Meggan Grubb’s tips for ending gym-timidation as 40% of women admit avoidance

Obviously, women are entitled to exactly the same as any man. We’ve fought hard for equality,and to end any bias around what we can or can’t do – although sadly sometimes it feels like we still have a long way to go!

One space that often seems male-dominated is the gym. A recent study by Origym found that two in five women avoid the gym because men make them feel uncomfortable, with the top reasons cited being standing too close and making patronising comments.

“It makes me feel really frustrated that women don’t feel comfortable in the gym, because it’s our right to be there the same as anyone else. Women should feel empowered by their decision to workout and should never feel like they don’t deserve to be there,” says Meggan Grubb, Fitness Influencer and the founder of fitness app Beyond.

Meggan has some top tips for ridding yourself of gym-timidation once and for all…

Don’t compare yourself

“In most cases, everyone is in the gym work on themselves. They don’t care what you’re doing, like you are not concerned with what they’re doing. You’re in the same boat just taking time for yourself, and trying to work towards individual goals. Most people aren’t experts!”

Meggan admits, “I’ve been going to the gym consistently for six years and there’s still plenty that I don’t know about, but that’s okay. It’s tough as adults as there aren’t many places we feel totally vulnerable so the gym can be a scary place where we feel out of our depth.

"This is especially true when we are tackling something we’ve not tried before. Remember why you’re there in the first place to inspire yourself to keep going and remember, it’s fine to admit when you don’t know what you’re doing.

“I worked in a gym for a few years, and we really welcome questions – that’s what we are there for. Most people at the gym are happy to talk because it’s their passion, so don’t be afraid to ask for some guidance or explanations if you need it.”

Be straight forward

“Hopefully, most men will make you feel welcome in any area of the gym like you can do for them. But if I’m ever made to feel uncomfortable by someone, then my first step is to move away if I can, which sends a clear message.

"If it persists, then I will bluntly ask them to stop what they’re doing that is annoying me like, “Would you mind not staring please?” I advise you to do the same if you feel comfortable enough. If the problem persists then report them to the gym, which will hopefully make it a safer and happier space for all women if complaints are taken seriously.

“If anybody tries to explain how to do an exercise to me in a patronising way I usually reply with, “Thank you, but I will be going elsewhere for guidance.” I know a lot of this is easier said than done, but don’t ever feel like it’s not your place to be there and try to not let a few bad eggs ruin your experience of working out.”

Have a plan

“Going to the gym knowing what you’re doing beforehand will put your mind at ease and it will give you more focus so you get more from your session,” says Meggan.

“You won’t be wandering around aimlessly and getting progressively more nervous. You can learn the gym by following an online plan or downloading an app like Beyond.

"If you don’t want to pay there are plenty of free resources out there, especially on YouTube. If the gym offers classes then you can start there, and learn moves that you can then do on your own. If you feel nervous about people being around as you’re learning you can go outside of peak hours, which are usually around 5-8pm each weekday. I actually like going when it’s busy though – with so many people it’s easier to hide.”

Dress for yourself

“It sounds silly but wearing something that you love is likely to make you feel more confident. There’s a reason buying new fitness clothes increases our chances of actually going to the gym.”

Meggan continued, “For one person that could be a baggy jumper, for another that could be bright yellow cycling shorts. Find what makes you happy, and ignore what you think you should wear. Who cares about following any kind of gym fashion rule?

"Order a few different things and test them out in front of the mirror at home before pulling out the tags. I like to make sure my leggings are squat proof – this basically means you can’t see my pants when I do deep exercises, and ensure that my sports bra is supportive by doing a few jumps. If your outfit fits correctly, and doesn’t ride up when you’re moving then you’re going to feel physically comfortable, which will lead to feeling mentally comfortable.”

Pick your music wisely

“Get your playlist ready and blast it through your headphones from the moment you enter the gym. You’ll find yourself getting into your own zone and worrying less about the surroundings, and whether people are looking at you.”

Meggan explains how to pick your gym music. “Pick songs that make you happy. I always listen to the Mamma Mia soundtrack – it reminds me of going out dancing with my best friends. One of my friends likes listening to Adele’s power ballads. It doesn’t matter what you choose, just pick something for your own enjoyment. Going to the gym is about you after all.”

Choose your equipment wisely

“The amount of different exercises and equipment on offer at the gym can be overwhelming.

"If you feel like you’ve got too many options, then pick just one piece of equipment to work with, find a space and do your thing. I advise going for the dumbbells – they are very versatile and you can work your full body out with them. Some exercises include squats, bicep curls, renegade rows, and pressing them. You’ll never run out of options, and can keep mixing it up.”

Get a workout buddy

“Going to the gym with someone is such a great way to motivate each other. You can also laugh together when things go wrong. You may feel less self-conscious trying new things or going into different territories when you’ve got someone there who is genuinely supportive of your fitness journey.

"If you don’t have a friend who wants to go with you to the gym, then going to classes can be a great way to meet someone. Also if you’re using a fitness app, you may be able to find people in your area through forums, social media hashtags and even chat rooms.”

Meggan Grubb is the founder of fitness and mental health app ‘Beyond’. Beyond is available to download from the ‘App Store’ and ‘Google Play’ from £9.99 per month with a 7-day free trial.

Follow Megan Grubb on Instagram.

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