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EPISODE 36 Getting the confidence to go to the gym!

By August 10, 2017January 31st, 2022Free Videos

Getting into the gym can be DAUNTING!  In this Thursday Therapy Glenn teams up with trainer from The Biggest Loser: Transformed Libby Babet to answer a great question about getting the confidence and motivation to go to the gym.  Lib and Glenn put their heads together to give you 8 ways to find exercise that is right for you, overcome fear of going to the gym, and develop a “movement culture” where moving your body is a fun part of every day!

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  • Client question about getting motivated to go to the gym after negative experiences. [1:49]
  • Finding the best gym for YOU. [3:33]
  • How to overcome nervousness [4:54]
  • How to overcome worries about other people’s opinions. [6:02]
  • Libby talks about her nervousness when going to new gyms. [9:33]
  • How nervousness and excitement depend on your interpretation. [10:21]
  • On creating a plan to get to the gym. [11:56]
  • Libby’s tip: “Podcast Walks”. [13:23]
  • Create a plan for the gym and finding your “safe space”. [15:49]
  • On PTs and Group Training. [17:52]
  • How to get workout ideas when you’re ready. [19:38]
  • Libby’s 10/10 workout tip. [20:08]
  • How to fan the fire of gym motivation. [20:59]
  • Parting thoughts on creating gym motivation. [23:35]


Hey everyone, I’m Glenn Mackintosh, the weight psych, and today a very special guest and I are going to answer your questions on feeling confident enough to go to the gym. Welcome to Thursday Therapy where I answer your questions on the psychology of eating, movement, weight and body image every two weeks. Today’s question comes from Shay. Shay asks, “How do I get motivated to go to the gym? When I go, I feel judged for my size. Not so much from staff but other gym users. And I’m not confident in what to do when I get there.” Shay, this is a really good question. I see so many people in this space, it might be that you had negative experiences with physical education as a kid, it might be that you had a bad experience with a gym or a PT, it could be that you just have never been into the gym or haven’t been for a long time, so this is a really good one and you know what guys, first things first, there are plenty of ways to move your body, so we don’t want to make anyone feel like you have to go to a gym in order to be a fit, healthy person, you can do that without ever stepping into a gym but a lot of people do want to go there because of course it is a place that is designed to help you get fitter, stronger and healthier. So, if that’s you, this can help you to get in there or if you really think, you know what, this is just not for me, you might be able to apply these principles to doing something that will work for you like a yoga class or an aqua aerobics group or learning to dance or something like that. So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to give you my few favourite ideas on how to feel confident enough to get into the gym and then I’m going to refer you to probably the best person that I could ever refer you to, Libby Babet, who runs buff girl’s fitness, to help every girl become beautiful, unstoppable and fearless as well as the Agoga Gym in Sydney. The first thing that I want you to think about is finding a good gym for you. You know, for a lot of people stepping into any gym is going to be done and of course no place is going to be absolutely perfect but I think it’s really well worthwhile to take a bit of time to do the search and find a spot that’s going to really suit you. I can spend a whole session with someone researching the various gems and fitness facilities close to their home and work, searching the net, talking about them, even calling the places in session and I feel like that time really well spent if you find the right spot for you. You can save yourself a lot of time, a lot of energy and a lot of money and for most people if you sit down to do this, this will only take a few hours and you know what, I’m going to refer you also to the fit list TV which is another YouTube channel featuring my screen brother Heath Mackintosh, whose mission is to help everyone find their perfect fit. He’s showcasing some beautiful health and fitness facilities that can help open your mind up but that’s my first point is really have a look around, take the time, experiment with different places, do your research and it will pay off in the long term. The second thing I want you to do is to be brave even when you find the right place for you, the reality is you still have to step your foot through the door and if you’re a bit nervous, a bit uncertain or downright scared, that’s okay, these feelings are normal and that’s where courage happens, not when you’re not scared but when you kind of feel the fear and you do it anyway. When you’ve found somewhere that you’re comfortable with, don’t take some unpleasant feelings as automatic signs that this place is not right for you, be brave, have a bit