Sweat it solo! 10 tips to conquer your fear of working out alone
For some of us, the idea of working out alone at the gym fills us with a cold sense of dread. "But everyone will be looking at me," we think. Um, that's not actually strictly true. When was the last time you spent your workout watching everyone else? Most people are too focused on smashing their own fitness goals to pay you any attention - and if someone does look your way, it could be out of admiration for your cool workout gear or amazement at your impressive lifting prowess more than anything else. Working out alone is actually a really positive thing. Without any distractions, you're more likely to focus on your own health and fitness and remember exactly why you joined the gym or signed up to that Pilates class. So wave by-bye to distractions, leave your fitness buddy at home and enjoy sweating it solo - because we promise, it's easier than it sounds. Don't believe us? These 10 tips will make your solo workouts a happier experience.
#1. Plug in
This has to be the best tip around for working out solo. When you're pounding away on the treadmill to your favourite tracks, you're fully immersed in the fitness experience, with nothing to sidetrack you. The right music can motivate you and push you to achieve your goals - pick an upbeat track and you could even enjoy a mood boost! So make sure your iPod is fully charged before hitting the gym - turn up, plug in, and get going!
#2. Set goals
You wouldn't do your weekly shop without a list (well, you might, but you're going to end up with a trolley packed with things you don't need), so why hit the gym without an ultimate workout goal? Whether you want to smash your running time or burn a set amount of calories at your spin class, having a set goal (or two, or three) in mind for each workout gives you something to aim towards. If you start feeling anxious or self-conscious, just focus on what you're trying to achieve and feel the stress melt away.
#3. Avoid mirrors
Unless you're the kind of person who loves seeing themselves sweaty and red-faced in a mirror, avoid gyms which have a huge wall of mirrors opposite the equipment. Easier said than done, you might be thinking, but you don't necessarily have to join the biggest, flashiest fitness club in your area. If you're working out during 'normal' hours - that is in the mornings and after work, smaller gyms might be able to offer you a better deal for your money. Sure, they may be open fewer hours, so a workout at 2am might not be possible, but it's worth it for the lack of the dreaded mirrored wall. If you're new to fitness or just feel shy about working out solo, avoid the mirrors!
#4. Take a tour
If you haven't joined a gym yet and are hunting for the right one for you, take advantage of the special offers and introductory tours many clubs provide. Most will be happy to offer you an introductory day pass which includes a tour of the premises. This way you can see how comfortable you'll feel working out there solo and have the chance to ask questions about classes, personal trainers and other essential things, like showers and lockers.
#5. Get a trainer
Working out without a fitness buddy? Doesn't mean you have to go it totally alone. Hiring a personal trainer gives you somebody to motivate you whilst also ensuring that you're going to meet - and exceed - those health and fitness goals. Working with somebody who is dedicated to pushing you and making you work harder is the ultimate challenge, and you'll find yourself wanting to impress. Personal trainers can also help with workout planning and nutritional advice, and you'll be so focused on what you're doing, you won't have time to feel weird about being at the gym alone.
#6. Hit it off-peak
You know how the gym's busiest first thing in the morning and after work? Hit the gym at off-peak times and you could benefit not only from cheaper membership fees but also a quieter, more chilled out workout experience. If you're new to working out solo, head for the gym during the day when everyone else is at work and you'll have your pick of the equipment - great if you're feeling like all eyes are on you. Once you gain confidence and start to tone up, you'll probably find you're happy to be there even when it's busy!
#7. Get some new gear
Nothing makes you feel better when you're at a spin class or lifting weights than new workout gear. From a pair of training shoes you love to the latest yoga kit, choose styles and colours which are flattering and comfortable. Girls, you don't have to rock a tiny crop top and skintight yoga pants to look good working out - but we do recommend the right sports bra to keep you supported. Likewise guys, there's no need to show off your muscles in a tight vest if that's not your usual style. Wear something that makes you feel good and is flexible enough to move with your body and you'll have a great workout!
#8. Try gym alternatives
Nobody says you have to workout at the gym, although if you do have membership, make sure you're getting the most out of it. There are plenty of great alternatives to the gym - so you could make Monday night the night for a solo gym fix whilst Wednesday and Friday could be for other activities. Bouldering, dance classes, ice skating, boxing, martial arts - the list is endless and all these activities will give you a great workout whilst being fun too. Plus, by going it alone you might meet some new friends who share your interests!
#9. Keep it healthy
You're not going to feel good about yourself if you chow down on a cheeseburger and chips before the gym. Keep things healthy and eat a well-balanced meal before your workout and you'll be amazed at what it can do for your confidence levels! A light salad with perhaps some salmon or chicken breast for protein or even a healthy cereal bar and a protein shake to fuel your muscles are far better choices than anything that's packed with fat. They say you are what you eat - and it's true!
#10. Stop worrying about what others think
Easier said than done, we know. But if you waste your time worrying about what others think of you, you're not going to get very far in life. You're always going to get those who criticise you or have something harsh to say. If you feel like you need some company for your workout or you're not in the mood to hit the equipment alone, take a spin class or try some yoga. You'll be amongst like-minded people focusing on a common goal - to get fitter, happier and healthier!