When some people think about going to the gym, they often become extremely tense.
I started going to the gym weekly at the beginning of this year, and I felt the exact same way. I was super nervous to start going, despite only doing cardio for the first month of my fitness journey. It felt as if everywhere I turned, people were staring at me, judging my form or technique. Looking back, it's silly to think people would actually judge how you run on a treadmill, especially since there's really only one way to run. However, gym anxiety is very real and it took months for me to overcome it.
As a kid, I was always tall and scrawny. My mom would often comment on how boney my elbows were or how she could wrap her whole hand around my wrist because it was so small. These comments never really bothered me when I was younger, but as an eighteen-year-old girl who is starting her own life in college, I didn't want to hear these comments from my peers. My friends and those I went to high school with would also comment on how "lanky" I was, and it made me reconsider how I wanted to look. Luckily, the daycare I worked at was part of a local gym, so I had the opportunity to get toned and fit for free.
Cardio is an amazing workout and should be a priority if you are looking to get fit. However, after spending countless trips on the treadmill or elliptical, I wasn't seeing the results I had hoped. I realized that if I wanted to be toned and lose my lankiness, I had to gain muscle mass. Fortunately, my boyfriend and his family are avid gym-goers, so I had help when learning different workouts on various machines. The gym anxiety, however, only got worse.
If you have never been to the gym before, you probably envision it as a bunch of beefed up men lifting one-hundred-pound dumbbells and admiring their biceps. And I hate to say it, but you are correct -- sort of.
These types of people do exist at the gym, but a vast majority of the people you see are just wanting to tone up and be healthier. Not everyone you encounter at the gym is busting at the seams with their gigantic muscles. It took me forever to understand that everyone who goes to workout has the same goal: to be healthy.
They don't care if you're extremely buff or have no muscles whatsoever.
We all just want to be the best and healthiest version of ourselves. However, this doesn't mean it isn't any less intimidating to get up there with the buff people and lift weights. I felt incredibly small lifting only five-pound-dumbbells when doing arm workouts, but eventually, I found workouts that made me less self-conscious and that were better for my body type.
The key to working out is finding the routine that works for you.
Just because an Instagram influencer has an "amazing" body doesn't mean their workout routine will work for you. Exercising consists of trial and error, and the gym is the best testing ground for different routines. The more you convince yourself to go, the more it becomes second nature.
Going every day is unrealistic and not necessarily the best option, but even convincing yourself to go three times a week is better than nothing. It's so much easier to want to work out when you find your routine and a groove to get into. You may feel as though you are getting awkward glances from people who see you lifting heavy weights, but you are much stronger than you think.
Show yourself that, and don't worry about the opinions of others. More often than not, no one is looking anyway.