Gym Tips That Will Help You Feel More Confident Working Out

Every January, countless people make the resolution to start hitting up the gym. But adopting a new lifestyle habit can feel like an overwhelming task, especially when it involves an investment of time and money. Plus, even if you’ve been able to make it work, and you are getting there a few times a week—congrats, that’s huge!—it can take some time before you really feel comfortable in this new environment.

The reality is that a lot of fitness spaces can feel intimidating and uncomfortable, especially at first, when you are new to working out and aren’t quite sure what to expect.

“This is true for just about everyone who doesn’t already have an intentional movement practice that they enjoy; this can be even more true for anyone whose body doesn’t fit within the norms of fitness culture, whether due to their size, gender identity or presentation, orientation, age, disability, et cetera,” says Lore McSpadden, certified personal trainer and owner of Positive Force Movement, a gym in Rochester, New York, that’s committed to working with people who have historically not felt welcomed by the fitness industry.

But pushing through that initial trepidation can pay off with huge rewards as you begin to eke out your own niche in that space.

To help you feel more at home and ready to kick ass at the gym this year, we asked trainers, fitness instructors, and gym regulars to share their best gym tips on how to carve out your own spot and feel like you belong. (And to be clear, it’s not on you to overcome the systemic barriers to feeling included. These are just tips to help get you a little more hype for your workout!)

1. Pick one thing and get really good at it.

One reason you may feel out of place at the gym is that you’re not quite sure you’re doing things correctly—and that other people are picking up on it. To combat that, Morit Summers, certified personal trainer and owner of Form Fitness Brooklyn, suggests picking one thing that you can work on over and over again at the gym until you feel like you’ve mastered it. Continue to start your workouts with that for a confidence boost, but then move on to attempting another new-to-you exercise. You’ll have that self-assurance behind you from already getting really good at one thing to bolster you.

Along those same lines, focus on exercises that you actually like doing, especially while you’re finding your footing. “There is no one right way to do fitness,” says Amanda Wheeler, C.S.C.S., trainer at Mark Fisher Fitness. “The very best fitness plan is the one you enjoy and can be consistent with. If you’re choosing exercise you hate because you think that’s what you’re supposed to do, it will only last for a short bit of time. If you find something you love, it will be way easier to show up over time.”

And when you’re enjoying what you’re doing, it’ll be easier to focus on your workout and feel confident in yourself.

2. Wear clothes that make you feel good.

“I love pulling out bright and vibrant clothes that makes me feel invigorated before I start my workout,” says Latoya Shauntay Snell, ultrarunner, freelance chef, photographer, and founder of Running Fat Chef.

Feeling comfortable and confident in the clothes you’re wearing can go a long way, so go ahead and treat yourself to a new workout outfit, or that pair of leggings you’ve been eyeing up. (Need some inspiration? Here are 22 amazing workout leggings to get you started.)

3. Make friends with the front desk staff.

Ever feel slightly envious of those subtle “hello” nods the gym regulars give each other when they arrive? Don’t worry—once you start coming in more and more, other exercisers will likely start giving you the nod too. But until then, don’t underestimate the push power of a friendly welcome from the worker at the front desk.

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Fitness Advice & Workout Tips

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