How to Feel Confident Lifting Weights at the Gym

I always looked “good” in clothes. I was thin, but actually really high body fat percentage. I did home workouts that were mainly cardio and body weight-based.

I started to feel so bored with fitness partially because I wasn’t evolving with knowledge by following “programs” I bought or doing group classes. I also wasn’t changing the shape of my body at all. Actually, looking back, my weight was dropping but I was losing muscle. I got to 118 lbs but was 30% body fat.

Finally, I was fed up with working hard and not seeing the results I wanted so I joined a gym.

Gymtimidation- The feeling of being nervous, intimidated, insecure, or anxious about the gym surroundings of equipment or people at a certain athletic level.

Believe it or not, I was very intimidated.

I hid in the back of group classes. I didn’t use the machines.

I ended up sticking to my home routines but did them alone in the cardio room.

I noticed there were two main reasons I wasn’t confident with lifting weights at the gym…

  • I was so scared of doing things wrong or looking silly. I mean some people there are balls-to-the-wall with their intensity and slamming weights; surely I would stand out like a sore thumb because I wasn’t an athlete.
  • I didn’t have much knowledge on how to lift the goals I had since I was used to doing more cardio. How many reps? What do I do first? What do I set this machine at? How do I even use this thing?

I finally just asked a trainer to show me some things and paid for personal training sessions.

I am so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone that day because without doing so, I would not be training at the level I am, loving my badass body, or coaching women on how to build theirs.

So what are my secrets to feeling confident AF with lifting at the gym?

Here are my tips for feeling more confident with lifting so you can actually reach your goals… Ladies, step away from the treadmill.

Choose the Right Gym for You

This is probably a no-brainer but may be overlooked. If you prefer to be around women only, don’t join a co-ed gym. If you aren’t looking to beat the clock or go max intensity, don’t sign up to CrossFit gyms. If you’re brand new to working out, maybe don’t join something intense like Orange Theory. Most gyms offer a day or week trial pass so just get your feet wet and see how it goes. You can always start with what you are most comfortable with and then progress to a new place!

Keep It Basic

Too often, I see girls try to do cool exercises they found on YouTube or Instagram. Cool does not mean it’s effective or something you should be doing for your ability level. Likewise, if it’s an advanced move (let’s say a deadlift) don’t jump right to that. Work on the foundational movements first. As you improve, you can move to advanced exercises. This will prevent you from feeling silly from improper form.

Realize No One Cares

In all seriousness, no one is watching you like you think they are. I will be honest. People who you might feel “gymtimidated” by are super into themselves, but also into their workout. They are focusing on their music, form, breathing, counting, reps, etc so they honestly probably don’t even notice you are there. The only way they are going to stare at you is if you start doing something absurd like these people… but I am guessing you have common sense.

Be Consistent

The worst thing you can do is show up to the gym randomly throughout the year and expect to get more comfortable. This is going to be something you have to practice often. When you learned how to write as a little kid, you practiced it daily at school. Think of learning to lift the same way! By going consistently, you also learn the layout which will help you be more efficient. The members will start to recognize you and seem more friendly as well.

Dress the Part

You know the saying that if you dress for the job you want, you go in with more confidence? Same thing here. Don’t roll in with a giant sloppy T-shirt and baggy shorts if that doesn’t make you feel good. Get yourself a new workout outfit that makes you feel amazing and naturally you will feel more confident!

Have Realistic Expectations.

This isn’t something that you will feel really confident with overnight. It took me months to feel okay with knowing what to do without my trainer, pushing myself to try a new exercise or piece of equipment, etc. Anything new will be foreign until you get used to it.

Don’t go in thinking “I am going to train for an hour and have the best workout of my life” but rather “I am here to learn and get better.” That might mean just sticking to what you know and trying 1-2 new exercises vs trying an entirely new routine you found online. Also, don’t try to train with 100% intensity until you know what you are doing. Intensity is part of advancing, so start slow.

Have a Plan

Do not, I repeat DO NOT, show up to the gym and just hop on machines all willy-nilly. Decide what you are going to do before you go. If you are unsure, look up a free workout online or just a few exercises to try. Write them down or make a note on your phone. You can also search for a form video on YouTube. (The app I use for my clients has form videos with their exercises which are SO helpful!)

Listen to Your Favorite Music

Putting on music that makes you feel good will boost your confidence but also distract you from thinking about what everyone around you is doing.

Workout During Slow Hours

If you aren’t very comfortable with routines or machines yet, going during peak hours can be a bit overwhelming. There will be more people which may be more stressful, but the equipment is also less open. When you visit during slow hours, you can take your time without someone feeling like you are hogging equipment. You also can have access to more things without having to try and strategize some swaps.

Don’t Compare Yourself

Remember… everyone was a beginner once. Don’t look at an advanced athlete and feel inferior. We all have different stories and are on entirely different chapters. As you get going, realize that beginners will look up to you!

I hope this guide and these tips can help you get more comfortable with lifting and being outside of your home or the group classes. I am living proof that resistance training can shape and sculpt your body. Go get some girls!

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