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4 Ways to Feel Stupidly Confident at the Gym

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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 January 27, 2022

5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

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5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

Food plays an integral role in our lives and rightfully so: the food we eat is intricately intertwined with our culture. You can learn a lot about a particular culture by exploring their food. In fact, it may be difficult to fully define a culture without a nod to their cuisine.

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825).

Don’t believe me? Here’s why food is the best way to understand a culture:

Food is a universal necessity.

It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re from – you have to eat. And your societal culture most likely evolved from that very need, the need to eat. Once they ventured beyond hunting and gathering, many early civilizations organized themselves in ways that facilitated food distribution and production. That also meant that the animals, land and resources you were near dictated not only what you’d consume, but how you’d prepare and cook it. The establishment of the spice trade and the merchant silk road are two example of the great lengths many took to obtain desirable ingredients.

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Food preservation techniques are unique to climates and lifestyle.

Ever wonder why the process to preserve meat is so different around the world? It has to do with local resources, needs, and climates. In Morocco, Khlea is a dish composed of dried beef preserved in spices and then packed in animal fat. When preserved correctly, it’s still good for two years when stored at room temperature. That makes a lot of sense in Morocco, where the country historically has had a strong nomadic population, desert landscape, and extremely warm, dry temperatures.

Staples of a local cuisines illustrate historical eating patterns.

Some societies have cuisines that are entirely based on meat, and others are almost entirely plant-based. Some have seasonal variety and their cuisines change accordingly during different parts of the year. India’s cuisine is extremely varied from region to region, with meat and wheat heavy dishes in the far north, to spectacular fish delicacies in the east, to rice-based vegetarian diets in the south, and many more variations in between.

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The western part of India is home to a group of strict vegetarians: they not only avoid flesh and eggs, but even certain strong aromatics like garlic, or root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Dishes like Papri Chat, featuring vegetable based chutneys mixed with yoghurt, herbs and spices are popular.

Components of popular dishes can reveal cultural secrets.

This is probably the most intriguing part of studying a specific cuisine. Certain regions of the world have certain ingredients easily available to them. Most people know that common foods such as corn, tomatoes, chili peppers, and chocolate are native to the Americas, or “New World”. Many of today’s chefs consider themselves to be extremely modern when fusing cuisines, but cultural lines blended long ago when it comes to purity of ingredients.

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Black pepper originated in Asia but became, and still remains, a critical part of European cuisine. The Belgians are some of the finest chocolatiers, despite it not being native to the old world. And perhaps one of the most interesting result from the blending of two cuisines is Chicken Tikka Masala; it resembles an Indian Mughali dish, but was actually invented by the British!

Food tourism – it’s a whole new way to travel.

Some people have taken the intergation of food and culture to a new level. No trip they take is complete with out a well-researched meal plan, that dictates not only the time of year for their visit, but also how they will experience a new culture.

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So, a food tourist won’t just focus on having a pint at Oktoberfest, but will be interested in learning the German beer making process, and possibly how they can make their own fresh brew. Food tourists visit many of the popular mainstays for traditional tourism, like New York City, San Francisco, London, or Paris, but many locations that they frequent, such as Armenia or Laos, may be off the beaten path for most travelers. And since their interest in food is more than meal deep, they have the chance to learn local preparation techniques that can shed insight into a whole other aspect of a particular region’s culture.

Featured photo credit: Young Shih via unsplash.com

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