According to a recent article Sixty-five percent of women avoid the gym altogether because of anxiety and fear of being judged. Not surprisingly in comparison, only 36 percent of men felt that way.
This doesn't shock me, because even though I’m a personal trainer and very confident on the gym floor, I am definitely not immune to gym anxiety.
I am a member of one of the bougiest gyms in New York City (if you live in NY you know who I am talking about). This gym attracts a certain type of clientele and most of the that clientele is men. It baffles me how many men just blatantly ogle at the girls at my gym and seem oblivious to the massive mirrors that are reflecting their stares.
I was doing deadlifts one morning and I kept noticing the guy behind me staring at my ass the whole time. After a few reps of this, he came over, tapped me on the shoulder and said “hey, I really like your vibe.” (insert eye roll emoji) He literally stood there smiling and staring at me. I’m pretty sure he was waiting for me to ask him to marry me after that beautiful line. Instead I said thanks and promptly put in my headphones and continued my workout. I watched him as he went around the gym, staring at other girls asses.
Now I know that not every male that goes to the gym is a creeper like this guy was, but all men do stare. I know it’s hard. There is a bunch of girls bending over, sweating and wearing ass hugging leggings, trust me, I get it. But when you are a girl coming out onto the weight floor and there is a group of guys staring at you, you can’t help but feel like a lamb heading to slaughter and it’s really annoying.
Women are there to workout just as much as the men are and we would like to do it in peace. I would love to see the men incorporate what women have perfected over many years, which is the quick gawk. So many men think women don’t check them out at the gym, this isn’t true, they just don’t notice it. Women can check out a hot guy with lightning speed and afterwards tell you every detail, including what shoes he was wearing. This is why the percentage of gym anxiety is so much lower with men, because women don't make them feel uncomfortable with long, obvious stares.
Now I know there are some women who do join a gym to try and find a potential partner and this is fine. But even the girls who come to the gym to do this could improve their confidence. I see the girls at my gym who are obviously there to attract a mate. They are fighting over mirror space, fussing over their makeup and hair before heading out there like it was some sort of Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
This upsets me for two reasons. The first is that in my opinion women look their most beautiful at the gym when they are fresh faced and make up free. Not to mention that exercise brings oxygen and nutrients to your skin, which gives you that healthy glow. The second reason is because working out with makeup is so bad for your skin. The sweat while you are working out gets trapped under your makeup and causes your skin to breakout and skin conditions to worsen. This over time will give you bad skin which you will want to cover with more makeup, it will make you more self conscious and the vicious cycle will continue.
I know you think you have to wear a lot of makeup to attract a guy, but the truth is most men prefer women without makeup and I don’t know about you, but I would much rather a guy approach me because he thinks I look beautiful naturally than with a ton of makeup. Plus if you do get a date with him, there will be more of a wow factor when you are all dolled up with a full face of makeup. So this week try going make up free at the gym.
If you are suffering from a chronic case of gym anxiety, I have some tips to help you deal with it.
Have a workout plan before you get to the gym
Most women hit the gym with no plan as to what they are going to do for the hour they are there. This makes you feel less confident as you are just aimlessly walking around the gym and you don’t know where to go or what to do next. By having a set program and a plan before you go, you will know exactly which machines to use and which areas to go to. You will feel so much more confident navigating around the gym.
2. Train with a personal trainer first
The best way to feel more secure at the gym is to be confident in knowing how to work out properly. A great trainer will show you proper form and set you up to be able to plan your own programs. I suggest hiring a personal trainer for the first time you plan on working out to give you a solid foundation for your training going forward. You will stop questioning your form and thinking everyone is judging you for it.
3. Pick a gym that is right for you
Most people make the mistake of joining up to gyms because they are prestigious or have a reputation. Then they walk in and are surrounded by instagram models, actresses and bodybuilders with six packs. They feel intimidated because they are not at that fitness level, so they leave and never come back.
I chose my gym beacuse it’s full of people around my age and at my fitness level, so I feel comfortable in that environment. If you are just starting out or you feel intimidated by super fit people, then find a gym where you do feel comfortable and where you feel inspired to work out. You will want to keep going back to that gym and best of all, because you are working out with like minded people, you will end up building a really nice fitness community of friends.
4. Get some new gym clothes
Now I am not telling you to go out and drop all your savings on lululemon, but updating your gym wardrobe can help with your confidence when working out. Not only will you want to workout because you look and feel great, but it will give you that little confidence boost when walking around the gym.
5. Hit the gym earlier
I hate being stared at when I’m working out, so I always go as soon as the gym opens, as there is less men and less people in general. I love it, I get to workout in peace before the crowd rolls in and it really is worth it. If you are suffering from gym anxiety, it may be because you are going at peak hours and it’s just too overcrowded.
I always encourage my clients to get up every morning earlier than usual anyway, as getting things accomplished while most people are still sleeping makes you feel amazing. Instead of sleeping in that extra hour, get up and head to the gym, you will not only avoid the crowds, but you will be so much more productive. For instance, I have already updated my website, answered client’s emails, read two chapters of a book, worked out for an hour, had breakfast, showered and got ready for the day and it’s only 9am. The saying, “there is never enough hours in the day” is total bs if you ask me. There are plenty of hours, most people are just sleeping them away.
It honestly breaks my heart to know that feeling self concious at the gym is stopping so many women from doing something that is so important for their bodies and brains. I hope some of these tips will boost your confidence to walk out onto that gym floor, because you belong there just as much as the boys.
Increasing your confidence at the gym will not only reduce your anxiety, but after a while you won’t even care about the boys staring, because you will know you are a strong, beautiful woman so who wouldn’t stare!