How to combat gym intimidation

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

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Gym intimidation is like hay fever. You are going good in life and then you try the gym out only to get stung by past and present anxieties and fears. You suffer this flare-up that occurs once you enter the gym and blocks you from living life fully thanks to all the symptoms of your anxieties. You can not ease that with a 24 hour anti-histamine. 

Now, I haven't conquered gym intimidation. 
Sometimes, I have those days. Yet, on these days I still complete what I came into the gym to do. 
Thus, I am fully qualified to be a gym guru. On this one topic.

So here are a few ways you could combat your gym intimidation.


#1 Figure out why your in the gym? What are your personal fitness goals?


Is the gym for you? Are you following a trend? Was it a doctors order?

It may seem the most convenient place to get your daily exercise, long opening hours, all weather and all year access. However, the gym and the exercises one can do inside are not the only forms of exercise in this world. Many of them can be carried out at home or outside. Or you could take up team sports, swimming, rowing, walking, dancing climbing, golfing and more. 
There are multitudes of activities you could participate in to stay active, individually or team wise. 

My mum's favourite form of exercise is walking and its great for her, obviously some seasons are better than others but its her thing. When I say she can walk, she can walk. The woman will walk miles and whilst moments she has to endure she also enjoys it.

It can really help to decrease the pressure of being in an unfamiliar environment if you are there for yourself doing something that whilst making you sweat and look like a hot mess, also gets your adrenaline up. It would help to enjoy and endure the activity rather than it being exercise you dread and fail to endure.

So if the gym is something you think or know you may enjoy. What would you like out of it, strength, cardio, group exercise? How do you want to be shaped in four months? On most gym forms I have seen the recurring question is "what is your personal goal". In the beginning I wrote "to tone and be lean". Thoughtless answer because I didn't know. I probably just wanted to look like Gymshark sponsored me. 

Since I have made the conscious effort to think about my personal goals, it has helped me maintain a healthy self body image and realistic expectations. I am not in there to kill myself under weights I can not lift. I am there to maintain a healthy lifestyle so I am that 85 year old who walks unaided and runs two kilometres once every week. 

Make a conscious effort to make some goals short or long term. Even if its to just have a try and have some fun. Now why you are in there. If you are in there losing weight, gaining muscle whatever you may be. Be aware you will see body shapes and sizes galore. If your vulnerable and not there for your growth you endanger yourself from self comparison and the like. 

Be there for you! 





#2 Get acquainted with the environment and equipment


Hug the treadmill. Sing to the dumb-bells. If that will help you with any fears of the unfamiliar equipment.

Better yet find a gym buddy or friend who has some experience with the equipment to accompany you one time or perhaps more to teach and assist you. This is the zero dollars option, the free option. 
As is the option to ask gym staff. 
But I understand how for some this option may not work at times, especially if you require more one on one time to grasp the coordination of equipment or you would like someone to correct your form if perhaps your embarrassed or fear hurting yourself. Then again the staff maybe be in rotation and needed for assistance by others so its not beneficial for you to wait ten minutes to get them as they float around. 

This option is for those who are willing to spend or "invest" some money.
I suggest looking into the programs your gym offers. Mine offered a gym appraisal every couple of months, which involves an hour with a trainer who weighs and measures you, takes your blood pressure, asks some questions about your health and personal goals. In that time they develop a program specifically for you. In these sessions I was shown how to use all the equipment in the workout program which after two of these and two new programs was most of the equipment in the gym. 
It was demonstrated and I was given an attempt or several. If with weights I was shown how to perform the exercise and change the weights. This was great because I had this expert with their attention fully on me, which whilst daunting and I felt vulnerable. I had some peace in finally been shown how things worked, being told how my form was even being pushed just for an hour.

If your gym offers anything similar I would recommend you jump on it.
If not find a friend who can be a gym buddy even if they are also in unfamiliar surroundings, you may be able to feed off each other, bounce back from any mishaps of failures together and ask staff for the both of you.



#3 SMILE


I once forgot to place my towel before sitting down for a second and remembering. Just long enough to place a large sweat mark on the seat. I sat covering this stain with my towel for ten minutes, embarrassing, really embarrassing. 

If your antsy about the people around you who are so focused on their own thing. Smile.
Invite more positivity by smiling. The reaction you get is usually a smile back and once you get that smile back your fighting those thoughts that all these gym fanatics are not human or their judging your every move. 

Smile these people are as human as you are and just because they show and up and go for it in the gym most days does not mean they are all one person or having it easy and good outside. Smile and show some support. You'll get some back.



