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    Tis the season for the 2019 resolutions. A top one? Weight loss and fitness. Often this leads to a two-week high, anticipating snatched waist lines and sweating off holiday pounds. However, for some this time of year presents anxiety and what I deem gymtimidation.

    Yes, gymtimidation. I define it as the feeling of intimidation after a long gym sabbatical or becoming a first-time gym goer as part of a new year resolution. I get it; stepping into the atmosphere of fitness fanatics, slamming weights, high testosterone yelling meatheads can be overwhelming. But if you’ve got goals, you must get out your feelings and take the first steps to make lasting change. Here are six ways to fend off gymtimidation:

    Commit to small, measurable, and doable steps. When you come out the gate with big expectations, you may find your body — and mind — are not ready.  Planning to do the Stairmaster for 45 minutes, 300 reps of abs and 100 squats despite not having a previous consistent workout routine is Team Too Much. Setting goals that are too lofty often cause a downfall.  After not being able to follow through, you may retreat and simply give up. Here’s the thing to remember: You build strength and endurance.  This takes time so start small and build up from there. Trust – eventually, you will notice a difference.

     Don’t compare yourself to other women in the gym. Sure, you will see some sistas rocking six-pack abs and video vixen bodies. Truth is, they’ve probably been about that workout life for quite some time. A mistake new gym members make is getting discouraged when they see other women who are at another level of fitness. Look, you are YOU. Simply work on being the best version of yourself. Comparison will not cause growth but possibly more discouragement. If you see a woman who looks good, compliment her. Ask her about her routine. 95% will not only embrace a flattering comment but are willing to answer questions to help another sista achieve her fitness ambitions.

    Be aware of peak times. This time of year, the gym is filled with people who have made the same resolution as you – on top of the regular crowd. That means the gym will be busier than usual from January until March. (Sidebar: March tends to be the falloff time.) Be patient trying to get a parking space or get on equipment, particularly Monday – Thursday between 5am and 6am, then again between 5pm and 7pm. On Saturdays, 8:30am until about 12:30 tends to be the busiest. Another heads up about peak time? Ignore the distractions. The loud grunts, old dudes who creepily watch workout classes, vulgar conversations and the like. Put on your noise cancelling headphones – and your game face so bothersome folks will stay out of yours.

    Focus on the workout – not being cute. That should explain itself. You can get back to sexy when the workout is over. Don’t fret over wearing your face not being beat or having your hair under a scarf or cap. Put in the sweat equity and show off your fineness outside the gym. You can still look decent – or even good for you cute workout gals. (No, I am not one.) I am not saying you should look sloppy or like you’re advertising for hotmess.org; just don’t let your self-consciousness over appearance add unnecessary stress to your gym time. If you’re single, you can still catch in the gym without looking like you’re headed for the club.

    Discover ways to workout at home – with nominal (or no) equipment and weights. There will be days where situations pop up and going to the gym may not be an option. Don’t let that deter you from your path. There are various apps, websites, and plans that can help you stay in shape during your time outside the gym. I like to do me some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for cardio while watching ratchet TV. I Googled and bam! I have an alternative for those days I can’t make it.

    Incorporate inspiration or worship into your workout. I believe in 3 John 2 health – “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” As I work my body, I feed my soul. I listen to sermons from various podcasts, gospel music and inspirational speakers. What speaks to your soul? Whatever it is, make it a part of your fitness routine. It not only helps you through your exercises but feeds the part of you that isn’t physical. Our emotional and mental health needs to be nourished; it’s possible to fulfill that mission while you sweat it out.

    While I love my food — and don’t work out seven days a week– fitness is a lifestyle decision. By no means am I perfect or hitting any stages doing weight competitions. But what I can tell you I’m a regular woman who has implemented exercise into my life to be healthier and relieve stress. When you find your “why” and stick to it, gymtimidation will be a thing of the past. It’s not about being in perfect shape but perfecting your health to become the best you.

    Here’s to becoming just that in 2019 and beyond!