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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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