Conquering the Gym

You know, I looked at my face in the mirror this morning, and I like being old. My face has more content and when I train in the gym now, I am not training to be strong or handsome – just better than I was yesterday. These days the race is just against myself.

Jean-Claude Van Damme

Why is working out at the gym intimidating? We breathe a giant sigh of relief when our apartment gym is empty and we can read, think, watch TV, or pray in peace. Then, when another person enters our space, the posture straightens, the muscles get an energy boost, the breathing becomes steadier, and we don smiles as if to say, ‘This is easy!” But WHY do we lie?!

In doing some research for this post I found the four main culprits and how to combat them with confidence.

1) You deserve to be there! Just because you don’t already have flat abs, toned thighs, tank-top ready arms, and elegant shoulders doesn’t mean those people who do have any more right to be working out than you. How do you think they got like that, hmm?

2) Blame your parents. Genetics definitely affects weight loss, weight gain, and where you wear your weight. For example, I know that if I start eating dairy and sweets, I gain a nice “soft” layer over all the lovely muscle that’s there. It adds to the bra-buldge on my sides, an extra inch to my lower “pooch,” and takes out the top definition of my shoulders that I so enjoy for maxi dresses.  I also know girls who have the most petite face, neck, and slim shoulders with disproportionate hips and thighs…the classic pear-shape. Of course, dressing right for your body type is key to keep you feeling gorgeous, but in terms of weight loss, know that certain areas won’t have the same effect as other areas, so be okay looking great in your sports tank while your thigh-rub is making a wedgie.

3) Target certain areas. If you happen to have looser, Italian grandmother arms like I do, stop scowling at the bony gals that can actually wear cap-sleeves. Instead, find something beyond a normal cardio workout that targets this area to keep it toned and strong. For example, I’ve found that ballet is much more effective than lifting weights that seem to bulk up my triceps.  Don’t worry that you didn’t hit every machine in the gym for ten reps. Do what works for you.

4) Know yourself, but be open. If you are dying after 10 minutes on the treadmill, don’t be afraid to step off it, regardless of the hottie that looks over. Who cares what he’s thinking! Besides, anyone who judges the quantity of your workout rather than the quality is definitely not worth a second glance. At the same time, push yourself and you might be surprised at how far you can go. But do it of your own accord and not because everyone else is watching.

Ultimately…STOP COMPARING YOURSELF. If your goal is to be healthier, lose weight, tone up, get out toxins, or work up stamina, DO IT! Don’t let your imagination keep you in anxious doubt.  Put on some tunes to transport you out of the fishbowl-effect, or have a friend accompany you to help distract from the “pressure to perform.” Who knows…the flickering stares might be stimulated by jealousy, and not judgment.