- I signed up for my current gym membership when I was 33 years old and weighed just over 300 pounds.
- The gym intimidated me at first but a few things have helped me to become more comfortable at the gym.
- I set goals and focused on reaching them and made a killer playlist for myself.
- I also realized that those around me weren’t paying as much attention to me as I thought.
When I signed up for my current gym membership, I was 33 years old and I weighed just over 300 pounds. I was extremely out of shape and that my fitness level was at close to zero. Although living in New York City for more than 15 years meant I did a fair amount of walking, my terrible diet and lack of more intense cardio had me starting at a very beginner level at the gym.
Admittedly, I was intimidated. I was committed to making a change to a healthier lifestyle and dropping some weight but I wasn’t sure if I could handle the stares I was sure I would get.
Here’s how I got over my intimidation and turned the gym into my happy place.
I made a killer playlist to listen to at the gym
Putting together a playlist of tracks that were fast-paced made me feel pumped and helped power me through my workouts. They also put me in the zone and kept me from paying much attention to anyone around me. When my music is on, it’s just me and the elliptical, me and the stationary bicycle, me and the treadmill, etc.
I set large and small goals and focused on reaching them
I knew that I wanted (needed, really) to lose more than 100 pounds and that doing so was going to require hard work and some serious dedication. Losing 100 pounds was my big goal, but I set some smaller ones, too: to be able to do 30 minutes on the elliptical, then 45, then an hour; to start running and do the Couch to 5K program; to feel confident enough in my fitness abilities to do a spin class. Having small and large goals to focus on made me forget to be intimidated by the gym, which was really powerful for me.
I realized no one around me really cared about what I was doing
Whenever you think a stranger is staring at you or thinking something bad about you, chances are they’re in their own world and doing their own thing that doesn’t involve you at all. After going to the gym a few times, I realized that people weren’t staring at me like I’d thought they would. They were busy working on their personal goals, so what was the point in worrying if they were paying attention to me?
And if those around me were paying attention to what I was doing, I stopped caring about what they were thinking
This is easier said than done, of course. I made the conscious decision not to put weight on what anyone else might be thinking of me (if they actually were thinking of me, which, as I mentioned, wasn’t likely). From this point on, I felt so much freer.
I started talking to the people I regularly saw at the gym
This didn’t happen overnight and I didn’t just start initiating huge conversations, but I started smiling at people I saw at the gym often. I would say a quick hello or ask a question about a particular piece of equipment when I saw some of the “regulars” who were always there working out at the same time as me. Striking up that kind of camaraderie, even on such a basic level, went a long way in making me feel much more comfortable at the gym.
I became motivated by all the progress I was making
Once I began losing weight and my stamina began to increase, I noticed my self-esteem skyrocketed as well. I used to believe I could never get fit and that I’d always be overweight and lazy and that there’s no way I’d ever be able to run a mile or join an exercise class. Turns out, I can do that and more.
Knowing that and feeling such pride in myself really removed the last ounces of intimidation I felt about the gym. Making progress helped me love the gym because it became the place that helped facilitate my lifestyle and health overhaul.
I took advantage of all of the free classes that my gym offered
This happened later on when I’d built up my fitness abilities. Joining some of the free classes offered by my gym provided more physical challenges for me to overcome and helped me burn even more calories. Attending classes also helped me to feel like I was “part of the gang” at my gym, so to speak. I’m not an outsider or a freak at the gym. I’m someone who’s taking control of her health and increasing her fitness abilities just like everyone else — and it feels amazing.