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I like the gym. In fact, I LOVE going to the gym. I walk through the doors, and at my disposal are treadmills and ellipticals, weights, yoga mats, foam rollers, resistance bands, kettlebells and rock walls to climb. This fills me with such joy.
When I work out at the gym, I get to try out different classes—Spin, Pilates, BodyPump, Cardio Kickboxing, HIIT-training—you name it. There are so many classes to take, sandbags to lift, and those weird Cybex machines to try. And then afterwards, I can go to the pool and cool down after getting my workout on. The bliss!
But I get it. Some of us balk at doing our workout at the gym in front of actual people. Are you that someone who is a little bit (or a lot) intimidated and overwhelmed by the machines and people at your gym?
Does your inner monologue go something like this:
“I really want to go to the gym, but I don’t know how to use any of the machines.”
“This class looks interesting, but my Zumba skills are like Amy Mitchell’s in Bad Moms”
“I’m going to fall right off the treadmill like they do on TruTV.”
“I’m not in shape therefore I shouldn’t go to the gym. I’ll just get in shape in my musty basement.”
“I don’t wanna look like a clumsy fool, so I’m not even going to try.”
“Everyone’s going to stare at me.”
We’ve all been there. Some of my best fitness gains have happened at the gym. This is not to say that working out at home (which I do very often) has no value. But what if you wanted to dial it up just a bit and learn a new skill or exercise to add to your at-home regimen? What if you were tired of having to be careful not to kick your non-sleeping three-year-old in the face while you jammed out doing your TaeBo? True story.
Going to the gym has many advantages, but above all—and especially for people who are intimidated by the gym and all of its, er, accoutrements—it can not only bring you to another level of fitness, but it may actually help you achieve other things.
Confronting your negative self-talk head on is a good practice, not just for the gym—but for life.
I suggest practicing positive self-talk whenever a negative thought enters your mind, even if it feels unnatural. (Talking to yourself is awkward, but if you can past that, you’re golden!)
For example, when you say to yourself, “I don’t wanna look like a clumsy fool,” you might respond with “Okay, I am a clumsy fool, so what? I’m sure there are others out there feeling the same way, even if they act like they don’t. So let’s go!” I’m an expert at being a clumsy fool. In fact, I know that this is the stage I must go through whenever I try something new, like when trying to climb an indoor rock wall. Yeah, that. I’m still a clumsy fool, but I’ll wear that t-shirt proudly until I move on to the not-so-clumsy-fool stage.
Or you might respond to “I’m going to fall right off the treadmill like they do on TruTV,” with “Hmm—why am I watching so much TV anyway? Time to get my butt in gear! And, I know how to walk (or run) so I’m just going to start slowly. Better yet, I’ll even ask a gym employee to show me how to use it. I got this.”
Or, my all-time favorite “I’m not in shape therefore I shouldn’t go to the gym. I’ll just get in shape in my musty basement.”
Listen, if you want to stay in your basement, fine. But what fun is that when there are a thousand reasons why you could be at the gym, feeding off the positive, badass energy of others?
Confronting this and other negative thoughts requires some practice, though. You actually have to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are worth it, in this body right now, and that your health and fitness are more important that what YOU think others think of you. That YOU are worth the initial discomfort of walking into a space that you might feel was not designed for you. That YOU are worth feeling a bit clumsy. That YOU are worth looking like a newbie that first day. That YOU are worth everything it took to get you through that gym door.
It’s hard work. I get it. But it requires practice getting yourself to the door and then through it. Sometimes it’s hard to make yourself believe it. You might just be going through the motions or faking it ’til you make it. But you will make it. You will get yourself through the door, and on a machine or on the floor or in a class. You can do this. You got this!