First Gympressions: A Judgement-Free Gym

No one is judging you. I know, I know, it sounds crazy. Of course, everyone must be judging you, you’re the newbie in the gym and they can all sense that right? Wrong. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but that was my own honest thought process when I first started working out. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, and there wasn’t an ounce of muscle on me. How could anyone not judge me? Well, the truth of the matter is that 99% of people are too worried about their own workouts to even pay attention to you. The other one percent are just insecure people who are so worried about judging others that they’ll never make any progress of their own. Pay no attention to them, because you’ll pass them up within the year anyway.

You may feel like you don’t belong near some of the ripped, muscular beasts in your gym, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Anyone who has made that much progress relates to you more than you’d expect. You see, even these people who have been working out for quite a while remember their first day in the gym better than you may think. To reach that level of fitness requires absolute determination and a crazy level of consistency. In order to remain this consistent, there must be a deeply personal and meaningful source of motivation for them. Be it feeling like they needed to gain muscle or lose weight, there was likely a point in time when they hated the way that they looked and felt. This need for self-improvement still lives in them to some extent or else they wouldn’t still be in the gym. What I’m trying to say is that they still think of themselves as someone looking to improve, and they still remember being completely unhappy with how they looked and felt about themselves. Knowing all of this, how could they possibly be judging you? They’re not judging because they were in your shoes not too long ago, and they likely picture that memory every single time they workout as motivation to keep progressing.

Even once you’re past the fear of initial judgment based on appearance, the fear of being judged for your actions starts to creep in. Not knowing what you’re doing can be an all-new, scary, nerve-wracking, feeling in and of itself. Again, it’s important to remember that everyone knew nothing at some point. It’s difficult to judge someone for not knowing how to do something. Where judgment can come into play is when people are doing things that are just stupid, dangerous, or cocky. Don’t worry, you won’t fall into any of these categories by accident. It seems like common sense not to throw a weight up in the air and catch it in the middle of a crowded gym, but it happens. It also seems like a standard sense of decency and consideration for those around you would stop you from screaming with every rep and taking shirtless selfies in the middle of a commercial gym, but this happens as well. With so many things that go against common sense occurring on a daily basis in any given commercial gym, no one will be judging you for not knowing what you’re doing. There are people who know exactly what they’re doing and are choosing to do things a lot worse. However, if you’re still feeling uncomfortable not knowing what to do, getting a trainer or asking a more experienced friend to show you around can provide an immediate sense of confidence and comfortability. It skips the steps of you having to figure things out for yourself and allows you to start getting results more quickly. If these aren’t realistic options, don’t stress! Many machines have clear instructions written on them, and you can stick to these until you’ve observed enough other people to become more comfortable with free weights. Resources such as our own blog, bodybuilding.com, and youtube can also be extremely helpful in teaching you new exercises and/or workouts!

Don’t worry about the weight that you’re lifting either. As any educated gym rat will tell you, form is much more important anyway. Most people probably won’t even notice the weight that you’re doing, and those that do likely won’t take a second look. Few people really give much thought to the weights that others are using because the difficulty of it depends on sets, reps, and previously performed exercises as well! With so many factors affecting the difficulty of an exercise, weight becomes an arbitrary thing to worry about. They also likely started in the same place, if not worse. Personally, I still workout in the same gym that I first started lifting at. The bench press is one of my stronger exercises, yet I remember my first time benching in that gym. I tried to lift the 45lb. Bar (just the bar without a single plate), and could not lift it. I got stuck underneath it, screaming for help. As soon as some huge, jacked guy lifted the bar off of me, I left the gym. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and considering giving up on lifting. Years later, fitness is a huge part of my life and I’m so glad I didn’t give up. Not only am I glad that I came back to the gym, I’m glad that I got stuck in the first place. I still bench on that same bench press for motivation sometimes, and I always tell that story to people who are new to the gym. It’s a part of my fitness journey that will stay with me forever. Yes, it was embarrassing, but it made me who I am. It’s an incredible source of motivation to this day to be sure, but it also is a constant reminder of where I came from.

Every gym rat experiences something similar to my above story at one point or another. Whether it’s being unable to run a mile or unable to do a push-up, we all started out unhappy with where we were at. More importantly, we all remember being there. There’s no way that anyone in better shape should be judging you because they’ve been in the same position as you! Plus, they’re probably too concerned about their own workout to even think twice about yours. Now go have a great workout, and be sure to stay tuned to the blog for more fitness tips!

Alex Gaynor

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