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SOCAL_LEE SparkPoints: (43,325)
Fitness Minutes: (97,762)
Posts: 246
12/21/12 11:21 P

Had to laugh about N16351D's comment about bringing a book to the weight room. I do that regularly and have had numerous people ask me about it -- and then go and buy the book themselves. I don't care if I look silly, because it's not about what other people think, it's about making sure I have the best workout I can. And, as everyone else has said, the guys in the weight room really don't care what you're doing in there and they don't want to make you nervous. So go for it!

MM165592 SparkPoints: (4,664)
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Posts: 61
12/20/12 5:42 P

Most of the guys in the weight liftng section are focused on what they're doing. Honestly, I have this fear too! Every time I go to my school's gym, it's a bunch of athletic guys lifting weights and they're really intense about it. The only time I feel comfortable is when my guy friend is with me. Maybe you should see if one of your male friends will go and lift with you, just to make you feel more comfortable.

BUBBLEJ1 Posts: 2,981
12/20/12 3:45 P

They are really nice guys, honest! All the guys in the weights area at my gym are lovely, apart from the really young ones, but all they do is lift up their shirts to see their ab. Singular. They probably won't even notice you. The ones that do will admire you, since you are giving weights a go.

When I first went into the weights area I was nearly 190lb. No one stared, or looked, or questioned why I was there. Unlike the guys, who chat like nothing else, I went in, got my workout done and then left. I was there for a purpose, I was entitled to be there, so no one batted an eyelid. When the time came that I needed help and the trainer was busy with a PT session I asked for help from one of the guys and he was very helpful and polite.

12/20/12 12:32 P

I think you've gotten some great advice here. I've been lifting for a couple of years and it's usually just me and a few guys, mostly policemen and firemen. I'm always happy when another lady lifts so just do it! Maybe you can start things off at your gym and make other ladies feel comfortable about moving into the weights area.

Don't worry about those guys. Most of them are sweet as can be and only look intimidating. One thing that will go far is to know your gym etiquette. Lifting, just like any other sport, has rules and etiquette and you will get points from your lifting peers just by being courteous.

Have fun with it!

N16351D Posts: 2,349
12/20/12 11:42 A

Try reading other threads on this subject such as, "Embarrassed at the gym," and "Embarrassed to walk."

Bite the bullet and go for it. Most people are not thinking about other people, they are thinking about themselves and their workout. Many will be very supportive and proud of you for taking on a challenge, starting something difficult.

I didn't know what to do with weights when I started so I did two things. 1) Took a strength training class where we use free weight. 2) Read Bill Phillips book, "Body for Life", then took it to the gym with me and read the pages and did the workout at the same time.

I set myself up for looking pretty stupid by learning to lift weights by reading a book! It was cheaper than a trainer and it worked! I know exactly what to do and how much weight to lift!

Go for it!

KRISTEN_SAYS SparkPoints: (81,670)
Fitness Minutes: (47,978)
Posts: 5,092
12/20/12 10:27 A

I would definitely feel the same way, but in reality, everyone is paying attention to their own workouts.

CORTNEY-LEE SparkPoints: (67,852)
Fitness Minutes: (69,867)
Posts: 3,526
12/20/12 10:16 A

The only thing I really notice is people's shoes...

I think that once you throw yourself into it, after a few times it will seem like second nature

DIDS70 Posts: 5,368
12/20/12 10:05 A

When I was going to a gym, I had a trainer for a few sessions just to learn some routines and make sure i am getting the right form. Once I got there on my own I was ok. One of the nicest things that happened: I was using one of the machines and didn't have the correct form. One of the members actually stopped and helped me. Then after I got the form right he turned back to what he was doing.

KNELKINS SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 127
12/20/12 9:17 A

I felt the exact same way before beginning to strength train: intimidated, nervous, and self-conscious. It took me a while before I mustered up the guts to start lifting heavy objects around. Once I decided to do it though, I joined a proper gym with all the equipment I needed and just walked directly into the free weight section without allowing myself the option of getting on a cardio machine first. It was nerve-racking, and I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. I also felt out of place because the gym was sharply divided with all the women over on the cardio machines all the way across the room and all the men, most of whom appeared to be serious lifters, on the side I chose to go to. Most of the time, when people are actively lifting, they're not paying attention to anything else but the hard task at hand. But there is a lot of resting, especially if one is lifting heavy. So in my experience, I did get noticed, I did get stared at, and several people approached me. But every single person reacted to me positively. I was new to the gym, so people would say things like, "It's great to see a new face over here" or "We haven't met, I'm so-and-so; if you ever need any help or a spotter, just give me a holler." And even though I was nervous for a while, and even though I got unwanted attention, it not only didn't bother me but made me feel comfortable working out alongside everyone and also made me feel comfortable asking someone to spot me when I wanted to do a hard lift. Another approach that has made me more comfortable is simply to ask someone if I have a question or want some advice. If you are feeling unsure, then asking one of the staff or even one of your fellow lifters (if you can trust their judgment and are secure enough in your own knowledge of form and your own personal goals) a question really helps make you more confident when you pursue the exercise you're unsure about. One thing that is important, especially when doing free weights, is to research the exercises extensively on your own so that you can be sure to use proper form, or else rely on a trainer you trust. This will go a long way to give you confidence and is necessary so you don't injure yourself. I would have a plan, be as researched as possible about the exercise you're going to do, and be willing to ask questions about equipment or specifics if you are unsure. And know that even if people do notice you, it is in all likelihood that they are impressed with you for journeying over from the other side of the room, as long as you are courteous and respectful. And almost everyone loves being able to help if they can. Everyone remembers their little bird days of lifting and how much courage it takes to begin. Good luck, and I can virtually guarantee that you won't be disappointed. It's one of the most satisfying things I have done for myself, and most people feel the same way.

