9 Ways to Feel Less Judged at the Gym

Jennifer Purdie
by Jennifer Purdie
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9 Ways to Feel Less Judged at the Gym

Heading into a gym full of guys with muscular arms the size of your thighs can feel intimidating to anyone with newly minted gym registrations. It’s not only the supersized men, but muscular women with fit-looking bodies who often also turn women off — and these women never return.   

According to a new study by Fitrated, 65% of women do not attend a gym because they fear judgment.

Whether you’re male or female, these certified personal trainers provide advice on how to combat the common reasons for eschewing the gym.

“Bring a partner the first few times: Social support is a huge element when it comes to starting and maintaining a health and fitness routine, but it could also be the key to feeling more confident when you first start going to the gym. Having a friend or family member there provides helpful companionship and takes some of the pressure off.”

Cassy Velez, NASM-certified personal trainer,  ACE certified group fitness instructor

“Worry less about the machines and various contraptions in the gym and start with your bodyweight or a pair of 5-pound dumbbells or heavier and ignore everything else.”

Cassie Lambert, certified personal trainer

“The right gym can make a huge difference. If your area offers several options, visit all of the gyms close to you and see where you feel the most comfortable. The top three criteria women should look for when choosing a gym are: overall positive vibe, location or proximity to your life and being adequately equipped.”

Julie Lohre, IFBB fitness pro, certified personal trainer, certified nutrition specialist, “American Ninja Warrior” contestant

“Invest in a really fun workout outfit. Sometimes we feel insecure about our fitness attire when we go to the gym in sweats. Make yourself feel amazing by investing in a quality pair of shoes, a flattering set of wick-away pants, tank and a supportive sports bra. You’ll feel like a million bucks.”

Kylene Terhune, certified personal trainer

“Work with a certified personal trainer to ensure your movements are spot on — injury prevention should be every trainer’s number 1 priority.”

— Sammy Previte, co-founder of Dietitians of Palm Valley, RD and certified personal trainer

“Ultimately, having a full workout routine outlined and practiced empowers women to feel tasked and focused when they walk through the door, which saves time and reduces hesitance so they can find value and yield progress from their efforts.”

Mike Clancy, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of MikeClancyTraining

“Greet and get to know the staff at your club, including front desk, group exercise instructors, trainers and the housekeeping staff. Feeling like you are in a familiar, friendly environment can help put you at ease.”

Pilar Lorca, certified personal trainer and president/owner of Fitness4EveryBody


“If possible, work with a trainer. A trainer can demonstrate how to use the machines and create the appropriate routine according to [your] fitness level and goals using the free weights, TRX, BOSU, bands, etc. If someone has a high comfort level with her trainer, she is more likely to feel more comfortable at the gym.”

Carol Michaels, IDEA Fitness Trainer of the Year

“Many large gyms have separate rooms where they hold group classes, but, when classes are not in session, these rooms are usually open for use. Try training here. Many of these rooms are flooded with mirrors on all sides, so it can be a great way to practice form.”

Mike Turner, NASM certified personal trainer and  founder of UnityFitness

About the Author

Jennifer Purdie
Jennifer Purdie
Jennifer is a Southern California-based freelance writer who covers topics such as health, fitness, lifestyle and travel for both national and regional publications. She runs marathons across the world and is an Ironman finisher. She is also a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. You can follow her on Twitter @jenpurdie.