If you’re an athlete, the gym is probably your safe space, and you might be totally comfortable with all of the machines and free weights. If you’re not, however, you might suffer from gymtimidation. Gymtimidation is the fear you feel going to the gym because you’re intimidated by the fit people there or the heavy and complicated equipment.
When I first came to Blackburn, I had major gymtimidation. Especially because the fitness center here isn’t very big, I was constantly worried that people were looking at me and judging me for not doing as much as other people or not knowing how to use some of the machines. To this day, I’m still intimidated by anyone who can do free weights because I have noodle arms.
The thing that lessened my gymtimidation the most was my basic fitness class with adjunct physical education professor Robert Steinkuehler. It was three times a week for 45 minutes each class. We showed up and used whatever machines we were comfortable using, and we used them to our own limits. It wasn’t like high school gym class where we had to run a certain amount of miles, stick to a certain machine or do a certain amount of reps. The first couple classes, coach Steinkuehler showed everyone how to use the machines so nobody was singled out for not knowing and everyone got to learn.
After that class, it took me only a few times to get used to going to the gym by myself without the comfort of a class. The reality behind gymtimidation is that when most people go to the gym, they’re not paying attention to you. People go to the gym to work out and focus on themselves and their health. Those people are not thinking about what you’re doing, how fast you’re doing it or what you’re wearing. There are better places to ridicule and make fun of people: Twitter, for example.
To anyone out there too gymtimidated to start working out, I recommend you either take basic fitness (if there’s room in your schedule) or find a workout buddy to go to the gym with. When I had a gym workout buddy, it was way easier for me to admit that I didn’t know how to use a particular machine and ask for help. It’s way easier to ask for help when you don’t feel like the only one who doesn’t know how to lift free weights. The main piece of advice for anyone who suffers from gymtimidation is to remember that you don’t go to the gym for anyone else but yourself, and that’s how everyone else feels. Nobody is judging you but yourself!