#4 Find your gym buddy


I still get irrationally intimidated when I see groups of people in the gym who know each other. How are four adults so well organised and in synch to be in the same place at the same time two days in a row?
I personally still don't have a gym buddy per say, we started going together after I developed much of my confidence but the few times we have been in are so different from days I go alone. 
It does depend on the person but there is another source of moral support and if a mishap does happen there is someone to laugh with you. If your going in with someone and both of you are hoping to get a good sweat and have a good time, it becomes more than just daily physical exercise or a day on the program its also social. Social exercise is a thing?

As their attention is with you and yours with them, you can spend less time worrying about the other people in the gym as you get along in your workout. There is also the benefit in sharing workouts, drafting them together and teaching one another exercises. Whether your workouts will be strict or may include changes as you just enjoy exercising with good company, even if its for a few sessions or once a week haul a buddy in. 
It can really help to have those first few failures with someone who can help lighten the situation.





#5 Ask the gym staff for help


If you smile at them they usually smile back. If you say hi they respond to. 
It may be because they are paid to but generally their nice friendly people. They don't just have conversations or help people who have come to this one gym for the past two years. 
If you need help with form or need to ask if equipment that you just tried to adjust is broken. They know this place and its their job to be of assistance. 
If your worried about how lost you will look asking for help for the third time in one hour, honey I did it more than that. 
Think about your health and safety and brave it, perhaps if you are alone that communication can help ease your nerves. 




#6 Google or youtube it


When I get overwhelmed by my form but don't feel like asking anyone, I station myself in front of the mirror and watch a youtube video then copy.
If I forget how to perform some exercises I google or youtube. 
There are millions of videos and articles out there on how to correct your posture for a variety of exercises. 
A lot of people do this, some people I have seen on the floor are watching and following full workout videos. 
If you just need that reminder or want to try something new have a good search, follow and listen along. It could help you as you establish your own confidence in your skill.




#7 Go to the gym when its quiet or deserted 


I went solo to the gym many times and didn't complete or enjoy workouts wholly because my anxiety overwhelmed me. 
Going in quiet times is great for gaining experience and control in exercises and use of equipment in a comfortable setting. 
I generally found early mornings were the most quiet so a couple of days I woke up at 5.30 am for the 6 am sweat out. It also boosted my morale for the day as I started off purposeful and determined. 
It was easy to get in my zone with so few people around to spark worries and I had this excitement to try new things with most of the gym fanatics not in their usual areas. 

Of course there may be other times your in the gym and its peak hours. However, if you have grown accustomed to knowing your way in this environment there is no need for you to run out. You know what your doing, your form has been improving, the only difference being the number of people around. They are are not your audience they are there to get their daily endorphin hit too. So pay them no mind. You have gone through this workout before just do it again, you know how to hold your own here.
Get your own endorphins for the day. 






#8 Show up and work out


It will take some pounds of drive, determination, discipline, consistency and commitment. But if your never showing up to the gym in the first place your not going to crush or keep those niggling anxieties away. They can thrive as you stay away so take a stand and have a work out. If you survive and thrive of that endorphin high afterwards your really shutting down those fears. They may still be in the back burrowing somewhere but your showing up and showing yourself that they are baseless fears you are fine you are just as capable as anyone of getting your sweat on and feeling your best. 








I struggled for five months to find the courage and confidence to be in the gym. I was stupefied at how many of the anxieties and fears I had spent overcoming in so many areas of my life were now alive and raging every time I stepped inside and soon began to follow me out. 

That strong self love and respect of my own body. Don't know where it went every time I was supposed to be exercising but really not as I scanned the room of people who belonged to this scene with these great looking bodies.
Even stretching my hamstrings, something I had done hundreds of times at home, school and in sports clubs around others, now a stretch I could possibly be completing incorrectly for a room of "experts" to view and silently judge.

We worked too damn hard to fight anxiety and we still don't have time for it!
Your not alone if you do get intimidated once you step into the gym. You are also more than capable of going in there and getting your endorphins and fuel for the day. You can develop the confidence to go in and work for that body of yours. 
If the gym is your scene, don't let that intimidation by the environment and inexperience dismay you. 

I hope your empowered to take on your personal fitness goals and live them. I hope that combating or overcoming those anxieties and fears will allow you to be consistent and show up to make those goals a reality. 


bear with  xx





Photo credit to Sidhee Boodia, what are friends for really? Thank you so much for accompanying me and from the beginning empowering me to produce this post and even run on the treadmill and overcome that last equipment fear. I had to overcome a lot to write and take those photos. I am grateful for this woman's support throughout.  
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The unspoken benefits of being a single pringle

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

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*Quick disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Pringles nor does it reflect their views.

