by Irene Richardson

Imagine going to a football game but instead of the ginormous jumbotron displaying players, it shows you, alone, struggling to complete a task you have never performed. This sounds like some kind of nightmare, but for many introverts, this is a reality.

Social situations often feel this way for introverts. Trying to find collaborators for a group project in a class where you do not know a soul, or making conversation at parties where you only know the friend you came with — these are the events that a shy person dreads.

Now, with everyone’s health resolutions in full swing, another setting is added to that list: The gym. Some people feel right at home in the gym, but for an introvert who is just beginning to exercise in public, it is an unsettling, uncertain space.

The doubt begins with not knowing how to use a particular machine and continues with constantly questioning if everyone is staring. You feel as if someone placed you on a pedestal, a bright spotlight glaring down on you, and everyone will judge any false movement. In addition, you fear you’ll see someone you know, and that person will immediately join in on the judgment fest.

However, going to the gym should not cause anxiety. Nothing should stop your journey to getting stronger, mentally and physically. The great thing about the gym is that it is a very selfish place. Everyone is there only for herself, which means there is no time to focus on anyone else. You should remember this. Working out is personal, and everyone has different techniques and routines. There is no special formula, only your own.

Having a workout buddy is fantastic, especially if she is more experienced than you so she can help with form and can maneuver tricky machines. However, schedules conflict and you cannot always rely on someone to be there with you when you go to the gym. A perfectly good workout opportunity should not be wasted because you are afraid to go alone.

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Having a plan before hitting the gym makes showing up much less scary and gives yourself a glowing confidence. Ask your workout buddy to design a routine for you to follow, or go online to discover an abundance of YouTube channels that star fitness gurus. Whitney Simmons is great because along with describing all of her workouts in detail, she is super encouraging.

Another option is that most gyms offer group classes. Classes are great because no one except the instructor knows the plan for the day. This way, you truly feel you’re all in it together. Classes also create an opportunity for you to blend in with the crowd.

The most important thing to remember while exercising, though, is that however you work out, you should enjoy it. If you are enjoying being active, you are less likely to focus on your surroundings and instead focus on your improvement.

Cover photo by Martin Barák on Unsplash, story photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash;