Fitterstrongerbetter reader Erika asked me for some advice yesterday and rather than write an essay in a comment as a response, I figured I might as well make a post sharing my experience with the problem she’s having and some tips and tricks that may help.
“I dread going to the gym! I feel on the spot the whole time I’m there! I train in my house because I don’t like the ambiance in gyms but I don’t know if that’ll slow my progress! And I know lifting weights is an important part in losing weight and looking fitter. Any advice?”
I joined my gym in February and the first month was fine until I started weightlifting, then things changed. I presume it’s the same in a lot of places, but I get a lot of shit for being a girl who lifts weights. If I go at the wrong time of the day, I will get at least one comment from some idiot who thinks he’s being funny or clever. For example, things that have genuinely been said either to me or said to their fellow
wankers gym buddies about me:
- “I think you’re in the wrong room, love. Yoga class is on the first floor, we wouldn’t want you to break a nail, would we?”
- “You’d think she’d be able to lift heavier than that, considering the size of her tits”
- “Oh, you look sweaty, why don’t you leave the weights to the men and get back to the stairmaster”
If this shocks you, let me tell you, the first couple of times it happened I was shocked too. I am the only woman I have ever seen in the weight room and my personal trainer admitted that the girls tend to stay away and stick to cardio with a little bit of resistance training on the machines upstairs – I can see why.
I’m a very blunt person, I’m incredibly confident and speak my mind; if people are rude to me, I will quickly shut them up with my quick wit. Even if it’s not a comment specifically about a girl who lifts, I get bitched at about my arm pit hair (yes, I’m a feminist, what of it?) and people also want to interrupt my gym time to talk about my tattoos. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice when people want to compliment my body art and find out who I went to for this tattoo and that etc. but when I’m working out, I want to be left alone.
When it comes to the negative comments, I can shrug it off as their own insecurities, misogyny and general ignorance, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not irritating and it has actually made me really dislike being at the gym. Cardio and resistance training can be done at home in a variety of ways with ease but, like Erika, I appreciate the importance of weightlifting and know the gym has the best equipment for it.
So what can I do if I hate my gym?
Don’t worry, there is plenty of things you can do if you still want to get fit by weightlifting, but don’t like your gym:
Ask around to see how people rate other gyms and switch
It may be that the gym you have chosen doesn’t suit you, despite having great equipment, sometimes it just isn’t a good fit. There are about 10 different gyms within driving distance from me and I picked one based on its price and variety of classes. Since choosing this particular gym, I have had many people tell me that they hated going there due to the atmosphere and attitude of the other members. One of the other gyms is a women-only gym, another is at a country club so is full of older and therefore more mature people who leave you alone to do your thing in peace.
Can’t switch because of your contract? Pick quiet times
If, like me, you’re bound by an iron-clad year-long contract and are determined not to waste your money, pick quiet times of the day/evening.
I’ve found the worst atmosphere is at the weekends and from 3pm – 8pm Mon – Fri. People who have full time jobs but still want to go to the gym will pick either before or after work. After work, they have all evening to do whatever they want, so they have more time to socialise and goof around, which makes me feel uneasy like Erika. A group of 5 or so men (or college kids after 3pm) laughing and chatting is intimidating and I hate it, so I don’t visit my gym weekday evenings unless I absolutely have to.
Get in early and get out early. I’ll go somewhere between 8 am and 10 am on a week day, I’d go even earlier if my gym was within walking distance, but it’s a 30 minute drive away. I find the people at these times much more agreeable, they’ll smile at you if catch their eye but otherwise will leave you alone. These are the people serious about fitness; they probably have jobs, children and things to do so they’re wanting to be in and out as quickly as possible, they’re not there to make friends. This makes them the perfect people to be around when at the gym so you can focus on doing your best without distractions. If you can’t go before work in the morning, go sometime after 8pm when the socialisers and idiots realise they best get home so they don’t piss off their “birds” (common British slang for girlfriend) – the gym will start winding down for the night so you can be left to do your thing.
Take your iPod
Man, I don’t know what I’d do without this glorious piece of technology. When I have my ear buds in and my playlists I specifically made to pump me up for the gym, I am sodding invincible. They are like the sunglasses of the gym world; most people leave me alone and those who don’t, I can pretend I haven’t heard when I actually have because I don’t have my music on loud. If you pick songs that you love and make you feel energetic and confident, it’ll really help take you out of the gym in your mind. When I’ve got my earphones in and not looking in the countless mirrors gyms love, I might as well be the only person there and it’s great.
“Been there, done that, doesn’t help me feel any better!”
Okay, don’t worry, it looks like you’ll need my “How to weight train from home” post that I’ll be writing early next week.