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How to get over your fear of the gym

Just do it

When I tell people that I weight train most days of the week, there are generally two types of responses: confusion as to why I would put myself through that, and awe because apparently it is "brave" of me. I have realised that the gym is generally a place people either love or loathe, and those who dislike it often say they feel uncomfortable and discouraged there.

Girls especially often feel very intimidated at the idea of the gym – seeing it as a very male-dominated space, or a place where really fit people go. This is understandable, the gym can seem really scary at times. But when you walk inside, you realise that everyone is just like you – sweating in a room full of strangers. Here are a couple of useful tips to help you get over your fear of the gym.

Go with a friend

We all have that one sporty friend who constantly seems to either be heading to or coming from the gym, and permanently lives in their active wear. What is stopping you from going with them? A new place is much less scary when someone is introducing you to it. All it takes is for your mate to show you all the rooms and how the equipment works once, maybe showing you what they do, and you're all set. And this doesn't just have to be once – there are loads of people that always gym together, so you never have to go alone if you don't want to.

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Strength in numbers

Stop comparing yourself to everyone else

Everybody started somewhere, so everybody was once where you were. That guy benching 100 kilos started with doing 20, so don't be embarrassed when you start there too. The same way that there is no such thing as a bikini body, there is no such thing as a gym body. You could walk around in tight shorts and a sports bra if you wanted to. Just wear and do what makes you feel comfortable, and don't look at anyone else.

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Quick mirror selfie before the sesh

Besides, if your motivation to go to the gym is purely to look like someone else, you need to rethink what you're doing. It should be about being healthy and feeling good in your body, not about looking a particular way.

Nobody is watching you

Remember that people go to the gym to work on themselves, not to watch other people (unless you go to the gym to pick up people, in which case fuck off). One of the many wonderful things about gym goers is that they are often way to absorbed in what they are doing to even look at you. That guy on the mat beside you isn't looking at what you're doing, how heavy your weights are, if your back is in the right position, or what you're wearing. He is most likely way too focused on his own gains to pay any attention to you.

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Looking and feeling like a queen

Just ask for help

Get over yourself and just ask one of the trainers for advice. In most gyms people get paid to walk around and be available for if you need their help – so make use of the resources that are in place for you. With most types of exercise it is really important to do it correctly, making sure that your form isn't off so you don't get injured. Besides, these people are qualified, and know what they are doing. It is not weird that they know and you don't, that is literally the point of their job.

Observe and learn

Being in the gym means that there are dozens of people around you doing all kinds of different exercises. Don't know how to use a particular machine? Just watch the next time someone uses that piece of equipment, and pay attention to what they do. Also, there are a million resources online that give explanations of what to do, how to do it, exercise ideas, and workout routines. All you have to do is educate yourself and you're golden.

Overall, the gym really isn't as intimidating as people make it out to be. Do your research, take your friend with you, don't compare yourself to others, ask for help when you need it – and you'll be golden. Dust off your Nikes, and get your ass moving.