Gymtimidation: the fear of working out related to the crazy pieces of equipment and/or the super fit people using them. (Elite Daily, 2014).
Let’s face it. At one point or another we’ve all been there. Picture with me for a moment the first time you walked into a gym. Maybe you were 14 years old, getting ready for the JV basketball team tryouts. Or, maybe you were 45 years old just beginning your fitness journey. No matter the age or stage of life, at some point we’ve all walked through the doors of this new and strange land called “the gym.” Everyone seems to have their routine and know what to do with the strange looking medieval torture devices and metal objects with numbers on the sides.
Confession: Even though I work at a gym and have been working out for years, I was so intimidated by the weight section. In college, I would head straight to some type of cardio machine for 45 minutes, then snag a mat and do a few planks, crunches and other bodyweight exercises. But the weight section- that’s where the SERIOUS people workout with their cut off T’s and notebooks filled with sets and reps and weights for their leg day workout. Yikes! I also bought into the lie that women who lift heavy will get bulky, incredible hulk-like bodies. I can promise you that incorporating a weight routine will not leave you looking like that, but you may be pleasantly surprised by how many pull-ups you will be able to do!
A few months ago, I stepped into this world and began a bodybuilding plan with the Climb Nash Girls. All those feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and ripped off T-shirt beasts came to mind. I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to do the exercises or would fail to lift as much as the other trainers. I easily could have let my insecurities get the best of me, and stick to my comfort zone workouts. Instead, I decided to step into this new world of accountability and workout buddies.
I quickly learned that the majority of us were in the same boat. We were comfortable with cardio, boot-camp style workouts and bodyweight strength training. As we began working through this bodybuilding plan, the laughter, camaraderie and friendship began to build. I chose to set my resolve and committed to working out with these women as often as I could. It helped to know that I had others counting on me to show up and holding me accountable for following my workout plan. It is so important to have workout partners and surround yourself with those who are going to encourage you, cheer you on and help push you through those last few reps of bench press.
On the flip side, I must confess that those days I wasn’t able meet up with the Climb Nash Girls to workout, I didn’t push myself as hard. I let myself drop down to a lower weight or completed fewer reps. I am not proud of this, but I do believe it shows the importance of accountability and surrounding yourself with likeminded people when going after your goals. Let’s be real, everyone loves being cheered on!
What started as meeting up for workouts and encouraging one another through tough lifts quickly grew to deep, real friendships. We started taking advantage of the rest times to get to know one another. We asked each other real questions; we invested in one another; we shared our struggles; we confessed our shortcomings; we leaned on each other when we were having a rough day. Working out together was not solely good for our physical bodies, but also good for our minds and dispelling negative self-talk or lies we had believed about ourselves.
Here’s just a small glimpse into one of the more comical confessions shared in the weight room…
For the past few months, I have been trying REALLY hard to be a vegetarian. The workout plan we had been following called for us to TRIPLE our protein intake. Well, I can only handle so many beans or protein shakes before my body just demands some good ol’ meat. I walked into the weight room one morning and just felt the need to confess to the other trainers so I did. I looked at them and said, “Guys, I ate a burger last night...and it was amazing! I am the worst vegetarian ever!!” Katie, who was also doing her best to be vegetarian, looked at me and laughed. “Oh, good! I did last night too!!” she said. We all burst into laughter, acknowledging that it is okay to be human, to listen to our bodies and give them what they are craving!
Speaking of listening to our bodies, I must say that they are really good at telling us what we need, whether that is a meaty burger, a rest day or something else. Sometimes it is good to push harder- to load the bar up with more weight or increase our mileage. Our bodies tell us we are ready for that. Other days our bodies are sore, fatigued and begging for rest. One morning I headed out to Percy Warner for a morning trail run. After the first few steps, it became apparent that my body was crying out for rest (which is a word that pretty much does not exist in my vocabulary). But I did it. I walked the entire trail. I enjoyed and appreciated my surroundings for a whole 4.5 miles. Even though my initial thought was to beat myself up over “failing” to complete my workout that day, I quickly came to the realization that I did not fail. Rather, I gave my body what it needed. We don’t have to (and shouldn’t!) workout hard every day. Use your workout buddies to keep you accountable on the hard and the easy days.
I am so thankful to have 4 awesome workout partners who have become so much more than just workout partners. These women are my accountability partners, my cheerleaders, my counselors and most importantly, my friends. Working out is FUN when you are surrounded by support and positivity. I encourage everyone to find at least one person to share your fitness journey with.
After all, the best cure to gymtimidation is accountability & workout buddies. ☺