of courage, get your foot in the door and try it. Often, motivation to do something comes from doing that thing and we get a sense of comfort in familiarity over time, so if you do step your foot in the door, you may find that it’s completely wrong for you but you’re fine anyway or you might find that the biggest worry was actually the fear of getting in and the movement is the easy part. The third thing that I want you to think about, and I know that this is not easy, is to try not to worry too much about other people’s opinions. Now, here’s a few ideas that might help you to do that, the first thing is I’ve got a background in Sport and Exercise psychology, so I know inside the mind of the body beautiful, the fitness freak, the absolute athlete and what I can tell you is that generally those people are so concerned about themselves, especially when they’re in the middle of their workout that you don’t even really factor in. I had one of my clients who was brave enough to actually go and ask a few people who she thought were looking at her while she was doing her gym session, she asked three different people and she was convinced after doing that, that none of them were looking at her. Now, obviously I don’t want to ignore the reality that weight bias, discrimination and stigma does exist, so I just want to give you some thoughts on people that may judge you for your weight, your shape, your size, your level of fitness, your age or anything else that you’re worried about. The first thing I want you to think about is that those opinions are just that, opinions. For a second I want you to think of someone really close to you, like a sibling or a parent and I want you to think, when you think about them, what are your first opinions and then I want you to think about someone that they know, like their best friend or their closest relative and think what would that person say about them, what’s their opinion and then I want you to think about that person I want you to think about what would a neighbour or a stranger say about that person, what would their opinion be and what you’ll probably find is that there’s a bit where it merges, a lot where it’s different, who is right, who is way off, everyone, no one, there just opinion. So, what I want you to try and do is leave other people’s opinions to being their business and you do you. So, guys enjoy having a play around with those ideas but I’ve got something really special for you I’ve been following Libby Babet ‘s work for a long time now and when we got to work together on The Biggest Loser transform, you could just see how she helped the contestants who weren’t so familiar with exercise or the gym, just grow to feel comfortable and eventually absolutely love movement, so she is the perfect trainer to help us with some further ideas about being confident to get into the gym, another Thursday Therapy referral where we refer out I’m going to whip up a little bit of magic and here we are with super trainer, my mate, Libby Babet. Libby, thank you for seeing us. It’s lovely to be here and that magic right into this couch – this is awesome, it’s pretty good, right? So, if you got some ideas for our guys, no pressure but I think you are the person to see, to help them get confident and going to the gym. You know what, I have got plenty of ideas for you guys, I can’t wait to get into them. You know what, I scared of gyms too – I’m just putting it out there, even a PT, whose been in this industry for so long now, I walk into a gym and I’m kind of scared. And I think it’s so good for our guys to hear that, that the super trainer walked into a new gym because Libby, you had an experience recently, we had to go to a gym, yeah but we were actually traveling to the Biggest Loser transport and I was in a hotel, you know, down in here in Perth, over in Perth and I went to a new gym because obviously I wasn’t home and I went to this gym, I walk in and I’ve kind of started getting heart palpitations straight away, you know it’s a new environment, it’s heaps of people I don’t know there, some of them really muscly, some of them look really sexy, a lot of the equipment is taken up, and I went in with a plan but when I got there, that kind of went out the window and I going to be nervous. And I think that’s really good for people to know that, if Libby gets nervous, I talked about this before with our guys that is really normal to be a little bit fearful and that’s totally, like you invited me to Agoga this morning, had a great time but I was freaking out, you know, beforehand of like one where my list of excuses, I worried myself. That’s the thing but like it’s actually fine to be a little bit fearful because that, that feeling of being a bit nervous and it kind of verges on excitement a little bit but there is that fear element, that’s how you know you’re living, right? And if you never had that, you’re kind of like, hmm. You know, like from a psychological point of view, we know that the difference between fear and excitement is all the same thing happens in your body, like, you know, the heart