You’ve got this new fitness program and you’re SO excited to begin your journey to a fitter and stronger you. You’ve bought cute new activewear, stocked up on protein powder and have even made a new gym tunes playlist in anticipation of your first session. But then, you rock up to the gym and realised that all the equipment you need is in that scary area. You know the one—it’s filled with strange looking machines, big boy weights and sweaty, ‘swole’ dudes. They call it the weights room, but they may as well call it the bro zone. You feel like everyone’s looking at you, so you panic and retreat back to your usual treadmill, or the 2kg weights they keep on the other side of the gym.
Sound familiar? Yep, the weights room gym-timidation is real—especially if you’re new to training. That said, lifting heavy weights is definitely a worthwhile activity as it’s the most effective way to gain lean muscle, lose body fat and become stronger. And given most of us don’t have access to a plethora of dumbbells and barbells at home, the gym is easily the most convenient place to do it. The good news is, with these 6 simple tips you can overcome your fear and become queen of the weights room.
Go at off-peak times
It’s always going to be more intimidating hitting the weights room when it’s absolutely packed. Not only are you more likely to feel self-conscious if there are more people around, but it can be harder to locate the equipment you need. Plus, it’s harder to find a space of your own you can work out in without other people invading your personal bubble. At least when you first start training, it’s worth trying to get to the gym at less crowded times, so you can build up your confidence. Early in the morning (we’re talking pre 6am) is usually a safe bet, as is early or late afternoon (around 11am or 2pm) if you can take your lunch break then.
One great way to overcome your fear of the weights room is to find a like-minded pal who can accompany you to the gym. Bonus points if they’ve been going for a while, so know how it all works! Not only will buddying up make your gym experience more fun and less intimidating, but you can keep each other accountable when it comes to sticking to your fitness goals.
Join a women’s only gym
No, we’re not saying men are the problem. However, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t find all the testosterone-driven grunting and flexing a little off-putting. Plus, we can all feel a little self-conscious wearing our lycra leggings or doing hip thrusts in front of the opposite sex (do. not. make. eye. contact!) Thankfully, there are a growing number of women’s only gyms popping up around the globe, and they offer more than just pilates, yoga classes and body pump. Here in Australia, we have chains like Curves and Fernwood Fitness, as well as small group training boutique gyms like Zadi and Women Of Treign.
Pump the tunes
If like me, your biggest fear of the weights room is some burly dude coming up to you and saying “Hey, maybe I can help you do that exercise better” (an actual thing that happened to me the other day) there is a simple solution. Get yourself some F-off huge Bluetooth headphones: the internationally-recognised signal for “Do. Not. Talk. To. Me” Pair these with an awesome, pump-up playlist and it’s going to be much easier to zone out from your surroundings and stay focused on what you’re doing without worrying about what anyone else is thinking.
For many women, weights room intimidation stems from fear of looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. While there are heaps of apps and videos out there now that demonstrate how to do exercises, it can also be worth booking in a session or two with a personal trainer so they can run you through your technique. Many gyms offer a free session with a PT as part of your membership. This will also help reduce your risk of injury—especially when it comes to using the weights machines. Once you know that you’re doing everything properly, you’ll feel far more confident stepping into the weights room solo.
Yes, this can be easier said than done. But you’re far more likely to attract attention in the weights room if you look lost, hesitant or confused. So, using the above tips to help you, stride into the weights room like Beyonce in the Lose My Breath video clips AKA like you own the damn place. As one of our fave fitness YouTubers, Sarah’s Day says, “Act confident and nobody will question you.”