It's been close to 7 years since I last stepped foot in a commercial gym to train. I worked in one of the busiest facilities in all of southern California, and the one thing that remains the same is the crazy ratio of men-to-women in the free weights section.
In that time I've had the pleasure to work with many women who have said to me they were very intimidated by the free weights area of the gym. Even after finishing their time with me and being more knowledgeable than their male friends "who lift", they still feel uncomfortable around the barbells and dumbbells at their local gym.
Because of this many ladies stick to cardio classes, aerobics, or machine based strength training; all of which are good but inferior as it pertains to really making positive physique changes.
Here are four tips to help ladies to feel more at ease in the weight room.
1. Put your headphones on and wear something that makes you feel confident.
AH! The universal sign to GET LOST AND LEAVE ME ALONE, earphones in (sadly some guys will ignore this).
Feel free to turn it up and rock out to whatever it is you're listening to and just zone out for that 40-60 minutes you're in there. You'll drown out the grunting, weights banging and annoying guy asking if you need help to refill your water because you know, you're a woman and you're a delicate flower who shouldn't lift more than 5 lbs!
What you wear will of course depend on what makes you feel like a badass. MOST guys will not bother you, but of course there's always one or two bad apples that stare and gawk in the most obvious way possible. No wonder many ladies feel weird lifting weights. So there's a creepy guy nearby and I need to perform RDL's. Yeah I'd rather hop onto the elliptical.
To this I would tell management about it if you don't feel like slapping this idiot upside the head yourself. I would routinely have to walk up to these guys and let them know we had received some complaints about uncomfortable levels of starring and if they didn't stop we'd have to ask them to leave.
Get it together guys! Quit being assholes. We all pay the same amount for the gym you're attending, be cool!
2. Have a plan once you're in there.
If you have to wander around trying to figure out what to do, it will only lead to you feeling more uncomfortable and unsure about what you're even doing in there.
There are many starter programs out there that would be beneficial for ladies such as Strong Curves by Bret Contreras and Kellie Davis and Lift Weights Faster by Jen Sinkler. When you have a direction, it allows you to go in there and handle business.
3. Find a good gym.
Finding the right gym is important to really excelling. If you aren't comfortable in your gym how will you be able to let loose and have at it!?
Independent gyms seem to be a better option but tend to be inconvenient with most only having one location. Certain commercial facilities are better than others and within each company there are better locations (equipment, parking, amenities, etc).
I was a member of 24 hr fitness, and would rather drive 10 minutes to another location simply because I felt most comfortable there over one down the block from me. If it allows for better results, it's worth the commute.
4. Hire a Trainer
Cough Cough...Hello there! Haha.
I'm on the fence when it comes to this as I've seen my share of TERRRRRRRRRIBLE trainers at commercial gyms.
I mean turrible. Thanks Chuck!
But what they can do is help show you the layout of the facility and some basic movement patterns. Beyond that it's a bit of a crapshoot what type of trainer you'll end up with. Some are better than others, ask around and you'll tend to find which trainer at the facility fits your personality and goals the best.
Unless you hire me.
You're golden with me! ;-)
If any of this information here was helpful, insightful or even just a little funny and you know someone who might benefit from it...please do share!