Being intimidated at the gym is normal. So normal that the hashtag #shygirlworkout on TikTok has racked up over 370 million views to date. The videos aren’t just trendy but tap into the reality of the anxiety that many people — particularly women — experience while working out at the gym.
Because #ShyGirlWorkouts require minimal equipment and often can be done within a small space, they are a great place to start your fitness journey. But let’s be honest: How long do you want to be stuck in a corner sweating your butt off? You owe it to yourself to push through your initial trepidation and graduate to using the whole gym — and feel confident enough to do so.
“When you are looking to achieve a fitness or wellness goal, having confidence in yourself can help you achieve those goals,” AKT’s master trainer Sasha Mihovilovic tells Lifehacker. “I am a former professional dancer and when I first started going to the gym, I used to feel super intimidated. I had no clue what to do or where to start.”
Below, trainers and fitness instructors share their best gym tips to improve your confidence while at the gym so you can feel like you belong.
Take a group class
#ShyGirlWorkouts are solo missions. If you want to start interacting with the gym more and are not sure where to start, Mihovilovic recommends joining a group class.
“Group classes are an amazing way to help build your confidence,” she says. “In a group-class environment, you can meet others who love the types of workouts you love and truly find your community. Making new friends can increase your sense of belonging and purpose, and reduce stress.”
And if you find yourself getting nervous in the group workout environment, Mihovilovic says it’s important to remind yourself that everyone is in the same boat. They’re participating because they, too, want a community experience and you need each other’s energy for motivation.
Another confidence-building element of a group class is that you have an instructor leading you safely through the class and cheering you on the whole time. “Then the more you go back to that instructor’s class, they will see your growth over time,” Mihovilovic says. “When you have someone who knows how much you have improved, even after just a few classes, you’ll start feeling super accomplished, leading to some major confidence-building.”
Hire a personal trainer
While this might be a pricey option for some, it might be an investment worth making if it will help you use your gym membership to its fullest capacity. “Often, people enter a gym and compare themselves to others, or they become overwhelmed by the options in front of them,” says Adaeze Merenini, a personal trainer at Crunch Franchise. “A lack of knowledge in what to do at the gym also can make the experience overwhelming because it’s hard for anyone to feel confident in a subject with no true knowledge of it.”
That’s why she recommends working with a personal trainer to help foster confidence at the gym. “Trainers will help teach you to move safely and act as a guide through the gym floor, serving as both an accountability partner and a familiar person in a new space,” she says.
The investment of a personal trainer needn’t be long-term: Even hiring a trainer for a month or two could help with garnering the knowledge and confidence you need to use the gym like a champ.
Make gym time “fun time”
Most of us dread going to the gym whether we’re #shygirls or not. But both Mihovilovic and Merenini recommend focusing on feeling good before you hit the gym. This way you not only feel like your best self when you enter the gym, but you can also ride this feeling to work out no matter who’s watching.
“The way you are feeling externally can really impact the way you are feeling internally,” Mihovilovic says. “When I am on my way to the gym and I am rocking out to my favourite playlist, enjoying a tasty cold brew, and feeling super cute in my workout “fit” — I am ready to bring my sassy, most confident self to the gym.”
Merenini agrees that “looking the part” boosts confidence to start something new. “Invest in comfortable, fun gym clothes and have a great playlist on hand. Music helps reduce anxiety and stress and makes the time pass through the tough exercises.”
Mihovilovic recommends preparing and organising the night before with your outfit pre-set, having your pre- or post-workout fuel planned out, and your playlist ready to go. “Just that little bit of organisation can make you wake up confident, proud of yourself, and help you feel ready to unlock your potential,” she says.
The more consistent you are in following through with your fitness goals, including showing up to the gym and trying a new machine or a new group class, the more confidence you’ll have to take up more space, Merenini says.
“Consistency removes the guesswork of what to expect,” she says. “Knowing what to expect and becoming more familiar with the space allows a person to improve their abilities, which will result in a higher level of confidence.”
She encourages creating a weekly schedule and having a plan as to what each workout will entail for the day, “since this will lessen the stress of what to do and offer a distraction from what others are doing. Building consistency builds familiarity, which aids in developing confidence.”
The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans
Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.