One of the biggest challenges many people have when it comes to getting in the gym is overcoming fear. This is especially true for women.
Men, being “more masculine”, tend to push past many potential weight room fears and just go for it. It also helps that most of the people in the weight room are guys. As the saying goes, ducks typically hang out with other ducks (or something like that). Therefore, men aren’t as intimidated by the gym as women might be.
For women, though, it is a tragedy that you have trouble finding a comfortable place to weight train. After all, lifting weights is the best thing you can be doing for your health and longevity. Which is why I’m going to talk about the 3 biggest fears that both women and men run into when convincing themselves to go to the gym.
Word of warning, though. Be prepared to confront your fears head on and take action. Because that’s what this life is all about. So, let’s dive in head first…
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Fear #1: Getting Hurt
When it comes to pain, we will go through all costs to avoid it or be rid of it. Many people struggle with the idea of going to the gym because, well, they don’t want to get hurt.
Maybe you’ve tried working out before and ended up straining a muscle. Or maybe you know somebody who lifts weights on a regular basis and always seems to be injured (if you know a Crossfitter, this is most likely the case).
As a matter of fact, as I sit here right now, typing on my MacBook, I have a heating pad on my lower back. It’s from, yes, lifting weights on Monday. However, wasn’t the WEIGHTS themselves that hurt me. It was my less-than-intelligent approach to PROGRESSING the weights.
The 2 Main Reasons People Get Hurt Lifting Weights
You see, when it comes to injuries in the gym, there are typically 2 reasons why people get hurt:
#1) Poor technique
In my case, even though I’m a seasoned weight lifter, it was too much weight, too fast. I preach a lot about starting where you are. Because if you don’t, you tend to get hurt.
I, on the other hand, like to periodically reminisce about the good ol’ days of lifting heavy weights with the football team. It happens about once a year. And when I decide that, maybe, just maybe I can deadlift the weight I used to…I end up hurt.
Now, I don’t get hurt because I’m lifting weights. And I don’t get hurt because my form is bad. I get hurt because my ego gets in the way and my body is not able to withstand the amount of weight I’m trying to lift.
From now on, any time you’re deciding to venture into the weightroom, it’s important that you do 2 things:
#1) When you’re trying an exercise for the first time, YouTube the crap out of it and figure out what your form should look like. (I strongly suggest our Thriveology YouTube channel for any exercise enquiries).
#2) Once you’ve figured out correct technique, start with the absolute lowest, easiest weight possible. Master that weight for 2 weeks or so, then add 5 pounds every 1 to 2 weeks after that.
If you take the time to master your form through research and practice, and don’t progress your weights too fast, the likelihood of getting hurt is slim to none.
Pro Tip: Every once and a while, it makes sense to have a Grease the Groove day. Grease the Groove is simply another way of saying “practice your form”. To Grease correctly, you need lighter weights and abundant attention.
Fear #2: Not Getting Results
All of us decide to start an exercise program for one reason or another. Maybe your reasoning is more intrinsic in nature, or maybe it’s more extrinsic in nature. Whatever your purpose for getting in shape, it generally falls into one of 3 categories:
#1) Feel better
#2) Lose weight
#3) Look good naked
Okay, these are over simplifications, but you get the point. Maybe you want to feel better so you can have energy to play with your grand kids.
Or maybe you want to lose weight to lower your risk of cardiovascular issues.
Or, just maybe, you want to look good naked because, goodness forbid, you want to feel good about yourself!
No matter what your reasoning, one of the biggest fears you might have when getting started with exercise is failing and not getting the results you want.
And this is absolutely logical and justified…
After all, how many times have you joined the gym after the first of the year (because of a promotion from Globo Gym to get started for JUST $10 a month!! I’ll stay off my soap box for now…) only to fizzle out and stop going after about 6 weeks?
The same can be said for dieters who have tried every diet in the book, ranging from the Atkins diet, to the Grape Fruit diet, to the Paleo diet all with little to no results.
Without getting into a dissertation about how the fitness industry giant is set up to make you fail, I believe your fears of getting started because of the probability of low results are completely justified!
With that being said, there are a few strategies you can adopt that will hedge against the forces that be and put you in a better position to reach your health & fitness goals.