palpitations, sweaty palms, it’s just a lot of it is in how you interpret it, yeah, it’s definitely is and that’s exactly what happened to me when I went into this gym in Perth, you know I walk in, I was nervous, there’s people everywhere and then I thought to myself, okay what’s going to happen if I don’t do this session that I’ve come prepared to do, how will I feel when I walk out I haven’t done it and the bottom line was I would kind of feel a bit disappointed that I hadn’t got my endorphin rush,  so I thought you know I’m going to do it, I’m going to turn this fear into excitement and I had a great session, one guy that was next to me that was super muscly, I had a chat to him because I’m a bit nervous, I said, hey how you doing, I’m Libby. We ended up best mates, we had a challenge at the end, and so once you kind of just get in there, you know, doing cures the fear doesn’t it. Do it and the fear disappears. So, let me ask you this then, because obviously you know if a fear is too high and this is going to be too big a barrier, what do you suggest to people who might not have been to the gym ever or might not have been in ages to help ease themselves into it. Definitely, I mean the world case situation is you haven’t ever been to the gym and then you walk without a plan and you’re freaked out and that’s just fear, upon fear, upon fear, so the thing to do is actually prepare yourself a little bit before you go in by starting with getting used to moving your body, so I talked a lot about not worrying about doing the exercise, think about creating a movement culture for yourself, so I am the kind of person that has a movement culture, that means I have to move my body every single day but it doesn’t mean I have to do exercise, it could be over the gym, it could be going for a walk, it could be I buy a $2.00 skipping rope from the Heart Foundation, I do 10 minutes skipping a day. Do something to prepare yourself and get your body used to it, and you know what I’ve got to say that I actually, I thought when I was coming down here that I would get the invite to Agoga and people think I think they think I’m pretty fit but I’m actually not that fit. He was pretty fit. Well I kind of cheated because I followed this principle that you’re talking about, I got myself a gym membership in Brisbane and I’ve been gone to the gym for like six weeks. I love that and that’s really important and you know it can be going to the gym that  you’re comfortable in to prepare or it could be something like what I actually do which I really love and I know I’ve tried to get you to do this before is to do what I call podcast walks because walking for me, I love it, but someone has to be boring if you don’t have someone there to go with I mean walking with someone you love is incredible because it’s a great way to connect, see a girlfriend, you know spend time with your partner, your kids but if you buy yourself some time it’s a bit boring, so if you’ve got a phone check out the podcast app. The podcast app is it’s like purple and white kind of looks like a satellite dish thing, we’ll put it up here. But check it out and all you have to do is go in there and people it’s like this incredible resource where experts and people tell stories, explore topics in an audio sense, so you can go ahead and search nutrition, for example, and all different nutrition is from around the world or people talking about nutrition  will have been places where they’ve talked by the 10, 20 or 30 minutes about the topic and you can download one, put it in ears and walk for the length of it, so I love to like look for a new podcast series with ten episodes and I make myself a little deals in the fortnight, I’m going to listen to all ten while I go for a walk, yeah very good. That’s so cool because from a psychology point of view motivation is just it’s just a bunch of positive thoughts and you like I remember you saying this to me before to actually listen to stuff around health, around Fitness because even if you’re not yet in the gym it’s sort of changing your mind-set mentally preparing it. One hundred percent! There are some really cool people like look for people have done great things, you know people who program and how they prepared and a lot of them start from never doing anything, so you can listen to their journey and you walk and start yours and I think that’s really cool. Yeah and you can take that as inspiration like the workout we did today at Agoga, it was this guy who had climbed Everest all these times and you sort of you can take that it like well I’m never going to be able to do that because it’s like I can channel a little bit of that energy. Yeah, exactly and bring it in and that is the cool thing because you’re, as you say you visualize something you start getting interested in it, you develop a curiosity around it and then before you know it you’re doing it, so podcasts are incredible and plus humans learn from stories we love story we’ve been telling them since you know great, great ancestors, so it’s really nice to listen to stories as you walk. Very