For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Emma, a 31 year old lover of all things food, fitness, and wine. I have a level 3 diploma in personal training with Train Fitness and yet still feel ever so slightly out of place in the weights section of a gym… but why?
I read somewhere recently that men in a women’s underwear shop feel the same way women do in the free weight section of a gym – terrified. I like this analogy. You’ve plucked up the courage to go, you know (sort of) what you’re looking for, and are hopeful you have the right size. Yet somehow, once you get there you end up confused, anxious, and sweaty then leave without buying anything.
Now I’ve never felt this whilst overhauling my bra and knicker collection but I have on many occasions talked myself in to and out of a weight session at the gym. Gone in with grand ideas of new moves and multiple sets, walked towards the area, and before you know it you’re back on the treadmill watching Jeremy Kyle (or something similarly awful) and wondering why you’re being such a wuss about it all.
(photo credits to Alexander Ward @ruggedwisdom)
What is it about this area that is so flipping intimidating? The weights? The testosterone? The half-drunk protein shakes or the near impossible to reposition benches? Everyone here is either texting or picking up and throwing weights around like Arnie!
So.. how do you conquer that feeling of being the new kid at school when it comes to weight training at the gym?
Here are my tips to win the game!
1) Have a plan.
If you have it straight in your own head what you’re there to do you’re more likely to follow it through. Start small, use simple moves and light weights and as you start to feel less awkward, mix it up a bit.
2) Do your research.
Watch stuff online and look at form. Look at the weights being used and be realistic about where you need to start. We all have to start somewhere and there is no shame in that what so ever. There are some really lovely and helpful bloggers out there putting out step by step tutorials that can get you started.
3) Ask a member of staff.
Don’t you think it’s odd that a gym induction consists of pointing at equipment (mainly cardio based ‘here’s how you switch the cross trainer on’) but when it comes to free-weights you get nada? The trainers are there to show you how to use everything in the gym, get them to change the weights on the resistance machines and adjust the benches and seats so you know how to do it yourself. A good PT will show you how you can use kettlebells, dumbbells and barbells, it’s an opportunity for them to engage with a potential new client.
4) Don’t be afraid to change your weight.
By this I mean don’t persist with something that could potentially hurt you or feels similar to lifting a glass of wine for a sip. Trial and error.
5) Nobody cares.
I know it sounds silly but how often do you remember anybody you’ve awkwardly exchanged sweaty glances at in the gym?
6) Guys get the fear too.
When I started looking into why people fear the dreaded weights section of a gym I came across numerous blog posts and comments from blokes saying exactly the same stuff I am. In truth, nobody wants to look stupid.
The one thing that seems to be putting everyone off is fear, fear of the unknown and fear of making a total plonker out of yourself. Let’s be honest though, if we didn’t do stuff based on the risk that something embarrassing might happen then you’d never leave the house. I only have to think back to that day I walked to the office with my dress tucked into my tights, that time a seagull flew into me or that time when I accidentally locked myself onto my balcony and had to be rescued by the next-door neighbour and his spatula, to know the universe likes to smirk at us occasionally.
Try something and fail, try a new exercise and do it wrong, pick the wrong weight, drop a weight, get stuck by a weight, accidentally take someone else’s weight. Do it all. I have. Remember that everybody in that weight section started somewhere. As a fully qualified PT I still managed (last week) to get myself trapped by a barbell during a particularly enthusiastic chest press routine.
It is important to remember that fitness is about you, not what other people think of you.
Train with me:
Emma is a freelance personal trainer and is currently taking on new clients at a personal training gym in Manchester city centre just off Albert Square and also in Didsbury. If you would like to discuss personal training sessions, buddy-ups or classes with Emma please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org. For updates on social events, group classes and future MagnaPass experiences please visit: https://www.weightsandwine.co.uk/services