If you’re feeling a bit intimidated about going to the gym, whatever your shape and size because of body confidence issues, this post may be for you.
The gym can feel like it is full of very fit people who know what they are doing and it’s easy to feel pretty rubbish in comparision, especially if you have bits that jiggle. Firstly – you are awesome for being in the gym in the first place! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having bits that jiggle – I’m proud of my curves and I rock the box jumps!
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘fake it til you make it’? No, not like that, naughty! It’s about how sometimes, whoever we are and whatever we are doing we have to fake the confidence before we truly feel it.
For me clothes that make me feel like I look good – and therefore feel good – are part of my confidence armour. Vain and shallow? Maybe, but it works for me.
There was a time when I would endure endless hours of boredom on the cardio machines at the gym and achieving little. I would gaze over at the people having personal training sessions, or doing all sorts of freestyle things using their bodyweight and a range of contraptions thinking that I’d never be able to do any of that. Well, a few months down the line I am liberated from the cardio machines, got myself a personal trainer and am happily* doing all the freestyle things I thought I couldn’t – and I am getting fantastic results.
If you’re feeling self-conscious it can feel tempting to hide yourself under baggy clothes. If that works for you, honestly, that’s great. But hear me out.
How many of you have a gym membership that you rarely, or never use? Spending a bit of money on feeling good when you go to the gym may encourage you to actually use your membership, and therefore protect your financial investment!
And that’s before we even think about the investment for your physical and mental wellbeing you will gain from training.
You don’t have to spend a fortune – I get bargains from places like TK Maxx. You don’t need to have time and patience to rummage through the rails, either because you can shop online instead.
There’s also no point spending a lot on individual items because after a while, no matter how much you wash them session after session of sweating it out means they smell bad.
(This guide focuses on items for women, mainly because I am one and that’s what I know about. If you’re a bloke, feel free to stop reading…or just extrapolate some of the info for your own use).
I prefer vests/singlets instead of t-shirts because less fabric keeps me cooler, and therefore feel less like I am going to expire from heat exhaustion.
Choose a cut that skims the figure without being too tight, or too baggy.
TK Maxx and New Look are great places to find cheap workout tops. Something to be aware of with the New Look tops is they are quite thin, and low cut. I tend to save these for spin class firstly because of how sweaty I get during those classes, and secondly to avoid giving anyone too much of an eyeful of cleavage on the gym floor while I am doing pressups.
Under your top should be a sports bra!
Invest in a good, well-fitting sports bra – your boobs will thank you, as will your neck and back.
It’s important to wear the bra that’s the correct size anyway, and wearing a bra of the correct size while exercising is especially important. That’s because we tend to wear a bra that is too big around the chest – it is the band that is supposed to bear most of the support. If your band is too large, the straps have to do more work than they are supposed to, leading to neck, shoulder, and back muscle aches, as well as red marks on your shoulders.
When I went for a sizing for normal bras, I walked in as a 38 D and walked out as a 34 F!!! Blimey, that’s quite a difference. My favourite sports bra is Shock Absorber. They’re not cheap, but if you shop around you can get some bargains. Having said wearing the correct size bra is vital, I tend to wear a 36F in Shock Absorbers because the band can be really tight.
I find the multi-sport bra to be the best – sort of like a very supportive crop top. The ultimate run bra is good too but loses points for me for the really fiddly clip.
On your bottom half
For years I would wear the bog standard Karrimor running leggings. Nothing wrong with them at all – they do the job. However, they tend to go saggy really quickly.
After discovering leggings with four way stretch I haven’t touched the Karrimor ones again. So what does four way stretch mean? Basically they have a higher percentage of elastane and hold everything in more effectively! The first time I put them on felt like a huge effort – kind of like wearing Spanx – but I soon got used to them. My favourites are from RBX.
Bear in mind, though, the compression doesn’t make lumps disappear, just smoother! (Sorry, they’re not magic). So, if you’re carrying a bit of weight around your middle be aware of muffin top.
Being 5’2″ I prefer to go for capri length, which sits on my calf. Full length versions tend to be too long.
On Your Feet
Now I do more floor work than working out on the cardio machines, my favourite training shoes are my Nike Free Tranform Flyknit. Firstly, they are absolutely beautiful…and their soles, which are thinner and lighter than regular trainers give a better grip on the floor for things like squats, lunges, TRX, and jumps.
They felt a bit strange at first because I’m used to the bouncier sort of trainers, and the fit is a lot tighter but now I wouldn’t be without them.
And finally…boxing gloves!
To me, my boxing gloves are as vital as my trainers, or other piece of kit. I love boxing – it is a great stress-reliever, feels empowering while burning fat and building muscle. What’s not to love?
I invested in my own pair because I love it so much: it’s an integral part of my PT sessions (he holds pads), and I hit seven bells out of the bag on other days. The feeling is even better than cake, which used to be my stress release.
(* the concept of doing anything ‘happily’ doesn’t yet apply to burpees. Ugh).
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