cool. So, Lib, we’ve motivated ourselves, we’re facing the fear, seeing it as excitement, we’re in the gym, now what? Good question. Now what, it’s really important to go with a plan, I should say that because even for me I get in there I don’t have a plan, I’ve spent half my session mucking around and that’s frustrating. So, look, step one, if you’ve never been into the gym and you really nervous going in there and everyone looks a bit scary then you know one of the things that can be really good is just find a place where you can feel like you are kind of cocooned a little bit you know you’re knowing everyone’s road and for me that always starts the cardio machines. So, it doesn’t mean you have to go crazy, but pick a cardio machine, it can be a bike, can be a rower, can be a runner, can be a step machine, if you really you know want to work hard but choose one of those and just decide to stay on it for 20 minutes, don’t go anywhere else. So, why cardio? The thing is, the weights floor could be a little bit intimidating. So, it’s not that cardio works better, it’s that you can get on a piece of equipment and it is yours for as long as you want it to be and I think that would really important mental barrier for people to cross is, I’m in the gym and I’m doing it and I’ve got my space and no one’s going to intrude on it and that’s a safe place to stay. Like your own little safe cocoon. I mean better yet if you can actually have a PT because that will create a cocoon for you and teach you how to do stuff at the same time but that might not be step one. Step one might be get in, choose a machine and jump on it and you know just walk for 20 minutes, listen to a podcast while you’re walking for 20 minutes, listen to some music or jump on a bike or whatever and then you’ve done it. Just kind of get in your own little zone. Your own little cocoon, you know and once you become comfortable cycling or walking or whatever for 20 minutes then maybe next time you’re going you can start slow jogging for a minute and walking for a minute, interval training which is incredibly effective and you know it will get you really great results, so they’re some good places to start. Step one, but you want to know step two? Look as we’ve said, either step 1 or step 2 it could be a PT, PT’s are absolutely invaluable, but maybe that’s not an option for you. I know they’re expensive and you know that’s cool, so what I really love and you loved it today at Agoga is group training. It was really good. It’s really good fun and every gym has some kind of group training element and the reason that’s so great is because one of the big fears I think walking into the gym is, Oh, god, everyone’s looking at me, you know and you go to a group class and everyone is looking at the instructor, you know. Yeah, your instructor, I know they call him and all your instructors are enter trainers, it is kind of like that you’re just along for the ride, watching the show and moving your body at the same time. And a lot of group instructors are like that, they’re there to put on a show for you and give you a great experience and all eyes on them, not looking around everyone else, so group training is a really great way to step beyond what it feels too safe,  and into a space where I’m ready to grow but I need help and guidance to do it and if you’re not ready for a PT then group instructors are just such a great way, you know you’ve got strength classes, cardio classes, you’ll start to learn some moves, start to learn some ideas, some timings and you can do it at your own pace and it’s flexible. So, I love group training and whether you do it in a big gym or some cool petite gyms where you get to know everyone and get some friends too, but yeah, group training’s number two. So, it’s kind of like get your safe space, whether that’s just going by yourself and avoiding the big, strong, fit, young, body beautiful for the moment, which a lot of them are actually, probably great people or if you need to, just find a good PT or group and get that support of that little circle. Definitely and you know that’s step one and step two and then once you go beyond that, you’re like, you know what, I’m really getting confident now in the gym and I know some of the moves and some of the timings I can use, then you can start to prepare your own program, so there are lots of cool apps and online resources now, we’ve got our and obviously at Buff but there’s lots of other places you can go to get cool workout ideas, free as well or a proper program that’s structured and then you can take a little piece of paper in and experience the weights for yourself and you know that is when you know you’ve really become confident in the gym space but I’ve got a little trick you can do if you don’t want to go online, it freaks you out and you just want something simple. This is why my ten out of ten trick, so, once you know a few moves for example squats and push ups, so let’s start there. You do my ten to one, so you do ten squats and ten push ups, then nine squats, nine push ups then eight and eight, seven and seven, six