Monday, July 6, 2015

Ladies, you need to stop being intimidated by the gym

I've been meaning to write this piece for quite some time, but I will fall back on the age old excuse of "life gets in the way" as to why I haven't.

About a year ago, I read an article about a survey as to the main reason that many women, who do want to get in better shape, don't end up joining or making it in to the gym.

Survey says!


There were several types of intimidation, and I hope I can shed some light on them for the women who would like to get to the gym, but have some of these unwarranted fears embedded in their minds.

"Hot, luscious, sexy bodies"

One of the types of intimidation that the women interviewed said they felt they would be bothered by, was all of the "sexual, hot and luscious bodies that the women who are in the gym have."

Ok, so I'm taking big liberties with that hot and luscious stuff (which means severe embellishing), but it did cause me to laugh internally at the thought of it.  The idea that the gym is filled with all of these hot women with huge, deliciously perfect heart shaped asses, and six pack abs so deep the men are lining up to lick off the almond butter they slathered on them between sets.

I'm here to tell you, there is no such place.  I mean, there may be, I'm just saying after 26 years I haven't seen or even heard of such place.  And if there were, I promise everyone would know about it by now.  And everyone would be at that gym, and you'd know exactly which gym to avoid.

But I will tell you what I have seen in almost 3 decades of being in the gym.

The majority of the women range from being in piss poor shape, to pretty good.  Occassionaly, there will be a female that comes in that is in unbelievably great shape, but the truth is, they are few and far between.

Which leaves us with the majority being women who are in piss poor shape, and doing their damned best to rectify that, all the way to the women who look pretty good, but aren't going to be winning any IFBB bikini or fitness shows anytime soon.

And this covers everything from large commercial gyms, to crossfit gyms, to small personal studio type gyms, to whatever.  There are all sorts of shapes and sizes in each of those that at some point, probably had the same fear that you do.  That they would walk into that gym where some almond butter ab goddess would shame you for still carrying around that 30 pounds of "baby weight".

Nevermind that "baby" just graduated from college....5 years ago.  But I digress!

So you can put your fears to rest.

I've been in all of these gyms, and I promise you that the great majority of the women in there, from a "looks" standpoint, aren't going to make you feel completely self conscious about how you look right now, more than likely.

Not only that, you need to remember that even if you do see some almond butter ab goddess, plenty of those women were in horrific shape when they finally made the decision to overcome their fears, and do something about how they looked and felt.  And if that's the case, they aren't going to look down on you.  They will identify with your struggle because it has association to them.  They know what that's like to not look and feel your best.  I know, because plenty of them have told me their stories about the why-and-how they made the choice to muster up the courage to finally step through those gym doors, and pick up a barbell.

I know with you feeling because everything sags and jiggles that you will be looked at with scornful eyes and somehow, someone may mock you in their mind, but that really is just never going to happen.  I see women everyday who are overweight, and I am always inspired by them working their ass off more than the super fit chick doing another high rep set on the look-at-my-ass machine.  I'm not saying I don't look.  I might look.  Yeah, I look.  Because I'm a man.  And we often stare at asses.
But that's really not the point here.  When you get in shape, and you will if you hang in there, I too will check out your ass when you get on the stare-at-my-ass machine.  So how about that?

How IG "models" train biceps

But all that aside, remember this as well; everyone started from ground zero at some point.  Even that chick you think that was born with biceps and glutes had a day where she did her first sets of squats, first set of presses, and first set of look-at-my-ass-machine.  She had to work for what you see, and she wasn't always the physical specimen you are looking at today.

My last tip here, is try to bring a friend, or talk someone else who is also intimidated into going with you.  That way you will at least be able to lean on her for emotional support, and her on you.  You can even go to the bathroom together.  Isn't that what women do?

"I wouldn't even know where to begin"

The other intimidation factor was simply being afraid they would walk into the gym and look stupid, trying to figure out what in the hell all of those machines do, or being intimidated by barbells.

Again, let me throw out my experience in this matter.

Bros at the gym will take up about 98% of the stupidity going on.  You probably wouldn't even recognize it at first, but trust me, it's happening.  So don't worry about that because there are going to be so many bros in there hogging all the stupid you won't ever have to worry about it.  The rest of us won't even notice you because between sets we're too busy watching bros and going, "god damn that bro is stupid."

