The idea of getting fit always brings on a series of nightmares; it’s like a choir of bodybuilders are chanting “you don’t make friends with salad” haunt me in my dreams until a large iceberg lettuce swallows me whole and I wake up from my nightmares and gasp for air. The words “go to the gym you unfit piece of *poo emoji*” is written across my walls in whipped cream and strawberries.
If you’re like me and have a low self-esteem, high strung anxiety, and a keg instead of a six pack, we have more than enough in common for me to open up the conversation about my own experiences of going to train at my local gym. Everyone starts off wanting to go to a gym to either lose weight, put on muscle, or just to get fitter than they were yesterday; I always wanted to go to the gym so I could get fit and get a boyfriend for my lonely ass. Fortunately, I digress here.
When I first started going to the gym I found it “icky” and could feel all of these eyes on me, judging my every move about how much I was lifting, how fast I was running, how quickly I could eat that 6-pack of nuggets and down a sprite before my next set; you know, the usual. Jokes aside, I found it extremely hard to fit into such an environment, as well as my Nike shorts. When I first started the whole experience felt like a hotbed of toxicity, self-doubt and intimidation. These huge, fit, attractive guys would be going at it next to me and I literally had no clue how to lift or what I was even doing at a gym in the first place. It made me re-think my whole philosophy on getting fit, blow off my exercising new year’s resolution for the fourth time, and I let myself make excuses about going because I was afraid of what people would think of me. The thing is, I struggled with my confidence which ultimately left me frightened at the thought of going alone which is why I started at a new gym with my mum and sister.
Before the accusations of me going to a women’s gym or me going with my mum and sister being an unhealthy relationship, let me tell you it was the best thing I ever fucking did. By going with someone who I trusted, I had a support network to help me through learning about my body, diet and even the environment that I was working out in. It really helped that their gym focused on the social aspect of training and getting to know everyone around you in classes, and introduced regular training or challenges that you could take on with your peers. It reduced my thoughts and fears of caring what others think because they’re in the same boat as me and we’re all friendly people.
So many gyms take this aspect of a social excising group for granted but it is so rewarding for people who are shy or nervous about going to the gym. I found it hard in my first few weeks at this gym with my family, but once I became assimilated into it, I just became a brand-new person. My confidence is up, my anxiety in gym environments is reduced, and I’m getting a lot fitter. It also gave me the drive to go and exercise in a hotel gym when I went on holidays recently (even though I had a mini panic attack and tried to go when no-one else was there; regardless, it is progress in my mind).
If I can attribute anything to my experience of getting over my fear is to train with people you trust first and then smash it out by yourself and reap the rewards; it makes it so much easier to be comfortable with yourself when you have others supporting you. Being in a supportive environment should be the first step in your fitness journey which is a concept that gets misconstrued by a lot of gyms which aim for results over a relationship with their clients. Also, finding the gym that is right for your personality and suits your goals is extremely important. Overall, just be happy that you’re even making an effort and work on it each time you enter those doors; it really is mind over matter! Now, BRB, I’m going to go kill myself on an assault bike for 10 minutes.