Building Confidence in the Gym

Written by Caroline Sparno


March 15, 2021

For many people, the gym is a daunting place. Upon walking in there are dozens of machines, cable attachments, and pieces of equipment that may be unfamiliar. There could be louder music playing, classes occurring, weights dropping loudly, and members performing seemingly complicated movements. It’s a lot of stimuli, and it’s understandable if it causes you to feel overwhelmed at first. Though, have no fear! After reading this post, you will be equipped with techniques and skills to build your confidence in the gym, making your workouts not only productive, but enjoyable!

Determine the SOURCE

Before offering confidence-building strategies, it’s necessary to understand what the root of your lack of confidence is. Is it based on a lack of knowledge? Are you fearful of being judged? Do you have general discomfort in the gym? Do you arrive at the gym with a plan?


So first, let’s talk about knowledge. For certain people, not knowing how to operate a machine, do a certain exercise, or use a piece of equipment can cause considerable distress, embarrassment, and lack of confidence overall. The good news is that the coaches at NexT are more than happy to help you, whether that means demonstrating proper technique, offering guidance on progressions or regressions, or explaining the function of a movement. We don’t breathe fire; I promise. We want to see you succeed, so please don’t hesitate to approach us, whether that’s out on the floor, or a direct message on social media. Remember, the more knowledgeable you are, the more comfortable you will feel exercising and the more confident you will be.

Is it fear of judgement that fuels your insecurity? The most important factor to remember is that the majority of people entering the gym arrive with the goal of self-improvement. Whether it’s body recomposition, adding muscle-mass, strength training, power training, speed work, etc. the unifying factor is the goals are self-driven. Those goals are not contingent upon others. In other words, people are at the gym to focus on themselves, not to sit around judging others. Remind yourself of this! Also, if there is someone you feel is judging you, remember that it’s more of a reflection of how that person feels about themself than how they feel about you. Additional strategies to block out feelings of judgement include listening to your favorite hype music, dressing in a workout outfit that makes you feel like a *Boss*, focusing on your workout, disregarding what others are doing around you, and speaking positively to yourself. Mindset informs behavior. So if you tell yourself you can, your chances are much higher than if you constantly tell yourself you can’t or you’re too nervous to try.

Does discomfort impede your confidence at the gym? A common example is females being afraid to approach certain areas of the gym, like the dumbbell racks, when the gym is primarily male occupied. Maybe you feel like they know more than you, so you don’t want to “get in the way” or are afraid to ask people to give you some space. Remind yourself that seasoned gym-goers do not have any more of a right to be at the gym than you. So, don’t be afraid to TAKE UP SPACE and use your voice. Someone’s too close? Ask them politely to move over. Someone jumped on a machine you are still using? Tell them politely that you are still using it and give them a time frame for when you’ll be finished. Not only will you feel empowered by speaking up for yourself, but the more you practice this, the easier it gets.

Do you come to the gym with a plan? Think of it this way: anytime you have a big goal you plan to achieve, what do you do? You break down the goal into manageable pieces and make a plan for accomplishing the smaller pieces, and then eventually the larger goal. Regardless of whether you have a large goal (ie squatting 200lbs) or a somewhat smaller one (ie prioritizing movement in your life), arriving with a plan at the gym will help you hit the ground running with your workout rather than wandering around aimlessly, jumping on whatever equipment is open. Having a plan allows for increased focus, and focus can boost your confidence exponentially! As mentioned, determining your goals will make planning infinitely easier. Feel free to reach out to any of the coaches to book a free session and we can help you with this step.

Final Thoughts

The keys to increasing your confidence in the gym are being knowledgeable, being internally focused, being an advocate for yourself, and being plan-driven/goal-oriented. Practice these strategies, and watch your confidence soar in no time.

-Coach Caroline

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