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
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12/20/12 8:56 A

Let me tell you a little secret:

They don't care about you! No, really! Most people in the weights area (or even the cardio areas) are focused on one things: themselves. They're trying to maintain their form (those mirrors aren't just for checking yourself out!), thinking about their next set, or just trying not to fall over. The odds are, you aren't even on their radar. If they notice anyone, it'll be the hot little gym bunnies they're trying to impress.

Of those that might notice you? They're unlikely to notice you for long, and if they think anything at all about you, they're not going to do or say anything, anyway.

So there's nothing to be afraid of. The fact is, you don't register to 99.9% of the other people there. I learned that at most, my gym interactions involve a nod as you pass... not even a hello.

So don't sweat it. GEt out there, and get lifting. :) Your body will be glad you did!

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,451
12/20/12 6:47 A

It is normally in the gym's interest that you know how to use the equipment safely, and generally a staff member should be willing to at least demo the equipment for you.

Alternatively, you could hire a personal trainer to not just demo the equipment, but to set up a strength training routine for you - this should ensure that you are not just working out safely, but effectively as well. This may cost you, but it should only require 1 or 2 sessions, rather than being a regular ongoing engagement. Not sure if it is within your budget or not?


ZORBS13 SparkPoints: (196,755)
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Posts: 15,854
12/20/12 5:38 A

as a trainer and long time gym observer, I can say with absolute confidence, that 99% of guys at the gym, even though they look muscular, have no idea what the hell they're doing at the gym either...they just look like it.

So why can't you do that? There are plenty of resources to learn to lift, and you go in the free weight area with confidence and do your thing.

Edited by: ZORBS13 at: 12/20/2012 (05:39)
NAUSIKAA Posts: 4,848
12/20/12 4:48 A

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

- bodybuilders know how hard it is. They work really hard and show tremendous discipline to get where they are. That translates to them being more respectful than the average Joe of anyone else who is starting to work out on weights. I've seen this again and again. The most intimidating looking guy in the gym is usually the nicest and the most respectful! Surprises a lot of people....

- lifting free weights and using weight machines uses "muscle memory." That means that once you do it a few times, it becomes second nature and you don't even have to think about it. So yes, you do have to go out on a limb, but trust that after 3-4 days of doing it, you will feel 1000x better about what you're doing.

- you need to bite the bullet and just start. It is always a good idea to have a program -- what I do is I have a small notebook and each week, I write out my program for the week - one page per day. So it will say #1 - Monday, December 24, 2012: Pushups: 2 sets of 6, etc. Bring this with you to the gym (you may notice bodybuilders and other serious gym users doing the same thing) so that you can pressure yourself to actually do the exercises you want to do, rather than just deciding to put it off for another day (something about having the date written on it makes me do it even if I'd rather not!).

- as long as you respect gym etiquette: don't talk on cell phone, don't rest on equipment if someone is waiting to use it ("to work in with you" i.e., take turns doing sets on a single piece of equipment), don't leave sweat everywhere, put your weights away after using them, etc -- no one is going to "mind" that you're there.

My gym has a very wide variety of clientele: everyone from professional bodybuilders to very frail elderly women trying to improve their arthritis or whatever. We ALL pay the same membership fee and we ALL have the same right to be there. Because my gym is very inexpensive, we have lots of new people every week. It's actually nice to see them on the weight equipment (for experienced lifters like me) because everyone knows that it's easiest to just walk on the treadmill. I only do strength work (no cardio at the gym) and we do have a pretty big group of cardio-only members. If I saw one of them on the weights, I'd be saying "you go girl!!" in my head. (If I noticed... to be honest, most of the time I don't even see other people at all because I'm trying not to drop a barbell on my face or trying not to fall off the pullup bar -- and this is the case for most people most of the time).

- no one goes to the gym to "people watch" or to be critical of others.

- even if you can't afford a personal trainer, someone at the gym should still show you how to use the machines without you paying extra. That's the case at every gym simply to avoid lawsuits from injuries. Free weights -- you might want to check out for demonstrations of pretty much all the major free weight exercises. And don't write off bodyweight exercises (pushups, pullups, dips etc - with or without assistance) as these can be some of the most effective exercises you can do.

- ENJOY the gym! When I finally after ages of doing cardio got over my strength training at the gym phobia, I discovered my favorite fitness activity! So now I only do strength training anymore haha! You could end up like me or the many other SP members who fell in love with ST after being afraid of it for a while!

SP_COACH_NANCY SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 46,222
12/20/12 12:12 A

Hi Kristen,

I can understand how intimidating that must be, however, in all reality most people at the gym are so focused on what they are doing, they really don't pay much attention to what others are doing. Just like anything else, jumping in is the easiest way to gain confidence. Remember we all had to start somewhere.

You can do this!

Coach Nancy

12/19/12 11:43 P

I've been going to my gym for quite some time, but have only been utilizing cardio equipment. Almost every day, I say I am going to try to tackle the strength training equipment, but once I am there, I get very intimidated and self-conscious. Whenever I go, the area(s) are full of body-building men. It puts me off a little bit being an overweight woman! How can I get over this? Just bite the bullet? I was considering finding a personal trainer, but I really cannot afford that route.

I've been doing some small things at home using weights, but I really would like to get my money's worth at the gym...Plus, the machines are a lot better.

I need a dose of confidence emoticon

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