Reprinted from the Beauty Lies in Strength Blog with permission of the author – Jen Comas Keck
When I was 18 years old I was scared to death of the weight room and the people in it, but I desperately wanted to learn how to lift weights. I’d do aerobics classes during the day and then I’d go back to the gym at night around 9pm when I knew nobody would be there and I’d go look around the weight room and try to figure the machines out.
The weight room can be a very intimidating place for a woman that isn’t familiar with it. When you look out amongst the vast sea of complicated looking machines, contraptions and gizmos it probably overwhelms you – and understandably so. Anything that is unfamiliar will typically seem a bit daunting. I will confess, I still get intimidated too! Anytime I’ve been out of town or hit a new gym I’m always bit shy to dive right in and get my lift on. However, I’ve discovered a few things that have helped me feel more at ease and I’d like to share them with you in hopes of getting my ladies into the weight room which is where the real magic happens!
1. Wear something that you feel confident in
This will differ depending on the person. For some women this may mean wearing yoga pants, a t-shirt and a ball cap. Other women like to slap on their most colorful Lululemon outfit and matching headband. I’m admittedly part of the latter. I feel my best, therefore perform my best, when I feel that I look my best, but whatever works for you. Make sure your outfit is covering enough that you aren’t going to feel self conscious in it and it fits well enough that you don’t have to make frequent adjustments to it. (We’ve all wore “those pants” that you have to keep pulling up, or “that top” that you have to keep tugging down. No fun!)
2. Find a buddy
A training partner can be the golden ticket for some people when it comes to an exercise regime for a couple of reasons. First off, everything is less scary and more fun when you have a friend with you. Walking into a weight room won’t seem nearly as intimidating if you’ve got your best gal (or guy) pal with you. Secondly, they help hold you accountable. If you know your friend is meeting you at the gym it’s much harder for you to dip out and cancel. And last, you can push each other and motivate each other!
3. No buddy? No problem
So all of your girlfriends gave you the ol, “I can’t go to the gym… I have to, er, wash my hair.” line? No biggie. Load your iPod up with the music that makes you feel the MOST badass. Take some time to brainstorm and create a list of songs that fire you up and make you feel good and then upload them on to your iPod. The iPod serves a few different purposes. The first purpose, obviously, is music. Music serves as a fantastic motivator to most. Secondly, it sort of removes you from your surroundings. Your less likely to pay attention to all of the scary grunting, barking and howling noises that typically occur in most weight rooms if you’re too busy listening to LMFAO scream the lyrics to “I’m Sexy and I Know It” into your ears.
4. Have a plan
Have a plan. Have a plan. Have a plan. I can’t possibly stress this enough. All too many times I’ve seen a newbie woman walk into the weight room with absolutely no plan. She is very easy to spot as she wanders around aimlessly, does a half-assed set of something on a machine that is completely purposeless and then she quickly scampers across the gym to her safety net, aka, the cardio machines. Ladies. I beg of you to have a plan. So you don’t have a plan, you say? Allow me to help! Check out my wonderful friend Nia Shanks’ website for her Beautiful Badass programs. These programs are targeted specifically towards women and will guide you and show you exactly what you need to do. Another great option is the book, “New Rules of Lifting for Women” by Lou Schuler and Cassandra Forsythe. If you need additional information on any and all things related to strength training, you can visit the world’s #1 strength training resource (in which I am honored to be a contributor and team member) at www.EliteFTS.com
5. Bring your training journal
Your training journal can be any notebook that you choose. Mine are typically girlie looking notebooks in bright colors but yours can be whatever you’d like. Before you go to the gym, write down which exercises you plan to do, how many sets and how many repetitions. Take your notebook and a pen with you and jot down the weight you used as you go. Like other things on the list, this serves a dual purpose. First off you can see what you did the last time so you are can strive to continuously improve by adding more weight, more sets or reps, or less rest time. Second, it gives you something to do and keeps you busy between sets. More busy time = less time to worry about what is going on around you and it keeps you focused on what you should be focused on: your workout!
6. Make friends
Once you get into the routine of frequenting the gym and the weight room, you are bound to start seeing some of the same people over and over again. Smile at people, say hello and make friends. If you know some friendly people around the gym it is a lot less scary! Plus having a strong network of likeminded friends will help you stick to your goals. I have met almost all of my closest friends through the gym and those friendships have lasted years and years.
I trained in the weight rooms of the Las Vegas Athletic Clubs for many years and these weight rooms are absolutely packed with hundreds of people coming through every hour. The tips I’ve listed above helped me overcome my anxiety and make myself comfortable in the weight room. And probably the most important thing I’ve learned? People aren’t paying attention to what you are doing because they are too busy focusing on themselves!
So ladies, put on your training gear, grab your friend or strap on your iPod, set your plan, grab your journal and lets lift some weights! You have as much right to be in there as anybody else.
I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment below if you have any other tips that have helped you overcome your anxiety in the weight room.
I welcome your emails at JenComasKeck@gmail.com