I originally signed up for a gym membership more than a year and a half ago. I knew I needed to get into shape but I also knew I didn’t have the discipline to do so at home. I started going twice a week, then three times a week. It was so intimidating to walk into the gym where everyone looked like they knew what they were doing. I did cardio for a few months, switched to the machines for a while, then to light weights. After cycling through these exercises for a year, I wasn’t experiencing the changes I was hoping for. I talked with one of my friends and mentioned I wanted to get stronger. He suggested using high weight and very low repetitions. This worked for me and its what I still use today.
Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful when working out at the gym:
1. Don’t let feeling self-conscious stop you from exercising.
50% of the population is introverted. That means about half of the people in the gym are probably feeling the same way you are. Also, the other people in the gym aren’t paying that much attention to you. They’re wrapped up in their own workouts and are probably self conscious themselves.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others.
As an introvert, I’m constantly analyzing everything, including myself. But comparing myself to others only leads to envy and disappointment. Its not helping me improve. When you see someone who looks amazing, you have to realize that its probably taken years for them to build their current muscle/tone. And they probably have a different body type, body composition, and genetics than you. You will never look like “insert name here” but you can definitely look like a fit and healthy version of yourself 🙂
3. Set clear and attainable goals.
It took me far too long to decide what my goals were. I wanted to be fit, but that’s a very unmeasurable goal. It wasn’t until I focused on strength training that I finally started seeing progress. Create long, medium, and short term goals for yourself. Then once you’ve reached them, treat yourself. If you’re interested, some tips on setting fitness goals can be found here.
4. Get help.
I wasted so much time because I didn’t know what I was doing. It wasn’t until I asked my friend for suggestions that I started seeing the progress I wanted. Personal trainers are excellent if you have a clear goal and just need some direction. Other great resources are friends or family who use the gym frequently, online forums, videos, and books.
5. Do what you love.
Introverts have a very limited supply of energy and we don’t like to waste time. If you do something you like, you won’t dread exercising and it won’t be as draining. You’ll also be less inclined to procrastinate or skip days. There are so many options when it comes to exercise. This includes swimming, rowing, HIIT training, weights, running, yoga, cycling, martial arts, and so much more.
6. Consistency is key.
I had to write “work out” on my calendar for the first 6 months, but eventually it became part of my routine. Most say that three workouts a week is ideal. If you try to make a habit of going to the gym more, you will exercise more. Sometimes life gets in the way and you miss workouts. That’s okay, just keep moving forward.
7. Track your workouts.
I use Fitocracy to track my workouts but there are a ton of other programs/apps out there. I like logging my workouts, getting points for them, and then “levelling up”. It makes working out like a game and keeps me interested. Tracking your workouts, even on paper, shows you where you’re improving and can help you plot your next goal.
8. Don’t workout on an empty stomach.
Being introverted and highly sensitive, hunger affects me in a big way. I can’t focus and its hard to push myself. Make sure you’ve eaten something at least 45 minutes to an hour before you workout. You should eat a combination of carbohydrates and protein. Food gives your body the energy it needs for your workout. Stay hydrated and eat a post-workout snack too. This is especially important if you are using weights.
9. Control the noise.
For an introvert, one of the biggest turn-offs about the gym is the noise level. When I walk in, there’s pulsing music, shouting, and people everywhere. If you have noise cancelling headphones you can block out the chaos and listen to your own music. It really helps to increase my concentration and reduce the distractions. I’ve also started working out on Sundays because there are very few people there that day.
10. Its okay to not work out.
Some days I walk into the gym after an overstimulating day and just want to turn around and go home. I’ll usually force myself to do my 10 minute warm-up. If I still feel terrible, I’ll change back into my street clothes and drive home. If you just can’t do it, don’t force yourself. You can always come back another day when you’re feeling better. Don’t feel as if you’ve failed, because you haven’t. Its far more important to take care of yourself and get some quiet time.
Do you have any other tips?