I love going to the gym. I know, I know, roll your eyes at me if you must. But over the last couple of years, my passion for fitness has expanded far beyond the elliptical and stair master and into the place many first-time gym goers dread: the weight room.
Stereotypically misrepresented as a sweaty, mirror-lined dungeon where super bro-ey dudes puff their chests and saunter around grunting, the weight room is often a source of intimidation for many people. I also fell into this category at one point. But after getting over the initial insecurity of being one of the few women in the weight room, I’ve developed a new level of confidence around barbells, squat racks, and free weights.
If you’re looking to hit the weights but feel intimidated, keep reading for tips on how to get around the weight room with confidence.
One thing that significantly contributed to my insecurity in the weight room was not knowing what the hell I was doing. I would go in, do a few bicep curls here, a few squats there, then wander around until I found a machine that looked simple to use and then leave. Don’t do this.
Instead, plan your workout ahead of time. Before heading to the gym, make sure you have a clear idea on which muscle group you’d like to work out and find a structured workout routine for it. There are plenty of free workout routines on Instagram, Pinterest, and online. Some of my favorite Instagram accounts for workouts are @yourfitgirlem_, @minibutmighty_, and @whitneyysimmons to name a few. This is a great way to receive workouts because you’re also provided with demonstrations for how to perform the movement and how to set up the machines for it.
If you’ve found a routine that does not include visual demonstrations,, research each move and machine before you get to the gym. You don’t have to completely remember the moves and how each machine works, but having a general idea of what you’ll be doing ahead of time will help to ease the anxiety around feeling lost when you get there. Also remember, it’s totally okay to look up videos on the workout while you’re at the gym! EVERYONE is on their phone at the gym, so don’t feel weird about it.
Give Yourself A Boost of Confidence
If it’s true that a sleek and polished outfit can make you feel more powerful and professional during a job interview, then I believe the same goes for something as simple as going to the gym. Dressing the part can really make you feel more competent in the weight room, and while it may seem a little superficial, having an outfit you feel good about for the gym can help you to feel loads more confident during a workout. It doesn’t have to be anything super expensive or trendy—you can find a pair of workout leggings at Marshalls for like $12.99 and DIY a crop top out of an old college t-shirt and BAM! Cute workout outfit.
Something that also helps is having a killer playlist queued up for the workout. I’m personally a fan of bad b*tch anthems from Lizzo, Demi Lovato, and Missy Elliot or basically anything from the 2000’s R&B era. When all else fails, Beyonce’s live Homecoming performance does wonders for my leg days. If you’re not someone who makes their own playlists, there’s plenty of playlists available in the workout section of Spotify. Just make sure you download the playlist before heading out in case wifi at your gym is spotty. And always make sure to have your headphones fully charged. Nothing kills a workout like your headphones dying in the middle of a set.
Remember These Little Truths
To be honest, it took some time for me to genuinely feel comfortable in the weight room. It was hard not to feel insecure and compare myself to everyone else that seemed so much more experienced than me. But what got me through those workouts overtime were these little nuggets of gym truths:
1. People genuinely do not care what you look like in the gym. They’re more concerned with how they look.
2. Everyone had a first day in the gym. You’re not the first person to not know how to work the leg press machine and you’re not stupid if you need to ask for help.
3. No, they’re not staring at you because they think you look silly. They’re literally just looking at their form in the mirror behind you.
I think sometimes our intimidation causes us to forget the reason people go to the gym in the first place: to improve their health! If we can continue to remind ourselves that most of us are there for the same reasons, it can ease the insecurity and intimidation we feel when we’re learning how to navigate a new space in the gym. Have you ever felt intimidated by the weight room/ If so, how did you overcome it? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!