FITNESS: Avoid Gymtimidation | Great Health Guide
FITNESS: Avoid Gymtimidation

FITNESS: Avoid Gymtimidation

“Avoid Gymtimidation” written by Kat Millar published in Great Health Guide (April 2017). Do you feel intimated at the gym where the ratio of men to women is very high? So, you’re not alone. Here are three great tips on how to avoid feeling uncomfortable in a gym that may be dominated by men.
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Fitness: Avoid Gymtimidation

written by Kat Millar

It’s 8pm on a Friday night. I’m in the gym doing some weight training and I look around and count at least 40 guys working out and only 2 other women – both of whom are doing cardio. Having a 3:40 ratio of women to men in the gym is nothing new, it’s been happening for many decades. I often ponder the potential reasons for this skewed ratio.

I might think that it’s because women are at home with the kids while the men are out having guy time, or that men want to pump up their muscles before a night out, or I may assume that it’s because women don’t like to weight train at the level that men do.


While these could be true – I know from many conversations with female clients and friends, that many have suffered from the disease of ‘gymtimidation’.

Do you ever wander past the weights area of a gym and see red-faced men pumping their muscles ‘til they look like they’re going to pop and hear the clanging boom of Olympic bars being dropped and think, ‘I don’t think I’ll venture into the weights area today’? If so, you’re not alone.


So, why is it? I put the question out there to my Facebook friends:

‘Why do you think women don’t go into the weights area as much as men?’

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The three main reasons came back:

1. Feeling uncomfortable

2. Fear of being looked at, judged or stared at

3. Intimidation

How do you avoid the uncomfortable feeling of being one of the few, if not the only female in the weights area? As a regular gym-goer, who has spent over 20 years training consistently in various weights areas of gyms around the world, I’ve discovered a few things that have helped me feel at home in gyms.

Here are my top three tips:

1. Realise that most men are concerned with THEMSELVES:

Most guys in the gym LOVE weight training. They are wired at a primal level to love it.

Men have 12-16 times the testosterone as females and most of them feel a need to lift and chuck around heavy objects, to simply feel their own power and strength. Nothing wrong with that; I think it’s healthy and a wonderful way to release stress (for them as well as us).

Occasionally, they might glance up if some female walks by, but most are there to train; they don’t have time to pay too much attention to what girls are doing (unless wearing a very low top, tiny shorts and deadlifting right in front of them). There are, of course, exceptions to this, but I’ve found that in most cases, men want a pump more than a gape.

Most of them push themselves like crazy and I find it a great place to pick up extra inspiration to push out those last few painful reps. For this reason, I LIKE training with the boys. I find it motivating.

2. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, ask for help:

Unless you’re at a gym with no staff, there are generally staff members that are happy to help you if you simply ask. Most staff members welcome the break.

In my 13 years as a Personal Trainer, I’ve never once resented anyone asking me how to use equipment. Unless a PT is training a client, most of the time they love to give advice. Also, educate yourself, by doing some research on how to use different equipment. Ideally, get an exercise professional to check your technique to ensure you are moving safely and effectively.

3. Choose to be present with yourself and your own workout:

Ultimately, there are so many positive outcomes to resistance training, that it’s not worth giving up, especially over some of the ‘exceptions to the rules’ types of guys in the gym. It helps to follow a program or have a clear plan, as well as a few tricks up your sleeve if the equipment is being used. Create a playlist of your favourite songs, pop your earphones and get stuck in.

If at any point you feel intimidated, you can always move away. Remember: no one can make you feel uncomfortable without your permission.

It’s not worth surrendering the wonderful benefits, such as increased strength, metabolism, muscle tone, bone density and fat loss, to stay in your safe zone. And one of the best benefits is a feeling of inner strength and confidence that comes from overcoming your fears.

Author of this article:
Kat Millar owns Get Results Training, dedicated to helping people transform their health, mind & body. Since 2003, Kat has helped thousands of people achieve their goals. She’s a coach, speaker, award-winning figure competitor, fitness lecturer & NLP practitioner. Her passion helps people achieve life-changing results & fulfillment, with a range of programs for holistic health & body transformation. Contact via Kat’s website or Facebook

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Author Kathryn Dodd

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