My dad always told me if you can't get your point across in one sentence, there's no point in telling the story. So here's your one sentence summary — WHO THE HELL CARES?
OK, I get it. It seems like a lot of people care about what you're doing in the gym. If you're a girl, you think every single guy in the place is staring at you and you're comparing yourself to other women in the gym. If you're a guy, you think you have to look your smoothest at all times and try to be bigger and better and other guys. Right?
These are the thoughts that fuel our self-consciousness and I'm here to tell you that this couldn't be further from the truth.
Self-consciousness stems from the insecurities we have with ourselves: maybe we have a slight pudge, we can't lift a lot of weight, we're slow on the treadmill, etc. Then, when we're put into a place like a gym where most people aren't comfortable, we begin over-analyzing our environments and ourselves. Therefore, these insecurities that we have with ourselves become the first things we THINK people see in us. This couldn't be further from reality.
Let's put ourselves through the worst case scenario — your greatest insecurity is the first thing people notice about you. So what? From experience, people observe that for a few seconds, then go on about their days. If they don't, whose problem is that? They are wasting their time being infatuated with whatever it is they see about you.
But this worst case scenario is only a scenario one out 1,000 times. The other 999 times, we're just in our own heads.
The reality of the situation is that most people who go to the gym are there to work on themselves, not to try to change other people. Trust me, they are looking at themselves exponentially more than they are looking at you, and you have to keep this at the forefront of your mind the minute you walk into the gym.
Going off of people focusing on themselves, that's what YOU need to do as a person. You don't lose 20 pounds or pack on a few inches of muscle by obsessing over other people. Seriously, when you workout, find a mirror to do your lifts and cardio in front of. Look yourself in the eyes and have a conversation with yourself about what you're doing. You need to be in your own head in a good way, focusing all of your attention just on what you're doing. Forget other people, forget your surroundings, and lock yourself in your gym time.
Keeping the focus on yourself is the most important thing you must make a habit: nobody was born with a fantastic, toned body and a glorious muscle pump. The best models, bodybuilders, and athletes all started as beginners in the gym, and we must remember to walk in our own shoes instead of fitting in someone else's.
Finally, remember that making a game plan for your gym time is the single most effective way to go about working out. Even the most veteran lifters will get caught off guard not following a plan and stand there feeling dumb in the gym, even though they know exactly how to do everything. Having a game plan will increase your focus tenfold on getting the work done, meaning you won't get distracted and let your mind start wandering on things like self-consciousness. If you don't know what you're doing, ask someone. Seriously. That person will be humbled that you asked them, so you'll be making them feel better on top of making friends with them.
Bonus tips: make a feel-good gym playlist and lose yourself (in the music, the moment, you own it...). Also, working out with a friend who is on the same level as you are in the gym is the best way to push yourself and eliminate self-consciousness. My friend Shane and I started working out as skinny teenage guys and we always pushed each other to new limits, holding each other accountable along the way and hyping up one another to keep after the hustle.
So, go get your grind on and remember, focus on yourself first and foremost. The thing you are imagining in your head is definitely not reality, so grow your thick skin and stop giving a damn because you are in the gym to work on YOU!