A Girl’s Gym Survival Guide

November 9, 2017

girl's gym survival guide

Team BPI athlete, Faith Leatherman has a message for all the ladies out there: fear not! If you ever wanted to start weightlifting, but were too afraid to invade the “bro” section, this survival guide she wrote is for you.

One of the most common questions I get asked is, “How can I get comfortable working out in the weightlifting area around all the dudes?” Now that I’ve been doing this awhile, whenever I get asked, it almost sounds silly to me, until I remember how scared I was starting off. That first day trying to muster up the courage to walk over to the smith machine, through all of the guys grunting and lifting, was not easy. Being on a state college campus at the time, and the fact that it was three years ago when girls lifting weights wasn’t “in”, made it especially difficult. If you’re a woman who is new to lifting, this can seem like an impossible step to take, but there are ways to make it simple!

Plan ahead.

Planning your workouts ahead of time is a MAJOR KEY (Dj Khaled voice). If you know what exercises you’ll be doing and what equipment you’ll need, it’ll give you a lot more confidence going in so you won’t need to worry about standing around looking and feeling clueless. A great place to find exercises is on Bodybuilding.com. Here you can look up “back exercises” and a whole database full of specific exercises will pop up with videos on how to perform them correctly. There is also a wide variety of FREE content all over the Internet. YouTube and Instagram have great full workouts or lifting explanations from creators, such as yours truly. You can check me out, @FaithLFit on Instagram or “Faith Leatherman” on YouTube, because hey, #ShamelessSelfPromotion. If you need help while at the gym, with form or any other questions, you can always ask a personal trainer! Most of the time they are happy to help.


Wear them. Having headphones on (on the ear are best) is the easiest way to say, “Don’t talk to me”. It shows that you are in the zone and can’t be bothered even if, “Your form is a little off, let me help you out.” No, not today homeboy. Blasting your favorite music will also help with the nerves, so turn up that Queen B, babe!

Bring a buddy.

Having a girl or guy friend to lift with can take off a lot of the pressure. This way you don’t have to enter the meathead zone on your own. It gives you someone to talk to and a spotter all in one. BOOM.

Avoid idle time.

You don’t want to be sitting around for too long in between sets anyways (unless you’re going super heavy) since you want to keep that heart rate up. Zoning out will not only get you off track, but will open up the opportunity for you to be approached. Sitting around on your phone will likely prompt, “What’s your number?” requests.

Wear clothing you are comfortable in.

If that is a baggy t-shirt and shorts, there ya go. If it’s a tank top and Lulu’s, there ya go. If it’s a sports bra and spandex, there ya go (but you might get kicked out of Planet Fitness LOL). Basically, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, as long as you personally are comfortable. Stressing about whether your leggings are see through during squats is not going to help you out. Worrying whether your nipples are pointing through your top because it’s cold AF, is also not going to do you any favors.

Find your comfort zone.

Another huge part that makes a difference with lifting in the “bro” section is the gym you’re at. Finding one where you feel comfortable can take away all that stress. I know college gyms are by far some of the most intimidating, but realizing that you have just as much right to be there and to be healthy is all you should need. Y’all are paying the same tuition and fees right? Yes! So you have just as much claim to the weights. If you are choosing a new gym, find one that fits you best. There are so many gyms where weights = guy zone isn’t true. YMCAs, certain 24-hour gyms, and Planet Fitness are all great options to consider. I switched from XSport to Anytime Fitness and the difference in my comfort level was HUGE.

Be confident.

Lastly, have confidence! You are here to better yourself and de-stress, so don’t let worrying about what others think get to you. Remember why you’re here and kill it.

I know taking the jump into the weightlifting section can be terrifying. Follow these this survival guide to make it a painless experience, and over time, it all gets easier. Eventually you’ll be the one thinking it’s a silly question. Trust me.

All readers are advised to consult their physician before beginning any exercise and nutrition program. BPI Sports and the contributors do not accept any responsibility for injury sustained as a result of following the advice or suggestions contained within the content.

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