You’ve gathered the courage to go to the gym, and right as you pick up speed on the elliptical machine, you look at the wall mirror and see them: the fit and toned, the sports-bra and spandex wearing, the six-pack donning beauties. You might glance at the reflection of your sweaty, red face, or at your gently bouncing mid-section, and maybe, just maybe, you suddenly feel embarrassed to be anywhere near the gym.
Going to the gym when you aren’t at your physical best is hard enough. You don’t need to make the leap towards a healthier you and get stuck in a rut comparing yourself to the nearby fitness-foxes. Here are my top five tips on how to stay confident at the gym, no matter what size you are.
- Know you’re not alone. We are all prone to critical self-evaluation from time to time. It doesn’t matter how perfect you think someone else looks, they probably feel flawed too. Do you really remember the last out-of-shape or unattractive person you saw at the gym? Or anywhere? Probably not. Most of us are more concerned with our own lives to even register the flaws of others. Think about that the next time you feel like you don’t fit in, then take a deep breath, and keep moving.
- Indulge in a favorite work-out outfit. You may not be a size two, but you can still rock your size-whatever while at the gym. Incorporate your favorite colors with a great fit and see how fabulous you feel. Pumping up your work-out wardrobe will give you the boost to stay motivated at the gym, and can be a great incentive for when you drop enough pounds to need a new outfit. Skip the food-reward and go to the department store instead!
- Bring a friend. It’s an instant confidence boost when you have a partner in crime at the gym. You can commiserate as well as support one another. You’ll also have instant accountability, which is important in developing a healthy lifestyle. Plus, exercise done with friends can be better for your health. A study by the University of Oxford found that working out with others gives you a bigger boost of feel-good endorphins than solo work-outs. What’s not to love about getting a buzz and toning your body at the same time?
- Join a class. Not only will you still reap the endorphin boost from working out with others, but you’ll also be able to blend in with the crowd. Everyone is too busy trying to follow the instructor to notice that you couldn’t touch your toes, or missed a step in the routine. No one cares! This is your chance to get fit and have fun while you’re doing it.
- Challenge yourself. You made it to the gym because you knew there was work to be done, but you also need to push yourself outside your comfort zone. Sure, it’s easy to hide away and never let anyone see you sweat, but you miss out on the important emotional growth that comes from overcoming a stressful situation, building confidence through hard work, and socializing yourself. The single act of pushing yourself to deal with something uncomfortable gives you the courage to deal with larger issues later on. Don’t see the gym as a garish repeat of seventh grade PE, but as an opportunity for personal growth.
Feeling confident at the gym is not always easy, but it can be possible. By making a commitment, arming yourself with friends, and allowing yourself to feel fabulous, you will reap all the rewards that working out at the gym can offer. Do you have any tips for staying confident at the gym?