hold your own at the gym

Not long ago, I was at my gym and walked over to the water fountain to fill up before beginning my workout, as usual. Now that the New Year is upon us, there are many new faces at the gym— which is to be expected. Not everyone understands gym etiquette, which is usually just something you deal with until they eventually figure it out or read a forum on it, assuming they stick with the whole “fitness” thing in 2019. Anyways, as I was filling my bottle I saw a gentleman out of the corner of my eye walking towards the fountain. I assumed he was coming over to get a drink (obvs), but I didn’t expect that he would stand only a foot away from me as I finished filling my bottle, waiting for his turn. I thought: Ok, kinda rude and weird, but some people just lack an understanding of personal space. But then, this guy had the nerve to start tapping his foot. This man needs to know that I am not the one!! #YouTriedIt. I already had my headphones in and really just wanted to get my workout started, which is why I ultimately didn’t end up saying anything, but this short, seemingly-insignificant interaction really aggravated me. Thankfully, I am no longer someone who feels intimidated or insecure at the gym, but, had this been someone else— perhaps someone who had finally worked up the courage to try the gym for the first time— it could’ve been a huge blow to their motivation and self-confidence. What a poor first impression for a newcomer to have of the kind of people that usually frequent the gym; the stigma around gym junkies is already bad enough. I can’t help but think: Maybe I’m overreacting in the moment. Maybe I shouldn’t let some miserable person get me this worked up. It doesn’t matter. But for others, it absolutely does. As someone who is constantly trying to encourage people to overcome their fears and try the gym without inhibition, I have to consider how this could negatively affect them. SO, this quick interaction inspired me to do some work illustrating the importance of self-assurance and gaining your own level of intimidation at the gym. Hope y’all enjoy.

Stand tall and don’t be afraid to look directly back at anyone who you feel is eyeing you. If your posture emits intimidation, you will feel intimidating. Force others to see you as you want to be seen. Fake it ‘til you make it if you need to! If you look like you’re comfortable, others will believe you are. I always try to put on a bit of a bitch face when people, especially men, no shade (Or am I throwing shade? You decide.) start to get too close to me around the weights and such. Before you start thinking that I’m just a big meanie— yes, there is a sense of community at the gym and you need to respect your fellow members, but there’s nothing wrong with flexing a lil’ bit to let everyone know that you are not to be underestimated. Some women may have even apologized out of panic when that man I mentioned started tapping his foot. And to that, I say: NOT TODAY, GIRL! We are leaving senseless, gender-based, stereotypical apologies in 2018.

 [CH1]YAAAAASSSSSS!!

Invest in athletic clothes that make you feel good. And when I say invest, I don’t necessarily mean drop mad $$$ on clothes and shoes, just pick out a few new things that get you excited to change for the gym. I used to be someone who didn’t believe in spending money on gym clothes. Why couldn’t I just wear any old T-shirt and basketball shorts from 5th grade to work out? Well you certainly can, but I’ve learned it’s a whole lot more motivating when you look in the mirror to check your form and think: Who is that bad bitch lookin’ cute?? And strong?? Ok work!! Find workout wear that makes you feel strong, muscular, sexy, curvy, snatched— whatever adjective you want to be defined as. You might even get excited to get dressed up for the gym, just as you would for a date or the first day of school. :) It may sound dumb now, but give it a try and see how you feel before you knock it.

Stay motivated during your workout with headphones and a great playlist. In my experience, a gym playlist has to make you feel like you want to fight someone— songs that get your adrenaline pumping, music that makes you want to tell off that bitch who bullied you that one time. Fuck her!! For most people, this is probably hard-core rap or rock music, but not everyone! Once upon a time, my mojo music was the Cheetah Girls 2 soundtrack every time, without fail. Nothing got my heart pumping quite like pussystunting through the streets of Barcelona. Set the mood for yourself and find confidence in the music.

Don’t do exercises that make you feel dumb. Are you trying something new because the workout guide you’re following said to? Do you feel like the motion is absolutely ridiculous? Skip it and move on to the next one! You can research the exercise more later on. Google exactly what the exercise is supposed to do; learn about the muscles it affects and the benefits it has. Look up the exercise’s proper form to make sure you’re actually doing it right. I guarantee there’s either an instructional video or step-by-step picture instructions on it somewhere. If after all that research and giving the exercise one more shot you decide you still hate it, let it go. There is almost always another exercise or variation that you can do to reap the same benefits. The gym is about feeling good about yourself. If you’re not feeling good, you need to make a change.