We all have insecurities but we all share the same one around fitness. It varies from individuals but we all have some degree of fitness insecurity. There are plenty of articles on how to overcome those insecurities but it’s easier said than done. So let’s take a look at what you can do on your own to build your confidence to go to the gym or group fitness workout.
A Google search will show you over 11 million results for fitness insecurity and how to overcome it through various techniques. Like shopping around for a gym that’s less intimidating, keep showing up, stay motivated, make it fun, etc. Let’s face it, it’s not going to happen overnight and it’s not easy to do if you’re already insecure about your body. Just to be clear, this is not just women, men have the same insecurities, we just don’t talk about it or are better at hiding it.
Of course, it doesn’t help when you have magazine covers that are photoshopped or Barbie dolls with unrealistic proportions. Men to a much lesser degree have also been influenced through the evolution of GI Joe action figures as to the ideal male body image. Women definitely have had it harder. My point is that the issue around body image isn’t unique to women. Any guy that doesn’t feel just a little insecure seeing a photo of a shirtless Jason Mamoa, Channing Tatum, or Dwayne Johnson is lying. Sorry ladies, I’m not going to post images of these guys just to improve our SEO and Google ranking (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).
Gymtimidation is a term I came across while researching this topic:
the fear of working out in front of others. … Almost a third (32%) reported feeling intimidated when exercising in the vicinity of someone who is in great shape. And 17% felt wary when working out in front of someone of the opposite sex.
Even 36% were intimidated just running outside on their own. I remember feeling that way too when I first started. I didn’t want to be judged. What if I run funny? What if I was too slow? I’m not a real runner.
I remember when we had Dani Grabol on The RUNATL Podcast. She was overweight and was intimidated by going to a gym that she worked out at home for months before she had enough confidence to go to a gym and workout in front of others. That’s incredible to hear once you learn that she is now an accomplished athlete having done several endurance events including cycling across the U.S., Ironman, and the first woman to not only sign up but finish the Epic 5 Challenge (5 back to back iron distance races over 5 consecutive days). The first step she had to take was to gain confidence by starting out at home.
I also reached out to Twitter to get some additional perspective and got a response from a trainer that trains her clients in their home, office, or gym depending on the circumstances. Sometimes it comes down to time and better time management but she also stated that some of her clients just aren’t comfortable in a gym. I’ll be honest, there was a time when I felt uncomfortable going into a gym and when I did, I went when it wasn’t so busy. Even now, I stick to the machines and won’t venture into the free-weight area.
So now that we’ve established that we’re all insecure about our fitness or body image, how do we overcome it? I think following Dani Grabol’s example is the first step. Start working out at home. There are quite a few different programs that you can do at home including Beach Body, P90X, Insanity, just to name a few, and they’re probably successful because many feel more comfortable working out in the comfort of their own home. However, you don’t have to spend any money if you want to work out in the comfort of your own home. Youtube is a great resource and I’ll share a couple of channels that do a really good job and provide great information. Of course, before you start any strenuous physical program, make sure you’ve checked in with your doctor.
Athlene-X: This channel is hosted by Jeff Cavaliere, a physical therapist & strength coach. He really understands the human anatomy and makes it very easy to explain why certain exercises work better than others as well as explaining how to do the exercises correctly to not only avoid injury but get the best results. And while he’s not a runner, he understands, as a physical therapist how to best treat running-related injuries and explain why the injury occurred in the first place. Many of his workouts can be done right at home simply using your own body weight. I also like that he keeps it real, he lets you know that you’ve got to put the work in, eating properly is key, and he explains the science behind the workouts. He frequently will take markers and draw on his own body to explain how muscles are positioned in the body and how a specific workout builds strength in those muscles.
Yoga With Adriene: She’s got over 5 million subscribers and was recently featured on The Today Show. Her dog Benji makes frequent appearances, and who doesn’t like dogs. She has videos segmented by time so if you want to do something quick she’s got videos under 10-minutes, 10-15 minutes, 20-25 minutes, and others as well. Adriene also has a specific set of videos just for us beginners.
Working out at home is going to give you more confidence (as long as you’re consistent with it). Once you gain confidence, the fears and uncomfortable feeling about going into a gym, yoga studio, or group fitness will start going away. Once you start gaining your confidence, then check out a gym/studio that doesn’t feel intimidating. Then step up and actually go and workout. Sign up at a local yoga studio or group fitness. Once you’ve gained that confidence staying motivated becomes easier. Once you see the progress you’ve achieved you’ll start to realize not to compare yourself to anyone else and that fitness insecurity will go away.
Big Peach Running Co. is always a resource and you can reach out to our stores at any time but we also have free resources online, like the RUNATL Podcast. The latest RUNATL Podcast featured Joy Tribble, the founder of The Plus Strut 5K. A 5K for the average woman or as they call it, “the curviest 5K in the planet”. We also offer free social runs that are open to all individuals of all paces. Many of us started exactly where you are today so there’s no judgment.
If you have experienced fitness insecurity, I hope you know you’re not alone. Let’s take this journey together and become a healthier version of ourselves no matter what that looks like.