Active Lifestyles: You can conquer gymtimidation

Hayley Blackburn

I know that it is very intimidating and difficult to crawl out from under the safety blanket of isolation – I am talking about you, living room Pilates video – and head into the jungle that is the gym. During my first visits, I power-walked (basically ran) past the iron-pumping giants in the free weight area. There was no way I would ever end up lifting a dumbbell. After making it past the meat-heads, I had to navigate through a maze of machines with girls way more fit than I working their legs and arms. The adorable, tiny spandex showed off their muffin-top-less hips and their tank tops accentuated tone arms. There was no way I would ever be caught standing next to them. The spiral of self-doubt and self-consciousness continued as I circled the gym floor, looking for an elliptical so I could just do my 20 minutes and get out.

I felt like my baggy t-shirt and shorts screamed to the world how much I didn’t belong in the gym; I was sure everyone could see the jiggle I was hiding and was judging me. Nobody was. Nobody cares.

I feel so silly when I look back on those times when I succumbed to gymtimidation, the fear of people farther along in their fitness journey than you, and did not work out the way I wanted and needed. The thing about the gym is, everyone is there to improve on themselves. I finally realized that everyone is more focused on their own body than mine. Everyone is trying to sweat, build muscle and get out– just like me. Gymtimidation is just imagination and insecurities taking over. This is just an excuse not to get in there and work your ass off because you might look silly. Forget about that and think about the following things instead.


3 things to remember when heading to the gym

You are there to do you

Don’t try to mimic someone else because they might be chasing a different goal. Do what feels good for you, what helps your body become healthier, and what you enjoy.

Most gyms have trainers waiting to help you

When I signed up at Miramont, they provided a complimentary training session to help get me started on the equipment. The staff is there to help you, even if you just have a question about how the machine works. Don’t be afraid to get a little help to keep yourself safe. Pride is not worth pain.

Every single person in that gym started somewhere

Every single person had to walk into the gym for the first time and was a little nervous when they started. You are not an anomaly or the only person intimidated. Every person starts at a different point, but everyone had to make a choice to begin their active lifestyle. This is why no one is judging you – we have all been there before.

As long as you are trying your best, you rack your weights, you don’t steal any machines and you don’t stare at other people– you are going to be just fine. Welcome to the gym. The meat heads are some of the nicest people I know because I finally picked up a dumbbell. I look great in my own tiny spandex and tank tops and my days of hiding on the elliptical are long gone. You will get there too. This week I challenge you to complete one 30 minute workout in the gym.

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In a year, I conquered my gymtimidation and began lifting weights. The difference speaks for itself. (Hayley Blackburn | Collegian)


Collegian writer Hayley Blackburn can be reached at or on Twitter @hayley_blckbrn. If you have a specific question or topic, let her know. Leave a comment!