I have a girlfriend who is preparing for a marathon. She’s been working hard, both inside of the kitchen and inside of the gym, to get in her best shape. Every day she wakes up early or waits until she has returned from work and gets moving. But one place she hasn’t moved towards is the weight room in the gym. It’s a shame because strength training is something that could really help her when it comes to training and conditioning.
Her critique of that section of the gym is a common one: There are too many men who she worries will either make her feel like a piece of meat when picks up a weight, or worse, will make her feel as though she doesn’t belong there. What she says doesn’t shock me considering many women and even men feel that way when it comes to the weight room. To be honest, it can feel like you entered the wrong place and that you’re in the way, but when you’re on a fitness journey, pretty much every stage feels like that. If you want to get into a new cardio class, you tend to overcritique yourself and think everyone is staring at the missteps you make. If you want to try running, you assume that your form is terrible and you’re moving in slow motion when compared to everyone else. And yes, if you want to pick up some weights and do some strength training, you’re concerned that your weights are measly and that you’re not cut out for the weight room.
It can all be overwhelming, indeed. But here’s some advice to keep in mind so you don’t let all of that hold you back.
Go in With a Plan
Don’t just walk into a weight room or section, pick up a set of dumbbells and start standing around dumbfounded about what to do with them. I’m a big fan of going into the gym, in general, with a plan so that I don’t waste too much time. So before you go, do yourself a favor and figure out what you want to work on specifically, and look up at least three to five moves you can do in sets with those weights. When you have a game plan, you will be less likely to worry about other people.
Get Out of Your Head
If you spend a lot of time thinking that everyone is talking sh-t about the way you’re doing your moves or the fact that you even entered the weight room, the more you are going to psych yourself out. Next thing you know, you’ll be telling people you don’t weight train because of how everyone treated you that “one time,” when you know good and well no one said a word to you. With all things new there is the worry that we are making fools of ourselves. But if we let those thoughts hinder us from getting in our workouts, the less progress we’ll make and the more time we’ll waste.
Pump Your Jams
Allow your music to be your hype man. Put on your headphones, turn up the bass and get into a zone. I often like to do certain moves to a beat, as it can be a challenge. But whatever you listen to while weight training, whether trap or house music, let it get you pumped up and focused on the task at hand — not the people around you.
Don’t Let People Intimidate You
If you find a spot in the section where you can see yourself in the mirror and you feel good, don’t let someone step right in front of you. Don’t let someone take your weights when you step away to get wet wipes. What I’m saying is, don’t let people make you uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean you have to curse anyone out, but it does mean that you need to find a way to politely speak up if you feel your space is being invaded or if someone has accidentally gotten in your way.
Exercise shouldn’t always feel like a chore. The more fun you have with it, the more likely you are to miss the gym when you can’t make it on certain days. If you go into your workout pumped at the gains you know you will obtain from your strength training workout, you won’t feel like you’re entering such a serious space that you don’t fit into. Pat yourself on the back when you get through with that increased number of reps or those deadlifts. Get some enjoyment out of your gym activities — strength training included.
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