Remember, no one is REALLY going to notice that you don't know what you're doing, unless you decide to stand on a swiss ball, and throw a medicine ball onto a trampoline.  Then, everyone is going to go "this chick is really fucking stupid."

So, don't do that.  Avoid that action.

There are a few things you can do to overcome this fear of looking stupid in the gym.

1.  You can train at home for a little while, learning some exercises.  Just google the names and watch some videos.  Fact is, you can learn a lot just by doing this.  Then when you feel ready, you can find a gym and start more advanced training from there.  But this will at least give you a start and instill some confidence in you.

2.  Hire a trainer at the gym to show you.  Most gyms now have trainers that work there.  At the bare minimum, hire them for 6 weeks so you can learn the ropes, or until you feel confident enough to be on your own.  If your trainer is awesome, and you're getting results really fast, keep em.  Good trainers are hard to come by.

3.  Stick with machines for a while.  Most machines have little drawings on them on how to do the exercise.  Start off light and adjust the seat and various levers on it until the movement feels comfortable.  This will take some experimentation, but again, no one is going to notice.  I have to adjust every machine on get on as well.  We all do.  Relax.  It's normal.

"Men are going to bother me"

I can't quell your fears completely on this one.  It does happen.

A piece of advice I can give you here is to do a few things...

1.  Develop a severe and intense case of resting bitch face.  

Put it on the second you enter the doors of the gym and never take it off.  Not even in the shower, or while putting on makeup after.  Hold it so long and so often that it becomes a part of who you are in the gym at all times.

Perfect your resting bitch face first

In all I'm being mostly serious.  If you don't want dudes to bother you while training, put on that resting bitch face.  That alone is a pretty good deterrent.


Some dudes are just dick blossoms and are going to give it a shot anyway.  Which leads us to point 2....

2.  Wear headphones and learn the phrase "can't talk, I'm training."

This takes care of 99% of potential run ins with dick blossoms who are not deterred by your awesome resting bitch face.  Oh and don't "be nice".  If a man is willing to bother you while training, he has no respect for you, or your time.  Think about that.

Let me also add that the GREAT MAJORITY of men in the gym, that are serious, don't give a shit about talking to you.  Even if you are hot.  They are there to train, and really don't care about picking up on you.  I'm not saying they wouldn't try outside the gym, but I'm telling you, even when I've had training partners, we were serious in the gym and didn't bother women, or really even talk about any in the gym.  We were there to train.

truly the dude you need to worry about

Lastly on this topic, if you do get hit on and want to flirt, take it away from the actual lifting area.  Those of us who are serious about our training get pretty annoyed at people who take up space and equipment to act like they are standing at the bar down at the local club on a Saturday night.

Remember, the gym is a place to train.  And lots and lots of people are serious when they are in there.  If you want to flirt or talk to someone, it's a good idea to wait until you're done training.  That way, you can take it off to the non-training area and do your business.

Conclusion - 

Most of the fears and intimidation factors that women worry about the gym are largely in their head.  They see some IG "model" (I write that sarcastically) and doesn't think about the fact that her ass doesn't look like that year round, and maybe doesn't know she took 56,765 selfies before the light hit her bum at just the perfect angle to make it look delicious.  Add in mega filters and after she's all done, you're not looking at reality.

Most of these women have what is called an "offseason" as well, where they relax on their diets and "fatten" up a bit.  They aren't in Laura Croft Tomb Raider shape year around.  They diet and train specifically for photo shoots, competitions, and fitness expos.  Trust me, I've seen plenty of offseason pics of these same women you think have the most amazing bodies ever and you'd be surprised how far some of them slide in the "offseason".

And that's fine.

If there is a pretty unfair situation in the fitness industry and well, in society in general, it's that we constantly impose these almost impossible demands for beauty and sex appeal in regards to women, and have no such standards for us men.

So if a man reads this, I hope you also have the same standards for yourself in regards to your abs, and pecs, and delts, and of course...TRAPS, that you have for how fit and sexy a woman is supposed to be.

So ladies, the only thing you have to that by some slight chance you walk into a gym filled with almond butter ab goddesses and they laugh you right out of the place for even having the nerve to walk in.

And you're far more likely to get hit on by Chris Hemsworth while he's training for the next Thor movie for that to ever happen.  And that's not happening either.

So stop being scared.

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