Sometimes we allow others to influence our feelings. This can happen anywhere in life; while getting groceries, while shopping for clothes, going to the gym, anywhere. That one person who is in a permanent state of “bad mood.” It can turn you off to the whole idea of the place you encountered them at, and make you dread going there.
I grew up playing sports, but weight lifting and the gym setting was sort of intimidating to me. I assumed that everyone was going to be watching everything I did and criticizing it. All of those people who knew what they were doing would see me, and instantly know I was new and doing stuff wrong. One example: I used to do squats without squeezing my glutes because I was worried people would see me clenching my butt. No joke, I intentionally did a movement wrong in fear that someone would see me do it right. What if they were mean to me because I am new and not as strong as them? Not a thing. Years later, I now realize how silly and unrealistic my fears were. Who cares what others think of me in the gym?! I wasn’t doing it for them, but I still built up dread in my mind that they felt I didn’t belong there.
Now I know that most people there are focusing on what THEY are doing, rather than others around them. I started out by being intimidated by others, and now I may even be perceived as intimidating (until you meet me and realize I am super nice and just love working out.) I have muscle, I wear a baseball cap low, have several visible tattoos, and I lift heavy.
Remebering how I started has shaped who I am now. If I notice someone looking at me or we make eye contact, I smile or nod. I am not saying that every time someone looks at you at the gym you need to smile. You do you, but I chose to smile to let them know I am happy they are there. My mission is to open their minds to the idea that maybe we don’t have anything else in common, but we have the gym, and that is pretty awesome.
Be kind to each other, and stick with it, even if it is a little scary at first. Stay focused on why you started and try not to compare yourself to others. If you’re finding yourself dreading the gym, maybe look into a workout buddy or personal trainer (another blog coming soon on finding the good ones.) They can help ease you into the workouts, build confidence, and keep you accountable. Plus, trainers are kind of like your gym bodyguards. They will make sure you get what you need to done. You don’t have to worry about other people intimidating you because they will keep you grounded and focused, instead of building up dread around things that aren’t true.
On the rare occasion someone is rude to you in the gym, that is absolutely their problem and has nothing to do with you. I have found that “killing them with kindness” truly does work, and try to brush it off and know that you belong there as much as anyone!