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How I Overcome Gym Intimidation

It’s still hard sometimes. As a matter of fact, I’ve been meaning to visit a spin studio that I’ve never visited before. I booked a spot in class through ClassPass* then canceled my reservation the day before because I was a little intimidated. However, I’m proud to say that I have made a lot of progress in overcoming my fear of group fitness classes and unfamiliar gyms. Let me explain.

Gym intimidation is real. As a matter of fact, any place where you feel out of place makes you not want to go to that place at all.

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I began my fitness journey at home. In past years I always worked out at home. Or maybe I went walking around the neighborhood. I had exercise DVDs. When I lived in an apartment complex with an onsite gym, I visited that gym once. I didn’t see the gym as a fun place and I was not motivated to continue going. I felt like I did best when I took walks and followed the DVDs in my living room. As much as I enjoyed how I felt after a good workout, the stresses of life would interfere with my motivation to continue. I hadn’t fully committed to being better. I wanted to join classes and try new things, but I didn’t want to feel like I couldn’t keep up with everyone else. I didn’t like the feeling of being bigger than everyone else. I didn’t have (really, I just didn’t make) a budget for a membership to anything that would be healthy for me. So, I stayed at home.

Do it afraid.

When I finally mustered up the nerve to go to a group fitness event, it was a boot camp. The biggest motivating factor was that a really good friend of mine who is a personal trainer and was my trainer at the time was one of the instructors leading it. I remember sitting in my car with my nerves borderline out of control, just waiting until the last minute to get out and join the other participants. Literally the last minute.

I was pleasantly surprised to see another plus-sized person there. I think I was the only brown-skinned person, which also intimidated me a bit. But I stayed.

Bootcamp kicked my behind. There were a lot of exercises that I had a hard time with. However, since I had made the trip to be there, I told myself I had no choice but to stay. It was only 45 minutes of my life. Forty-five hard minutes. But I lived.

Keep going.

I worked up enough nerve to go to my first spin class about a week after that boot camp. Again, I sat in my car until 6:28. Class started at 6:30. I chose to sit on the bike at the back of the room closest to the door, just in case I needed to make a run for it. My legs were killing me afterward. I couldn’t do a lot of the moves that the rest of the class could do. But I felt good. I knew my body was capable of more and I had conquered a fear. I kept going back. Always on the bike in the back of the room next to the door.

Mind your own bike/pole.

That first spin class taught me a lot and broke down a lot of barriers for me. It was probably the best choice for me to get over my fear of group classes and gyms. In every spin class I have been in, it is dark and the music is loud. Maybe somebody is looking at me, but for the most part, everybody is focused on their own bike. As I progressed through each class, I focused more on making it through the workout and less on the fact that I don’t pedal at the same speed as everyone else and that there are some moves that I have to modify so that I can do them.

Eventually, I made my way to a pole fitness class because I had been wanting to try it for a very long time. It truly takes a lot of hard work, skill, and fitness to be able to dance on a pole and look good doing it. I can spend another entire post going over some of the life lessons I have learned from pole fitness and Sexify, however, one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned to just focus on what I am doing. During one class, as the instructor was teaching us new choreography, I kept looking around at other students for validation and guidance that what I was doing was right. It was doing me more harm than good because one person moved ahead of the music and the other person was a few beats behind. It took me recording myself during class one day to see exactly what I was doing, but once I stopped looking at everyone else, following the directions that were given to me, and literally moving to the beat of my own music, my dance looked and felt much better.

It’s “me time.”

Anytime I exercise now I don’t consider it a chore. It’s not something that I need additional incentive to do.  I feel good when I do it. For thirty minutes to an hour, I’m focused on me and only me. I’m doing something that makes me feel like I’m on top of the world. I feel accomplished. Nobody else matters for that short period of time. Notice how many times I say “me” or “I” during this article? That’s because my exercise is about me! The same way your exercise habits should be about you.

But at the beginning, you said that you still struggle with gym intimidation. True enough, I have been procrastinating with the new spin studio. I have visited others but I still haven’t found one to call home yet. Anytime I try something new I get a case of the jitters. Those thoughts flow through my mind like, “Am I going to be the only one who looks like me?” “Are people going to be looking at me? Judging me?” “Are people going to be rude to me?” The answers to most of those questions are probably “Yes” to some degree. However, I eventually decide that those nerves are not going to get the better of me and stop me from having a good workout. Not to mention that there probably aren’t as many people looking at me as I might like to think sometimes.

That post-workout high is a real thing for me, so when I miss it, I’m not happy at all, especially since it is a healthy high. So, it all comes down to decisions. Am I going to let what other people may or may not be thinking or a new environment stop me from living a healthy life? Not a chance.

My best friend said to me, “If you can take a pole dancing class, you shouldn’t be afraid of anything.”

She might be right. You don’t have to take a pole dancing class, but it is up to you to choose what you are going to do and when. Even if you are afraid, do it anyway.

Are you interested in starting your own fitness journey, but you need a little help? Workout with me!

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you choose to purchase or use one of the services I link to that I may receive a small commission, which means I get to spend more time creating content that you enjoy and find useful. NOTE: I only recommend products and services that I have personally used and had a positive experience with and believe will add value to my readers.

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  1. I used to suffer from this big time cause I am a dude with man boobs (i used to be really heavy) and still get intimated at times. Like you said, the trick is to keep going!

  2. Such great information Many of the clients I work with are intimidated by the gym. You're right the more you go the easier and more comfortable it gets.

    1. Glad you found this useful. Thanks for reading!

  3. This is really helpful information. It's more about a focus on one's self rather than comparison to others. People spend a lot of time in life trying to fit in rather than stand out. We only get one chance at this life so why not make it about you and only you. It's great that you noted about the why or the reason you're doing this whole journey in the first place. It's about a commitment to yourself to be the best version of you that you can be. Great post.

  4. This is 100% me every time I think about going to the gym. This is super helpful information that I will totally use!

    1. I hope so! Don't let anything or anyone stop you from being great.

  5. Really enjoyed reading this! I'm very plus size right now and I definitely feel intimidated by going to the gym. You and your friend are right though. Very helpful, thank you :)

    1. I know it is scary at first, but if you can make it past that initial fear, you'll do great. Thanks for stopping by!


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