How to Build Gym Confidence

By Issy Goode - 21:02

I've been going to the gym since my second year of university but prior to that I'd never even set foot in a gym. Partially it was because I was too lazy to get off my arse and join one, and that I also didn't want to join one and waste my money by never going. Fortunately whilst at university I attended quite regularly. I try my hardest to go as often as possbile now that I'm in a full time job but in all honesty, my boyfriend and I just want the 3-4 hours we have together in the evening before going to bed to be spent relaxing. However, keeping motivation in a full time job is for another post!

My other reason for not attending the gym was my confidence. I've only really started to gain more confidence over the past few years in general. I've always been confident in certain situations or around certain people but being out of my comfort zone, like doing public speaking or being around completely new people, caused me to find myself going red in the face and shying away. And in that sense the gym was the same, it was out of my comfort zone and sometimes still is. 

When I personally see someone dedicated and well-sculpted I feel a little embarrassed to be around them and their rock-hard abs, but I've come to realise it's not them making me feel uncomfortable. It is in fact me making myself feel uncomfortable by deciding that they must be judging me.

So here are some tips that could help you build up your confidence in the gym:

Remember that everyone is there to work on themselves
I often felt like people were watching me whilst I was working out because I personally felt incredibly self-conscious. In some cases, people were staring in my direction. However, most of the time they weren't likely to be critiquing my form but more likely to simply be watching what exercise I was doing or watching to see when I was done with the machine they too wanted to use.

As an example, one evening at the gym I was doing some of Kayla Itsines' workouts which in my head sometimes do look a bit ridiculous but man do they work. Anyway, there was a middle-aged chap staring in my direction whilst I was doing an arm exercise and I just knew he was looking my way. I finished my set and sat up, at which point he instantly just asked me what muscle groups the exercise I was doing worked out. We got to talking and it turned out we had both studied Shotokan Karate - he was a 2nd dan, but had now retired from the sport and instead studied Aikido. He tried the exercise I had been doing and said it was a good one he'd use in the future. Whilst knowing that he was looking over at me made me feel extremely self-conscious, he was actually a really nice man to chat to and he also recommended some local clubs for me to look into as well. 

To be confident in a gym, you've got to remember that everyone is there to work on themselves, not to focus on what everyone else is doing.

Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident
If you like going in tight clothes, go in tight clothes. If you like wearing something baggy, go in something baggy. I wear various things to the gym and I do think sometimes I look a bit trampy and sometimes I look a bit too dolled up but at the end of the day, I'm not at the gym to be someone's eye candy or to impress anyone, as I said above, I'm there to work on myself.

Wearing make up is entirely your choice 
Now, I don't really like to promote wearing make up at the gym because I know, from experience, how bad the combination of sweat and foundation can be for keeping your skin clean. But, if I were to tell you not to do it, I'd be a hypocrite. I often go to the gym not long after getting home from work and I have plenty of time to scrub my make up off and go bare faced, but I choose not to. Personally, as I'm fairly pale exercise can get me from white as a sheet to a red-faced tomato in about 10 minutes, and it makes me feel very self-conscious. Whilst, yes, we're there to work on ourselves, I think you've got to feel confident in yourself at the same time too.

Go to the gym with a workout in mind 
It's hard to feel confident in the gym if you don't know what you're doing. I was terrified of using any of the weight machines at the gym until I asked my boyfriend to give me some lessons. Despite the instructions on the side I hated looking like an idiot not knowing how to use them. Once again, too worried about what other people were thinking! If you need help learning how to do or use something, don't be afraid to ask an instructor. They're not just paid to be PT's but also their to help people out in the gym.

Go with friends
If you feel self conscious in the gym alone, take your friends with you. That way you can bust out a workout routine together or go to a class. You could do what I do and go with my boyfriend, that way if I want to try out any weights I know he has, quite literally, got my back!

Listen to music
Personally, I find that the moment I put my earphones in I zone out completely from the people surrounding me. When I begin to feel uncomfortable I just put a song on that I know really gets me pumped and then my focus is back again! Set up a few playlists ready for your weekly workouts and don't listen to them outside of the gym, that way you can save them for your workout and feel all the more pumped when listening to the songs you like.

And lastly...Don't feel like you have to be in a gym to workout
It's easy to feel like attending a gym is a necessity to a healthy lifestyle but in my opinion, it's certainly not your only option. Personally, I prefer working out at home and I'd love to have the time and space to do home workouts at my boyfriend's family's house, but alas it is almost impossible to get that chance. If you don't feel like you have the confidence to be in the gym or you feel like home workouts may be the beginning of building that confidence, utilise the space you have and give it a go. Some people may never feel comfortable in a gym, it doesn't mean you can't work out too.

And as the evening's are getting lighter, utilise the outside too!
This was a beautiful summer afternoon last year at Rushcliffe Country Park. I love taking the opportunity to explore new places and get some exercise in to! If the gym's not for you, with trail and error you're bound to find something you enjoy, and somewhere to do it you feel comfortable in. 

Building gym confidence is a slow process, even now I don't like using certain machines I know I'm weak on particularly in front of men. You'll begin to build confidence in different areas, but it's still important to work on those weak points and the more you do a certain exercise the more both your muscles and confidence will grow! 

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  1. This is such a great post. When I'm on a fitness streak I love going to the gym but often my self-consciousness gets the better of me and I become too nervous to go, so thank you for this reminder! I really liked the story of the guy who asked about your exercise - it just goes to show that it's more of a supportive community than it can seem, since everyone - even professional bodybuilders - has to start somewhere!
    I hope life is sunny where you are :)

    1. Thank you! Exactly what I mean, it's easy to forget because people don't often chat to each other at the gym, as that's not what we're there for, but most of the experiences I've had when someone's made conversation have been pretty pleasant! I still get self-conscious from time to time but I take all of these things into account and try to get through it! :)
      I'm glad you found the post helpful!


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