I am always astounded by the number of people who tell me that they would never go to the gym alone. If you, too, are afraid or self-conscious about hitting the gym solo, I hope this post will help change your outlook.
The most important thing to remember is that no one is judging you at the gym except for you!
First, identify the reason for your anxiety about working out/attending the gym by yourself. Many people are self-conscious about their size. Some feel inadequate when it comes to their physical strength. Still, more folks are traumatized by the fact that they do not have ripped muscles and 6-pack abs like those glistening body models in T.V. infomercials. Others simply are too afraid to enter a space filled with strangers and engage in a very public display of physicality without a work-out buddy they already know by their side. And, believe it or not, people have told me that they do not feel comfortable going to the gym without a buddy because they do not have attire that is cool or cute enough to wear while working out. This last excuse is silly. However, if hot new gear boosts your confidence enough to get you to the gym solo, then go for it!
This post is not meant to belittle your fears but, rather, to offer up a more positive outlook about taking care of yourself. Remember the following:
People who go to the gym already may something(s) in common with you. Many go to lose weight or increase muscle mass or tone-up their bodies or improve their balance or reduce blood pressure and cholesterol or practice some physical therapy after an injury or engage in pre-natal/post-natal exercise or release stress. See? You are NOT alone!
Most people at the gym are happily zoned-out or tuned-out underneath their ear buds and head phones and focused on their own issues. So, they are not paying any attention to you, what you are wearing or how your body looks. RELAX! Just take a good look around at all those people sweating it out on treadmills, elliptical machines, stair climbers and weight machines. If any of them are looking at you, maybe it’s because they think you are attractive or you inspire them in some way or they actually dig what you are wearing. Feel better yet? No? Need more incentive? O.K., here’s more.
I have already established that the gym is a place where like-minded (read: health-focused) people gather to achieve their individual health goals. In fact, it has been my experience that whether I use cardio machines, weight machines or attend group fitness classes like spin class, Pilates, etc., I often see some of the same people over and over again. Recognition, an occasional “hello” and more frequent conversations have been built over time. This is especially true in group fitness classes where people become regulars.
I am especially inspired by people who are in their 70s and 80s who regularly get their solo butts to the gym. It makes me feel like a slacker if I don’t go 🙂
Also, I have found the physical trainers at my gym (shout out to FFC South Loop in Chicago) are always watching out for you and they are willing to answer questions about use of machinery and proper form, even if you have not scheduled a training session with them. There have also been times when another gym member helped show me how to use a machine (although you should really rely on a staff member).
And, don’t underestimate chatting with people post work-out at the snack counter or in the locker room. After a work-out, people tend to be more friendly and open to conversation about the class you just took together, the weather and just about anything. Must be all of those newly released endorphins 🙂
Oh, and on the very outside chance that a leotard-wearing diva doing lunges while sporting a full face of make-up rolls her snarky eyeball at you or some pumped-up, “juice head” with no neck shamelessly flaunts his bulging ape-like gait in your direction, do this: Smile and wave, you beautiful thing. Smile and wave.
Enough with the pep talk, I have to get ready for spin class…solo!
ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.