So many people (arguably, most people!) are super intimidated when they first join a gym. There is the fear of judgment, the fear of not “belonging”, the fear that you are the only person in there who doesn’t have a clue where to begin!
The simplest way to say this is… people are at the gym to work on themselves. This means, therefore, that they are highly unlikely to be paying attention to you and what you are doing.
Sure, there is no escaping the fact that there are some very judgmental people in the world. There are mean people everywhere.
Something pretty cool to bear in mind though, is that if there is one person who is blatantly focusing their energy/judgment on you and your workout… then they’re not focusing that attention on themselves and so more fool them.
Still not reassured?
Quite often, our feelings of being ‘judged’ are totally wrong. That guy that you just caught watching your entire set? He might be thinking “oh, I really ought to get a set of military press in myself”. He might be thinking “hmm, I’ve not seen this guy here before”.
You will not know for sure what is going through their minds unless they explicitly tell you that they have been watching you, and judging you. This is unlikely to happen. So do try to avoid assuming that you know what they are thinking!
Feeling like you don’t belong
Starting at a new gym can sometimes feel like the first day of school. Everyone already knows each other – you are the outsider. There are smaller groups of friends and there is this crushing feeling that you just don’t fit in.
The main solution to overcoming this feeling is time and consistency.
Research on anxiety suggests that comfort rises with familiarity. The more consistent you are with going to the gym, the more confident and comfortable you are likely to feel in your surroundings.
It can help to make an effort with the gym-goers – a simple “good evening” or a smile can go a long way.
Where to begin
If you’re new to the gym, researching a structured ‘plan’ before heading into the gym can really help give you some direction.
There are so many workouts/structures that are centered on different goals – e.g. muscle building, fat loss, sport-specific strength.
You can prepare yourself fully with this new plan by searching on YouTube for each specific exercise, reading reviews/comments on your program of choice, and/or talking to people who might have done a similar workout to what you’ve chosen.
Of course, not all the information on the internet is worth following but when you are just starting out at the gym and need a place to start this is an accessible and easy catalyst to finding your way.
Deep breaths. Be consistent. Be prepared. Be friendly. You’ve got this.