Over the years there has been a great emphasis on providing fitness resources for females and bringing awareness to the lack of physical activity. The push is for females to get motivated and moving, but there is still a large percentage that have doubts and uncertainties. As young girls enter adolescence, their involvement in sports and physical activity tend to decreases due to the fear of judgement.
Research has determined the concern with appearance and lack of fitness abilities has initiated this fear. As a result, we see an increase in sedentary lifestyle. Young girls who participate in less physical activity as they move towards their teenage years are dictating the lifestyle they will have when reach adulthood. This overpowering fear can affect women of all age and even men who struggle to live up to a certain physique or fitness ability. As society moves forward providing more opportunities, the issue is now getting young women to build up the courage to put themselves in the right environment to succeed.
Over the past four years, I have had the pleasure of working in a dorm with girls ranging from 13 to 19 years old. I have always encouraged them to go out and be active, try new things and not be afraid of exercise. I have provided programs and fitness sessions in the dorm just to show them what they can do with a few sets of stairs and a long hallway. Showing girls that exercise can be done anywhere was intended to display what they can accomplish in a location they feel most comfortable.
One of the most common patterns I have seen over time is the lack of confidence and willingness to engage in exercise. Girls come into the gym, take a look around and decide not to workout just because there is a group of boys using the space. This absolutely pains me to see because I know the motivation is there but the situation is what drives them away. Many have expressed they feel uncomfortable exercising in a gym or even outside because they are afraid of who might see them. Others say they would like to work out but aren’t sure about what they’re doing and don’t want to look stupid. This fear of judgment and a lack of confidence has truly become the number one barrier.
Walking into a room filled with people and having everyone stare may not be preventable, BUT you can learn how to beat the fear and carry on. One little thing I like to do is give a big smile as I carry on my workout (which usually results in a smile back). To this day I still struggle with feeling slightly uncomfortable in a new environment but I have learned how to overcome it. I don’t let my fears of what others might think get in the way of my success. I’ve broken down some ways I found useful in overcoming fear. I highly recommend checking out Iron Athletics 8 Steps to Starting Your Fitness Journey for a complete breakdown. To get your free checklist, click here.
ASK: Expand Your Knowledge
Start by gathering resources. Make a list of who you know and what they can contribute to get you on track. It is your job to contact them and take advantage of the information they provide. Over time I have had many people approach me about working out or expressing interest in how I stay active. I have always passed on as much knowledge as I could and even referred them to someone that could help them further. I myself have looked to friends or teachers to answer questions and connect me with resources that would expand my knowledge. It all comes down to talking to those you feel comfortable with and creating a network.
For my young ladies out there, I suggest turning to a peer, teacher, coach, or trainer. It is up to you to ask questions and figure out your next steps. Try asking these starter questions:
What gyms would you recommend and why?
Are there any places you would not recommend and why?
Have you ever worked with a trainer? What did you like/dislike about them?
Have you ever tried exercising at home? What worked/didn’t work for you?
What motivates you to workout?
How did you get started?
There are many other questions you can ask to gain a better understanding, but these are a great starting point. Don’t be afraid to ask specifics if it’ll help you down the road.
There are many free resources typically offered to the public (such as seminars and consultations) that are extremely beneficial. For example, Iron Athletics held a free female lifting seminar to help educate women on the importance and technique of strength training. A simple two hour seminar can really change your perspective and get the ball rolling. Talk to people and see what is out there for you in your area (click here to get our emails for our next seminar).
CREATE: Write A Plan
Plan for your success. There is nothing more discouraging than not knowing where to go or what to do. New locations can be intimidating, so if you decide to join a facility to kick start your workouts, make sure you have taken a tour. Be sure to ask questions and take notes of how to use equipment that may be new to you. Once you are aware of what you have access to, it is time to write down your fitness goals and program.
Although I highly recommend utilizing a professional trainer, there are many online resources you can use to help find exercises you wish to try (with videos as well). Click here to check out ExRx online exercise directory. As always, do your research and and ensure you can safely perform your selected exercises.
Think of your trips to the gym as a trip to the grocery store. The purpose of making a list (your program) is to make sure you know exactly what to get so that you don’t end up lost in an aisle or distracted. When you hit the gym, go in with your list and check off everything you wanted to complete. Get ready to soon embrace that sweet feeling of success!
Another important component of your new fitness journey will be support and motivation. It might sound silly to write this out but when the time comes and you’re truly having doubts, go back to this list to see who/what can assist you. Motivation can come from anything, anyone or anywhere, even your environment. Some prefer big spaces with loud people pumping each other up, whereas others may rather be in a quiet space or outdoors with a relaxing setting. It all comes down to your preference.
Your inner circle of people will be crucial for your success. Your motivators may include your trainer, friend, child, spouse or even your pet! Having a supportive network to rely on during tough times can make or break your routine. Talk to your circle frequently and ensure you are there for them as well.
I highly recommend finding a gym buddy. They keep you accountable, can act as a spotter and share in a few laughs when something doesn’t go as planned. Try finding someone with similar experience or challenge yourself to work with someone who is highly trained to teach you a thing or two. Personally, I love training with friends because I always have someone to review my technique and watch my incredible dance moves in between sets.
Speaking of dancing, there is nothing more exciting than creating a hot new playlist to blast while you train. Whenever I prepare for a long cardio session, I always ensure my music is set up and ready to go. Remember, always know what you are doing beforehand so you don’t get too distracted by your awesome karaoke skills. In most cases, those who go to the gym without a plan will not be as productive. Being productive keeps you on track, allows more work to be put in and prevents wasting any time.
#1 on my playlist: Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee – Despacito ft. Justin Bieber
PROVIDE: Be A Supporter
Be someone else’s support system. In order to build a culture for females to feel comfortable, we all need to support one another. Take time to check in with your friends, family members or even co-workers. Something as simple as talking and sharing experiences can go a long way. It’s a way to build connections and let’s others know they are not the only ones running into these barriers.
Other ways you can be part of a support system is by attending team sporting events, being someone’s gym buddy or jumping out of your comfort zone to try something new with a partner. You may not know it, but your support can play an important role in someone else’s fitness journey and it all stems from a few simple actions! If you see someone struggling at the gym, ask first if they need some help. If they ask, offer some advice to help their workout along. We have all been in that uncomfortable situation and appreciated a friendly face helping us out. Pass on the positive vibes and contribute to creating a productive environment for all.
Everyone’s fitness journey is going to be different. Fears can take a bit of time to overcome for some but it’s important to find out what you need to get started. As we share our experiences and connect with others, we continue to move in a positive direction. Check out a couple of my favourite videos below that send awesome messages to inspire women and break the barriers.
For those looking to get started on the right track, I highly recommend joining our community. Get access to our free starter kit and tips along the way. It’s as simple as clicking here to get going. We can provide the help you need to get started. I invite you to follow our Facebook page to get access to daily tips, updates and videos. Let us be your support network and help you beat your fear.