The weight room can be a scary place. If you’ve never ventured into the weight room before, it can be intimidating. Here’s how to approach the weight room for the first time and overcome your fears!
They say curiosity killed the cat..
We know this.
It’s something we say to our kids when we catch them trying to lick batteries. And as adults that feeling of curiosity never goes away. We’re constantly trying new things, and that’s fantastic.
We eat kale. We learn how to speak a different language. We learn how to tolerate our significant other’s chosen movie preferences. Occasionally.
But when it comes to fitness, there is one thing that raises our curiosity that most of us are scared to act on – lifting weights.
We’ve seen the images in fitness magazines, and read about the reasons why we should do it, but something about that long walk over to the free weights area fills our hearts with fear. Many people never conquer this fear.
Instead, we carry on with our cardio routine, pounding the treadmill while giving sad glances via the mirror – so as not to risk direct eye contact and eternal damnation – to where we really want to be. It’s basically what I used to do in my teens when I saw a girl I liked.
We convince ourselves we’re fine as we are. Why risk the embarrassment? Yet, during our next workout, there it is again. We want to be over there in the free weights section. Yeah. That dungeon-looking place, filled with mighty iron-wielding warriors grunting and throwing their way to impressive new personal bests. We belong over there. Not over here with the girl reading a magazine on the machine next to us, or the guy who we’re pretty certain is asleep on the recumbent bike in front.
So how do you get through this crippling fear which stops you from making your move?
Well, like any other.
By ripping off the band aid!
You see, the emotions which deter us from making the first move are rooted in our lack of self-confidence, and if you’ve been going through this at your local gym, you’re certainly not alone. Thousands of gym goers have experienced this feeling before, and they’ll all tell you the best thing you can do is to just go for it.
Because it’s one of those feelings which becomes worse the longer you let it fester. Before too long, we stop approaching it with the same rationality we’d approach other situations.
Think about it. If you went to the library and were unsure about something, you’d head straight over to the librarians desk so they could do their job, right?
Yet for some reason, we convince ourselves that if we head over the the free weights section of our gym and perform an exercise incorrectly, we’ll be standing in the center of the floor with the perfect-looking cast of Zoolander pointing and laughing at us.
It’s all in our head.
Conquering The Fear
We are usually 3 things which put us off lifting for the first time. They are:
- I might do something wrong
- I don’t like how I look compared to them
- I don’t know which exercises to do
Here’s a few tips to get past each one.
The fear of doing something wrong is by far the worst of the bunch. Despite the fact it may seem like a big deal, it’s not. People do things wrong every day, including me. Just last week, I went to the local supermarket and reached into my wallet to discover my 6 year old had “helpfully” replaced all my coins with chocolate money. Just laugh it off.
We often imagine we’ll be training with a big spotlight over our head, center stage while the rest of the gym silently judges us. But, truth be told, nobody really looks at anyone else while training.
Of course, you are not expected to walk over to a piece of kit and know precisely how to use it. It’ll take time and it’ll take practice. If you’re not sure about something, grab a trainer or a member of the public nearby and simply ask them for a quick guide. I promise, it’s not as scary as it seems!
Being self conscious about your own body as you approach the free weights area is another common experience.
But hey, this affects everyone in the whole gym.
In my younger days, I was genuinely scared to go to the gym because I hated my physique. I had the typical “Shaggy from Scooby Doo” physique throughout my teens and was fearful of judgmental looks from others. When I eventually plucked up the courage to hit the gym, I recall a bodybuilder with God-like proportions who always seemed to train at the same time of day as me.
I’d been lifting weights for three weeks, and as we sat on benches next door to each other, it looked like a before and after photo. I often found myself wondering if his shoulders were given to him by Zeus, as I stared at my reflection and could barely see myself through the green mist.
I used to beat myself up about it, thinking “I’ll never look that good” and “I bet he thinks I look so silly.”
Until one day, we transitioned out of the “manly nod phase” to actual conversation – a big moment for any man – when I discovered something remarkable that made me instantly feel at ease in the gym.
“I’ve been meaning to say,” I mumbled, “your shoulders are immense. I’ve been trying to build mine up.”
“Thanks!” he replied, “To be honest, all I see when I train is my tiny forearms. They drive me crazy.”
You see, everybody in the gym has their own issues. Even the ones you believe to be perfect.
Some of them will have issues with their legs, others will be trying to sort out their chest, etc. It’s all about progress, and we are all on the same long road together.
Not knowing which exercises to do is easily the minor of the three.
Everyone starts somewhere, and that’s what gyms have trainers for. Heck, with so much information available at our fingertips on websites such as this one, you can learn everything you need to know at your leisure. But in the early days I recommend taking the pressure off yourself, giving yourself a break, and focusing only on big compound exercises and reducing your cardio duration by using techniques like high intensity interval training in order to nail down the basic fundamentals of lifting weights.
From there, everything else is a cinch.
Hopefully, after reading this article you have a lot less “fear” about hitting the free weights area of your local gym. My advice is to go do it in your next workout, and never look back. Because when you do get started, you’ll notice that the weight lifting community is one of the most supportive and helpful networks on the planet.
Worries of judgement and mocking disappear, replaced by new-found confidence and new-found friends, all of whom are striving to accomplish their own set of goals, all of whom are on the road to success just like you.
It all starts with that walk to the weight room.
Daunting as it may seem at first, when we get over there, we realize that those mighty iron-wielding warriors are just Ken from the local supermarket and Billy the pizza delivery guy.