Being Confident at the Gym

My friend Rebecca Koening asked me (jokingly) to post something about workout makeup. However, I don’t put on makeup to go to gym. Usually I try to work out in morning (when I can barely get myself to put pants on).  So although I usually look a bit crazy at the gym in the morning, it doesn’t bother me.  I’m there to work out.

Some old triathlon t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. I don’t think I’ve purchased a workout shirt in…well, I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a workout shirt.

However, her comment made me start thinking about some of my OTHER insecurities in the gym and how I have *started* to overcome them.

When you train for roller derby, your workouts sometimes involve using weird gym equipment in weird places.  “Yes, I’d like to use this jump rope, this box, this bosu ball, these kettlebells, and this theraband all at the same time.  And yes, in your dance studio, and YES I need the whole room to myself.” 

I used to be scared to ask a gym if I could use an area for an unconventional purpose.  However, my need greatly outgrew my fear of rejection, so I have no qualms asking to reserve or use a space (when it is not being used by someone else). Sometimes you get turned down.  But sometimes, you can establish spaces for yourself where you can be uninhibited in whatever type of workout you want to do.

My other big insecurity is using the free weight area at the gym when there are tons of dudes using it.  I am very capable of using all of the equipment, but there are certain elements of the free weight area that I don’t like to interfere with.


For example, I have found that a lot of people will put 1,000 lbs (exaggeration…) on the squat bar, do 5-6 reps, and then walk away to go deadlift 1,000 lbs.  Usually I will casually linger to see if that lifter will return to the squat bar.  Or I will keep looking at them and eyeing the sign that says, “Put back your weight when you are done!!”  in hopes that they’ll take a hint.  If it seems like an inordinate amount of time has passed since their squat reps, I will finally muster up the courage to ask if I can use the equipment. And usually they are very nice (or completely indifferent, which I like as well).  Although it’s a work in progress, I am working hard to remind myself that I have a right to be there just as much as everyone else!  So jump in, take that rack, and grunt if you want to.

If you do feel limited on resources or intimidated at the gym (or don’t have a gym to go to), I also try to reassure myself that it’s fine to do speed work on your sidewalk or agility in your backyard.  I used to worry that people would think I was weird if I ran by them doing high-knees and butt-kickers as they walked their dog on a Saturday morning, but when you care more about being good at roller derby than you do about possibly looking crazy to your neighbors, it becomes easier.

I have also found that a lot of people buy weight equipment and then never use it, only to sell it 10 years later.  If you don’t have access to a gym, get on Craigslist and buy your own stuff!

These weights are over 30 years old. They aren’t pretty, but they still weigh 15lbs!

Yoga block hurdles in my kitchen. We don’t have much space in our apartment…


If you are motivated to workout and want to incorporate more than just the “basics” into your routine, find a way to do it!  If people stare at you, just remember it is probably because they are jealous of your confidence and fitness ability.

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