You walk into the gym during peak hours, change into your cutest fitness apparel, and visualize the “fitspirational” quote you posted on Pinterest the night before. With your earbuds blasting your favorite tunes, you walk out to the weight room floor to see it packed with bro-tank clad, headphone wearing, grunting dudes pumping iron, and then turn right around and head to the comfortable cardio machine you use every day.
Does this sound like you or someone you know? Do you feel intimidated by the weight room because it’s overrun with alpha males? This is the scenario creating gender segregation of ladies doing cardio and men lifting heavy.
The growth of CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting, and the “strong is the new sexy” tagline have encouraged more women to add regular strength training to their daily fitness regimen. But as a female trainer, I often witness women shying away from entering the weight room. A large percentage of my female clientele tell me, “I just don’t know what to do” when I ask them if they ever strength train on their own.
My goal with any client, and particularly female clients, is to get them comfortable in the gym so they can feel confident in the weight room. Women are often “gymtimidated” by the weight room, missing out on benefits of resistance training like stronger bones, weight loss, and stress relief. They are self-segregating themselves to the “women’s area” of the gym, cardio, or classes.
Here are a few things that can help any female take that first step outside of her comfort zone and into the weight room of any gym:
- Get a trainer: Even better, get a female trainer. He or she will give you the training program and form cues to make sure you are performing exercises correctly. Book a few sessions and spend the majority of your time with him or her in the weight room to get comfortable with navigating the equipment.
- Bring a buddy (not your partner): It’s always easier to take on a new environment when you have a friend with you. I mention a friend rather than a partner because if he or she is more comfortable in the weight room than you, the workout will be swayed towards his or her own goals. Join up with a lifting buddy and make a plan together. You may not be lifting the same weight but you can spot each other and motivate each other.
- Find a specialized gym or program: Similar to getting a trainer, but maybe joining a large club isn’t in your budget or your style. Try a smaller, local, specialized gym that offers classes for beginning lifters. You will learn correct form, safe training, and enjoy a group-training atmosphere.
- Be confident: Why do you think there are mirrors all over gyms? Because everyone is looking at themselves. The number one thing I tell hesitant clients is that nobody is watching you because they are all watching themselves. Walk in with confidence, work with confidence, and leave with confidence.
- Work out at your pace: Any workout you do should be for you and your health. Find the right pace and progression that is right for you and push your comfort zone a little bit with each workout. Every person’s body is different so every person’s workout can be different also.
Men and women should take advantage of all equipment a gym offers. “Gymtimidation” is often self-inflicted and can be easily overcome by a small step outside of your comfort zone.
Trying to change what you see in the mirror? Start between the ears: