who appeared to know what they were doing, then I copy them to a tee.  Today, there isn’t any excuse.  Fitness has blown up and is in "yo" face all the time.  Find it, research it, practice it at and perform it at the gym.  

Have a backup plan for your initial action plan.  As important as it is to have a thought-out routine for your session, it’s also important to think of an alternative plan.  Why?  Well, today was going to be chest day but you only know a few exercises and the machines you want are taken.  Now what?  Lacking  proper preparation will increase your level of insecurity and could potentially send you back home.  Been there, done that.  Don't limit yourself to one specific workout.  An alternative plan will increase the likelihood of having a fruitful workout in the event that things don't go the way you planned.  That falls under the “lemons out of lemonade” umbrella.

Choose the right time of the day to pump it out.  Do you remember a time you tried working out at 6pm and found yourself in Meathead-landia?  Ugh, me too.  I hated life. I couldn't get to ANY of the spots and every single cardio machine was occupied.  Here's the scoop: The earlier and later hours of the day are the busiest.  Dedicated members try to get their workouts in between 6-10 am and then again between 5-8 pm.  These hours vary from gym to gym, but we're speaking in general.  Once you're all set with your membership, you should inquire as to what the heavy traffic hours are and AVOID them at all costs.  Planning your gym sesh around the better hours will allow you to get to know your gym, take your time exercising and single out some of the areas you’re keen on targeting.  I'm usually there in the mornings.  Say hello if you ever see me!  :)

Play that funky music.  And by funky, I mean music that instantly clicks with you and makes you feel energized!  I love reggae with all of my heart.  There’s nothing I want more in the whole world than to be a soul rebel and watch the 3 little birds outside of my window every single day, but at the gym, that’s not going to cut it.  Create a playlist of your favorite upbeat songs and get yourself pumped!  

Plan your outfits ahead of time.  I don’t know what it is, but separating my little tops and bottoms makes me so happy!  It’s one less thing to worry about in the morning and a total time saver.  Choose articles that may you feel incredible and stuff you'll happily wear over and over.  Anything from a headband to a special pair of sneaks will do the trick.  I won't encourage you to go out and spend $500 unless you’re fully committed, but a few inexpensive pieces to start off wouldn’t hurt. Women really do find any excuse, don’t we?  

Be friendly.  This isn't a stretch for me, but I can understand that for some of you it can be.  Do your best to surpass this.  As you get to know of your fellow gym members, you will feel more inclined to attend regularly and feed off each other’s energies.  Not only will you build friendships over time,  but you won't feel weird  about asking the person next to you for a spot when you're trying to hit that PR.  Whether you know names or not, you'll start to feel like part of the #fitfam.  The more you show your face, the better.  

Bring a wing(wo)man, if you need one.  This is a great idea!  The key is to make sure whomever you bring along means business and wants to work as hard as you otherwise, it's time poorly spent.  Having a buddy is awesome when you're just getting started.  I love working out alone since I love blasting the music in my ears, but my gym buds (aka husband or gym friends) have helped me hit some serious numbers when it comes to personal goals.  Find a good buddy and never let them go.  

Remember, they aren’t looking at you.  Oh hi!  How's it going up there on cloud 9?  You know cloud 9; where you think all the guys/girls are staring at you thru the mirror.  The nerve of them!  NEWSFLASH:  They aren't looking at you.  Chances are, they are so focused on their own physique and their upcoming competition, that you've caught them "looking” at their own reflection.  Get back to work!  Time is muscle!

Ask for help.  If there's one thing you should take from this article, it’s that you shouldn't be afraid to ask for assistance.  Read the directions thoroughly if you're not familiar with the equipment you're about to use!  If you still don't get it, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Bad form and a sense of ego are a bad combo for someone starting out.  One bad movement could lead to days of stiffness, pain, and in some cases, permanent damage.  My intention isn't to scare you.  I want everyone to have guns and a squat booty.  It’s important to be cognizant of the way the equipment works and clarify when necessary.  I guarantee that there will ALWAYS be someone willing to lend a helping hand.  

Being a newbie or starting back up is hard!  Even with proper guidance, the initial period can be frustrating.  Especially when you start comparing your progress to those who have been doing it for years.  It's not likely that you'll look or feel the way you want to be in just a few weeks.  Being consistent and having a good attitude will go a long way.  Set personal goals, which are reasonably attainable.  Stay focused on achieving these goals and don’t get discouraged by the lofty goals set by others.  These tips are geared towards getting your butt up and continuing to do it.  Ultimately, your truest motivator should be increasing your quality of life.  Keep doing right by your body and in due time, your body will do right by you