If you feel self-conscious in the gym, remember that everyone is there to focus on themselves, not you. Here’s sage advice for rookies and veterans.
Q: I’m getting a head start on my New Year’s fitness goals and just joined a gym. I’ve been eating healthy and feel motivated, but can’t shake the feeling that literally EVERYONE in the gym is staring at me and silently mocking me for how heavy I am. It makes me absolutely DREAD going to the gym. Any advice?
– Self-Conscious in the Gym
ANSWER BY ROBERT IRVINE:
I remember that feeling perfectly because I felt a version of that when I first started lifting. In my case I felt scrawny and weak and didn’t know how to do the more complicated lifts that the more experienced lifters were doing. Everyone, and I don’t care who you are, feels this way when they’re starting out.
But here’s another truth which I can speak just as confidently because I’ve now been the veteran in the gym for so many years: No one is looking at you and no one is judging you. Everyone in that gym has two things in common. 1) They’re pressed for time. 2) From the first-timer to the pregnant mom, from the guy who’s there because his cardiologist ordered him to do so to the professional bodybuilder, everyone is there because they’re trying to get better.
If you insist there’s a third item and that they’re rolling their eyes at what you’re doing, then I refer you to this quote by the late great Dr. Wayne Dyer: “What other people think of you is none of your business.”
Think about that quote for a second. You’re going to the gym for your own health, happiness, and personal betterment, yes? So if everything I’m saying is wrong and in fact, everyone is judging you, well… would you let that stop you? Would you really quit?
Or would you unleash the champion hiding inside you and say to them all, “Oh yeah? Watch this.”
To summarize: No one’s watching you. If they are it doesn’t matter at all (and they’re jerks). Nothing can stop you but you. You’ve got nothing to prove to anyone except yourself. Now go make yourself proud and get to work!
And always remember the motto of this magazine, the motto that I live by…
Nothing is impossible.