Exercise the way you feel comfortable

This article first appeared on Grazia Daily on 10 September, 2015

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Image: Instagram.com/lovelypepa

‘Gymtimidation’ has become a real worry for people looking to lose weight and be healthy. It’s something which affects a large percentage of our population because the perception attached to regular workouts in the gym often intimidates new or potential members.

The image of skinny girls in crop tops and booty shorts is what comes to mind when we think about gym and this has made people, mainly women who are trying to get into shape, feel ashamed of attending a gym. They become self-conscious of what people will say/think of them and therefore don’t go.

Gareth Powell, sports science and nutritional expert at USN, suggests ways in which you can conquer gymtimidation:

·         Don’t compare yourself to anybody. Your only competition is yourself. You don’t know the other person’s story, what drives them and how long they have been training. Research shows that the main reason why people refrain from attending a gym is because of psychological reasons. They are either afraid of being laughed at, fear of the environment or are uncomfortable in their own skin because ‘fit and beautiful’ surrounds them.

·         If you’re worried about entering a gym and not knowing what to do, where to start and how to use the machines, ask one of the knowledgeable and friendly floor staff. You can even log on to YouTube and search for different video tutorials that show you how to work every muscle and even learn fun routines to practice at home so you know what to do at the gym. Also explore the possibility of getting a personal trainer to show you the reigns and get you into a workout routine to ease your fear. This will help you train with the correct form and will avoid you injuring yourself as a result.

·         Find a gym or fitness alternative which suits you best. There are many alternatives to a commercial gym available to you.  If it’s not your thing, try new workouts lie outdoor planned fitness classes, running clubs or CrossFit – which is hardcore High intensity Interval Training exercises performed under restricted time constraints. There are also gyms for unique needs such as Roark and Curves; entering these gyms if you are uncomfortable with your weight are not as intimidating.

·         Dress in a way that makes you comfortable and not the way you feel you should dress. This doesn’t mean that you should get the most expensive and trendy clothes for the gym, it’s about having the right underwear, pants, shoes and socks. This is important for you to feel comfortable, confident and to avoid injuries.

·         Popping in earphones and working out to a playlist of music you love will also ease anxiety by blocking out the people and gear around you. It’ll make you feel less self-conscious and more in your own world.

·         Join a group class. This will help you blend into your surroundings, help you socialise and make friends to gym with while increasing your fitness level in a fun way.

“Gym should not be a place which is feared but rather a place which improves people’s health and wellness. Don’t let your mind get the better of you. By following the above tips – you will not be a victim of gymtimidation,”says Powell. “Take it a day at a time and always remain positive and have a goal in mind. Remember your mind the most powerful tool you have at your disposal.”

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