Know Your Goals + Write Them Down…
Let’s say you want to lose weight. To get started, you set out to your local Globo Gym with the goal of…well…losing weight! Great!
Come 3 weeks later, and you’ve only lost 2lbs! Demoralizing, right?!
But why? Your goal was to lose weight, and, guess what, you lost 2lbs. Therefore, you lost weight.
Fine, then, if 2lbs doesn’t make you happy, then what does? 5lbs? 10lbs? 20lbs?
That’s what I mean by know exactly what your goal is. Pick a specific, measurable result you want to achieve and write it down. This is imperative when getting started. Because if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s going to be hard to track your progress and stay motivated to move forward.
Run Your Pre-Mortem Analysis…
This is a BIG one for overcoming your fears. Once you’ve decided what your exact goal is, the next thing you need to do to ensure results is plan for failure. Tim Ferriss calls this doing a pre-mortem analysis. Inevitably, you’re going to run into road blocks. It happens. You want to lose 20lbs, but you get to 10lbs and, BAM, you’re stuck for 4 weeks!
This is going to happen and you know it. So don’t be fooled by the obvious and take time now to plan what you’re going to do WHEN, not IF, you hit a plateau and quit making progress.
What changes are you going to make?
Who are you going to reach out to for help?
How are you going to continue to move toward your goal?
If you have a goal in place and plan to overcome obstacles as they arise, your likelihood of success will increase dramatically.
Pro Tip: If you’re not prepared to set your goals and make a plan on your own, but have the itch to get in the weight room, hire a coach. Yes, it costs money. If priced right, it’ll be about 15 to 20x more than your gym membership. But a quality coach is worth their weight in gold for health & fitness success.
Fear #3: Being Judged
I decided to save the best for last. Not that this is a great topic to talk about. But because the fear of judgment is often overlooked and surpassed because the topic itself is uncomfortable.
First, there are some basic reasons for having the fear of being judged. If you’re trying a new exercise, for instance, you might think you look stupid doing it.
Or, if you’re new to the gym environment, you might not be sure what to wear, so you might be worried about not dressing correctly.
Then, underneath of these simpler fears, there are personal, internal fears that plague many. For instance, if you’re over weight, you might be scared of being judged to be fat.
Or, if you’re a women, you might be worried about being stared at.
So, there are many different levels of judgment you can feel when it comes to being in the gym. And, if you’ve ever been in a gym, you have good reason to feel this way.
Just walk into a weight room at your local Globo Gym and you can FEEL the judgment oozing off the walls! Ironically, even at the “judgement free zone” (or especially at the judgement free zone, maybe), you feel the eyes and mental thoughts of those around you as they stare in wonderment.
Just Suck it Up and Do it…
Now, if I were being a hard ass about this, my strategy for you would be to suck it up and get over it. After all, you have no power over the thoughts and feelings of other people, especially strangers. You only have the power to determine how you think and feel about a situation, and then what you’re going to do about it.
However, since I realize that this strategy is not realistic per se, I have only one way in which you can effectively overcome the fear of judgment:
Find a place where there are others like you and go there…
Remember at the beginning of this article when I said ducks walk with other ducks (however incorrect the actual saying may be)? That’s my suggestion for you. Find other ducks that look like you, talk like you, walk like you, quack like you, and go where they are.
Do you remember Curves?
Yes, that was the gym for women. That’s where women went to workout, get fit, and relax all at once. Because they didn’t feel judged by those around them. BTW, it was abundantly successful until they quit moving toward their goal because they were unwilling to plan ahead (review above about getting results).
How about Zumba?
It’s still relatively popular (hanging on for dear life, mostly). But in its hayday, Zumba attracted a certain group of people because those people loved to dance and get fit TOGETHER.
Find your community and, once you do, hang on tight and use it for all it’s worth. Because being in a community of like-minded people will drive you to get results like no other.
Where to Go from Here
If you’re like many people who will read this article, you might think the ideas are worthy, but don’t take action toward putting them into place. Do not be that person!
Take action TODAY and decide to start your journey toward fitness mastery. Then and only then can will you start to see how these strategies will help you overcome your fears.