Being single isn't an issue but somehow it presses itself as one and the more it presses, the more we seek to change our status.
Seeing the growing number of friends ambling away hand in hand, the #couplegoals highlighted on social media or the old couple sitting cosy in the cafe can influence an urgency in our hearts to get in on the happiness from a non-platonic relationship.

I used to have reservations about wholly embracing being single. Since I have been single for awhile and know how to have a good time either way.

Here are a couple of unspoken benefits of being a single pringle.


#1 You don't have to stress about farting in front of your girlfriend or boyfriend

We really shouldn't stress about this. Or the billion other things we stress over often when we like someone. Fortunately, being single as of now the only damage we can do is to a crush. Even then we save ourselves time since all of this is a right of passage of getting to know someone on a whole new level...




#2 You have a chance to open your emotional "baggage"

When I was around sixteen years of age, I didn't see how beautiful I was.
I couldn't wait to have a boyfriend, I wanted someone other than family or a friend to tell me I was beautiful.
I know now the young insecure me was seeking validation.
Since I was sixteen I have grown from seeking validation and have come to a great standing of self-acceptance and greater love of myself. When I see how my self-respect and self worth have also grown alongside I have no regrets about riding solo whilst growing as myself.

Everyone's situations and experiences are different. People have a host of internal warfare raging within them, histories of abuse and hurt their running away from.
If you don't open up your emotional "baggage".
You are likely to bring in that hurt and possibly inflict it on your relationship.

You don't have to have everything sorted before finally accepting that coffee date. However, you must open yourself to healing and growing. That hurt you experienced in the past may lead you to act or think differently when it comes to relationships or life. You may need to communicate this to those you love so they can learn to understand and aid you if that is what you need.



#3 Standards may improve

If your spending time single and you get to watch on the sidelines how other ships sail. You become the lighthouse keeper and a little more perceptive of relationship does and don'ts. You may learn from others experiences.

If your family and friends often ring you up for coffee, brunch or dinner Friday night. Then proceed to buy you the coffee, your drinks or dessert. This to anyone is a kind gesture, especially when nothing has been done to deserve it.
For single people, some view these gestures and realise how they were void from their last relationship or how this is what their worth and nothing less.
"She never called me or initiated dates!"
"He never saved a seat for me when we met with friends".

Are my standards higher now, the longer I have been single?
YES. I am an understanding person, but if my dear friends who is busy with work, university and their other relationships regularly will make the time to message me weekly or call at times. Or my dad who calls home every night despite working away.
If I take heed from this then I am not taking anything less or giving anyone less than such.



#4 One less commitment

This does sound awful reading out aloud.
However, many people, including myself, do not understand the time and effort that must be sown into relationships. Until such a time we are in a committed relationship and are faced with doing so.

Being single doesn't mean you have no commitments but you don't have to think about settling down or how your goal of working overseas may strain the relationship. You may think about how your parents may be devastated and you yourself as they will be so far away.
Yet, you are also aware that your travels could lead you anywhere and into the arms or heart of anyone.
Romance in the Swiss Alps anyone?



#5 You can still go on a lot of "dates"

My personal favourite. If your single and spending too much time on your own, the need to be showered with TLC and spend some quality time with others is often real and felt.
Because you have not limited yourself to one person to share the good times with, you open your time and lunch to friends, family, uni mates and work colleagues.

I myself have been on many "dates". These were dear adventures or intimate catch-ups with friends. And often there are the fancy "dates" where you dress up more than the usual and let your hair loose for the night.
I value these as they really have improved my standards.



#6 You get time to figure out you and pave your own path

There are some people who need the time to just do themselves. You get to figure out your identity, enjoy exploring it and exploring the opportunities in your career and culture. And for us who don't know what we are doing in life.
You can truly embrace not planning every other choice in your life around someone else. The choices you make are for your life. There is a great freedom to question and take on all doors whilst searching for our purpose.

Hopefully, we deter ourselves from entering relationships confused and embarrassed over our identity. As we took the time to attain self-acceptance and develop or self-esteem.




Before you wish off your single days in haste. Embrace that life will keep moving whether you are single or not. Thus you can live well, single or not.
Don't pause life or wait to live until the day you have someone to call "bae".
Take time whilst your a single-pringle to still live the good life.




bear with  my single pringles xx




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