how I busted my fear of the gym

I’ve written about weightloss and healthy lifestyle quite a lot here before.

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I wrote about my experience of writing a food diary here, which is something I still do when I need to get my eating back on the straight and narrow. But inevitably as I’m getting older and 30 is looming, my body doesn’t react to diet changes as drastically as it used to. A less active job has led to some weight gain over the last two years and despite not eating all that badly, I was feeling unhappy in myself.

I was never a fit girl – I say that…I’m still not! But exercise for me has always been the enemy. A chore that I never completed, unless I really had to – like at work for example. I was always wriggling out of PE as a teen and this hung over into my adult years. I always saw myself as unfit, with no stamina and although quite strong, totally clueless how to channel that and put it to use to build the body I’ve always dreamed off. You might notice I’m flicking between tenses and that’s because, drumroll….I joined the gym! Yes, me.

It wasn’t an easy process to decide on. I’ve tried running in the past and I’ve been a member of a gym before. Neither I stuck with and although I had a brief bout of success with running, it didn’t give me the physical results I wanted to see in myself, so it was short lived. I knew that this year, I wanted to tackle my fear of exercise. As I said, I don’t eat too badly and my body wasn’t reacting to even more diet restrictions – it was time to acknowledge I needed to get my sweat on! And for my own health and wellbeing too, not just aesthetically. Being fit is a lifestyle choice and one I longed to make. After browsing a few gyms locally and quite frankly being shocked by the price, I came to the conclusion the one over the road from me was the only option. Cheap, with the added bonus of a corporate discount, a super well equipped gym and a friend who was a member – I signed up.

So how did I get over my gym fear?
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Long sleeve top – Karrimor | Green top & water bottle – TKMaxx | Leggings – Jack Wills* | Trainers – Nike

Take what’s on offer

When I signed up, I was asked if I wanted a 15 minute induction or a the full 1hr with follow up sessions. I forced myself to commit to the latter and was booked into an after work slot with a PT called Emma. I knew I wanted to really utilise what the gym could offer me for my money and I needed Emma to impart all her knowledge into me so I could be confident in what I was doing. Since then, I’ve completed follow up sessionw ith Emma to learn new exercises and to help me understand what’s best for me to be doing. Using all these sessions to my advantage has got to be the number one way I busted that fear – being confident in what you’re doing means you’re more than half the way there!

Be honest

During my induction, Emma took my resting heart rate. She said it was a bit high and asked why – and I was honest. I was so anxious to be there. Just looking around the gym the week prior had made me sweat, and as someone who doesn’t suffer with anxiety at all, it was a horrible feeling. This honesty resonated with Emma and she well and truly took me under her wing. She explained every little detail to me, even how the lockers worked and that full understanding of how everything ran in the gym really gave me confidence.

Get a programme

Being honest with Emma was the start of me getting the best out the gym and getting a comprehensive programme from her was vital. I had no clue what would get me results in the gym, and was terrified of looking stupid. I didn’t want to be that person – the one people look at and think, what is she doing? Emma guided me, and taught me about the theory of progressive overload. This is about your muscles growing, and in order for them to grow the body must be forced to adapt to tension that is above and beyond what it has previously experienced. Her explaining this to me was invaluable and I felt confident I knew what weights to use and when in the future. She also gave me routines to do on the cardio machines as well as some functional training and each time I do my programme, I’m confident and working hard.

Ask, and ask again

I asked Emma a hundred questions during my induction, and I’m looking forward to seeing her again next week to ask some more! Asking her in a 1:1 setting allowed me to get all my queries and worries out the way before I started. Being confident enough to ask is the first step!

Say yes

On my first session, and for my first 10 day programme, Emma set me up on two cardio machines and three lots of fixed weights. I felt like I could build my confidence in the gym inconspicuously which worked for me in the first leg. When I went back for my next session with Emma, she asked if I was ready to try some functional training as I mentioned above. This includes box jumps, ball slams, TRX – all stuff that would ‘draw attention’ to me. No fixed manoeuvres on machines, and a fair bit of noise…and I forced myself to say yes. I’ll admit it’s terrifying, but as Emma pointed out, so many people will admire what it is I’m doing, rather than look down on it. Functional training is hard work and forcing the ‘yes’ out of me took some doing but it’s worth it.

Fake it ’til you make it

And as for this one? Do you. Be brave. Focus on your aims. Have confidence. Remember, everyone in there started somewhere. And if you don’t like people looking at you, chances are, others feel the same. Everyone at the gym is there for a purpose and if you’re confident in your programme and your goals, no one else matters.

I haven’t been going to the gym for long so I am definitely no pro – but I’m learning and enjoying it, which is why I wanted to write this post. January 2016, I walked into sign up to the gym and got so anxious, I left before I even got to reception. January 2017, I signed up to the gym alone, throw myself around in front of people I don’t know… and actually feel good about it. Trust me when I say, if I can do, so can you!

Shop my gym gear below!


Tell me more about Katherine-Louise

If you’ve landed here, you’re probably looking to find out more about Katherine-Louise. Run by me, Kat - put simply I'm a 30 year old who is decidedly normal. My blog is a destination for women just like me - the same interests and aspirations, working our way through the same twists and turns of life. Katherine-Louise is designed to inspire and inform; to give you a break from the norm as well identify with the beauty of routine. A fifteen minute recoup, or an hours vacation, it’s the go-to for Everyday-Joe’s, just like me, who want a few minutes off the radar.