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4 Ways to Feel Stupidly Confident at the Gym

4 Ways to Feel Stupidly Confident at the Gym

It’s easy to feel judged or intimidated at the gym, especially when you’re surrounded by regular gym-goers who always seem so confident. Sometimes, when they’re posing in the mirror or grunting obnoxiously, it can be downright annoying.

And when you see them doing squats or bench presses with so much weight on the bar you can barely count that high, it’s just incredible.

How can you learn to be so confident at the gym?

1) Have a Plan

Have you ever wandered around the gym wondering what to do next? I know I did when I was starting out, trying to look like I knew what I was doing while I snuck a peek at the pictures on each machine to figure out what on earth it’s used for.

Actually doing exercise is the easy part. In between sets, when you aren’t sure what to do, is when you start to get up in your own head.

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In order to fix that problem, find or put together a specific workout to follow. Know how to do every exercise before you set foot in the gym, so you don’t have to spend time awkwardly looking up video demonstrations between sets.

With a specific program to follow, you can flow easily from exercise to exercise. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a great program (my first one certainly was not). Find a program that looks good and follow it. You can always switch once you build up some confidence.

2) Focus on Your Exercise

Looking around at insanely fit people is a great way to feel weak and nervous at the gym. Comparing yourself to fit people can be a nightmare.

It’s also hard to stop comparing yourself. Especially when you see them doing the same exercises, but a million times better.

In order to redirect your attention, do a simple mindfulness exercise. The most common mindfulness exercises involve focusing on your breath, which is a fine thing to do between sets. Simply count each breath, feeling it exit your body and starting over every time you reach 10. Once your keyed in on your breath, you’ll find it harder to focus on other things.

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During sets, you’re already engaged in mindfulness. Personal trainers and strength coaches just call it “cueing.”

If you’ve ever been told to “push through your heels” (for a squat) or “bend the bar” (for a bench press), you’ve done a mindfulness exercise. The cues you use are different for each exercise, but having them and focusing on them takes your attention away from more negative thoughts.

3) Out-logic the Haters

If you’ve ever told an experienced gym-goer that you feel judged in the gym, they might told you not to worry about it because “no one is judging you.”

For the most part, that’s true. But being told that and believing it are two very different things. To train yourself to believe it (or ignore people that are judging), try using a technique from cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Write down the things that people might be thinking about you. Below that, logic them away; put together an argument for why people aren’t judging you at all, or why it doesn’t matter if they do.

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The argument that helped me the most was asking “so what?” The progression of thoughts went like this:

  • So people are judging you, so what?
  • If people are judging you, they probably think less of you. So what?
  • If they think less of you, you won’t be friends with them. So what?
  • You don’t know these people, and them judging you can’t actually affect your workout unless you let it. Problem solved!

Your examples might be different, but working through them on paper helps you get to the root of the problem and deal with it.

4) Become Part of the Gang

It almost seems strange to think “I don’t feel fit enough to go to the gym.” After all, gyms are place for people to get fit, and no one magically becomes fit over night.

Still, not feeling like you belong in the gym is a very real and common problem. How can you fix it?

Learning the etiquette and unspoken rules of the gym can help. Things like re-racking your weights, knowing how to ask for a spot, and not hogging specific pieces of important equipment can help you out. Wearing real gym clothes instead of eight-year-old basketball shorts and a t-shirt can also help you feel more at home and fit in.

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But the real answer here is time.

As you get more familiar with your routine and your gym, you’ll start to feel more comfortable in the gym. Especially once you see and feel your body changing, you’ll start to feel like you belong.

Because, as a regular gym-goer with unshakable confidence, you will.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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