New Year, New You! The holidays have come and gone and now it’s time to get back on track with your fitness goals. Was your resolution to drop a few pounds, gain some muscles? It’s not as easy as it sounds to just go workout at the gym.
I look around the weight room and notice I’m usually the only female in sight. I count 27 males to 1 female ratio. I’m not talking about the cardio equipment upstairs/next door/ or in the other room I’m talking about the weight room where all the magic happens. Why aren’t there more women in the weight room? I don’t get it.
I look around at all the men grunting, sweating, talking smack, or just minding their own business and it’s no wonder why women don’t go in the weight room. For starters, sometimes it’s smelly. The rusted iron, huge plates, benches, and 100 lb dumbbells are perhaps even more intimidating. These machines don’t come with instructions on the side or a place for your water bottle. It’s a free for all to grab a bench or spot in front of the mirror.
I’ll be the first to admit, I use to be intimidated by the big gyms and bodybuilders myself. I started lifting weights with a friend at a gym in the building I worked at. I later joined an all women’s gym where I got to meet personal trainers who taught me how to use the equipment. When that gym closed its doors for good I was left with no choice but to join the locally owned bro style gym. I didn’t do it alone, I had friends join me in this journey. After several months of taking new classes, lifting weights, and getting to know the staff I finally felt like I was home.
As a female, we shouldn’t feel intimidated by a gym, we should be able to work out, lift weights, and hang in the gym just like any other bro, am I right? I hear so many friends and family members tell me that they are scared to go into the gym. They don’t know how to use the equipment, they think men are “watching them” and they just aren’t comfortable. I’ve had friends tell me that they are worried they will get “hit on” at the gym. Really? Most men I know who go to the gym go to get some SERIOUS GAINZ and not a girlfriend (but I have gotten hit on a few times and it’s not only really uncomfortable but also really funny and makes for some good banter later on). I think we as women need to get over ourselves and do something good for us and get in that weight room.
How did I get over this “fear” and become more confident in the gym…
I picked a gym that I felt comfortable with. I was comfortable with the prices, the classes, the machines, and the cleanliness. I make sure the gym I’m a member of has Spinning because I love to spin. I originally signed up for a single-sex gym so I wouldn’t have to deal with the bros. You need to find a gym that fits your needs.
Dress the part. Going to the gym is just like everyday life: if you feel like you look good, you’ll feel better and more confident. Pick clothes you are comfortable in. If you feel comfortable in shorts and a crop top rock it. If you are more of an oversized t-shirt and leggings kind of person go with that. If you feel uncomfortable you’ll look uncomfortable and you won’t have the confidence you need to step into the male-dominated weight room.
Ask a trainer or a professional to show you around. Most gyms offer a free first-time complimentary consultation to show you how to use the equipment. If you really want to brave the gym floor consider signing up for one or two personal training sessions. The trainer can help you evaluate your needs and the best workouts for you. They can also help come up with a weekly schedule or workout plant that would fit your needs and schedule. Using the machines correctly is one of the most important parts of working out. Avoid injuries with a consultation on proper form.
Avoid peak hours of the day. If you aren’t comfortable dealing with the crowds and the overuse machines try going earlier in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the high traffic times.
Create a playlist with your favorite songs. This will not only motivate you but will also drown out the bromances occurring all around you.
Go in with a plan. If you have a pre-planned workout of what movements you want to do you won’t feel lost and you won’t have time to feel uncomfortable. I personally use the app fitlist (it’s free) and you can plan out your workouts and track everything on your phone. I walk in the gym with a plan so I don’t feel lost, overwhelmed, and unsure.
Take a class. Taking some sort of body sculpt class will help you find movements and uses for dumbbells. Take notes of what the class has you do so you can do it yourself outside of the class in the weight room. For me, this is how I really started to become more familiar with lifting weights. I couldn’t afford a personal trainer and the classes were fun so I just took classes to figure out what I could do out on the gym floor. The best thing about these classes is the movements can be done almost anywhere with little to no equipment. if you are at the gym during peak hours you’ll have some tools in your tool belt to know what movements you can do in little space and with the least amount of equipment.
Bring a friend or ask for help. Make friends at the gym by asking for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, I do it all the time. I will admit the first time I had to ask for a spot was TERRIFYING. I found out, almost everyone I’ve asked was nothing but supportive and super excited to help me reach my goals. Not to mention, the one thing people who work out love to do other than working out is talking about working out. I’ve made friends with the powerlifters, the seniors, the trainers, and the bros by asking for help or just saying hi to them. I’m sure anyone who looks like they know what they are doing would be more than happy to give advice. Just do them a favor and ask them after their set.
Don’t forget, everyone has to start somewhere. Do you think the guy benching 500lbs started at that point, based on his size maybe he did? Just kidding! Everyone has to put in the work. Don’t compare yourself to others and remember why you started. Keep your eye on the prize and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sooner or later the gym will be YOUR space and you won’t even remember why you were uncomfortable in the first place.
People at the gym are there to workout. People don’t go to the gym to make fun of everyone who doesn’t know what they are doing (I only point out the people who don’t put away their equipment). We aren’t there to judge. Everyone wants a great workout so make the most of it, walk-in with your head held high, stay positive, and get ready to DEMOLISH your workout. Who knows, you might actually make some new friends. So let’s make a pact to go to the weight room and lift with confidence. Let’s make 2020 the year of heavyweights, more females in the weight room, and more gianz.
THE FUTURE IS FEMALE! Happy Lifting!
If this guy can be confident wearing short shorts in the gym so can I!