and six all the way down to one and one and you’re done. So, it’s just that two moves and then you’ve done a ten out of ten workout. Now you can do that for a bunch of different exercise you could do squats to push ups and then you could do high knee runs on the spot to skipping and you can just keep going and that’s your own workout that you’ve created, you can use any equipment for it or do it right here in the lounge room. It’s so funny you know Libby what you’re talking about from a psychologist perspective is what we call systematic desensitization. It’s the way that we reduce anxiety and build confidence, you know starting small, going a little bit you know you’ve got to go that little bit outside your comfort zone and then that’s kind of you become familiar with it and comfortable and then just going out as far as you want to go. And you know, there’s a really cool little analogy that I actually use to talk about this which I call, you know, I talk about a fire, you know, everyone I think when they’re starting work outs, they talk about they want the motivation, they want the fire, you know that burning fire inside them that says, get out and go to the gym, I’m this healthy, fit person. That’s the fire that everyone wants right, I mean everyone’s experienced that. And people go you know, but I don’t have that, so you know but here’s the magic way to think about it is that how do you get a fire? I mean you can’t just go snap, like you did with your little bit of magic and have a fire appear out of nowhere. You have to build it, you create the fire and you can’t have that motivation without taking the steps to get it, like motivation comes from action, not just appearing magical. So, I always talk about you know then people go, okay, well my steps in building the fire, I’ve got a goal which is I want to lose 20 kilos but that’s a big log to put on the fire, you can’t start a fire with a big log because it won’t actually catch because it’s too overwhelming for the fire to take hold of. Start with the kindling. So, start with the twigs and the paper and you know that might be your podcast walks or just a little you know 10 minutes skipping at home or playing with the kids every day and movement culture, that the kindling and then getting to the gym, that’s that log, that’s the case I’m ready for something bigger, I’m at the gym every day and then all of a sudden you have done those things, you get used to it,  you start loving it and then the fire is burning and you suddenly are someone that loves to move. Couldn’t agree more. So, Libby thank you so much for those ideas, and we will have to stop ourselves because we can talk about this stuff all day. We’re actually two talkers, it’s not a good combo, it is, but it’s not. So, we will shut up for you guys but before we do, guys I want to give you the details of Libby’s newsletter because I really want you to sign up for that. Libby, you know in our programs it’s all about principals and people end up eating a lot better they end up moving more but then there’s always this question okay what exactly do I do and that’s why it’s so important for us to meet with you and bring things to that next step. Yes, definitely and you know this kind of journey to health and fitness, it is really something you have to stay curious about but it is important to have a have a some help with you know planning it to start with. So, you know the beauty of our programs is like you guys we believe in not necessarily having rules, but creating some standards for yourself, creating and principles for yourself to operate by but we provide really cool daily workouts that are options for you guys to do so you have something to do, you know what to do and food ideas and principles too so most certainly there’s nutrition guidance and workout guidance. Libby, you stole my question because whenever I sort of and I do this in my practice, whenever someone’s doing like an eight-week program or a gym workout I always check with the trainers, I’m like so can we do this in a flexible way, can we you know you have to take the meal plans as a prescription that you have to do exactly or is it just ideas, can you tone down the exercise and you just answered all of those questions. Yeah well I think it’s really important you know a program is six weeks right and every week you have a food idea that you’re learning about and you practice that as you learn about it but you don’t have to eat exactly x, y and z because let’s be honest, nobody’s going to do that, like if I try and eat exactly 1200 calories a day I will fail every time like it’s just too hard to count every meal, it’s just I don’t know, it’s not real life, it’s always flexible but always guided. So, guys you heard it straight from the buff girl’s mouth, if and when you do one of the buff girl’s online programs or you read Libby’s new book, which will be out soon, then you have permission to do it in a way that is right for you. So, guys we’re going to provide the link to your website T hank you that was an absolute pleasure and thank you for having me guys, it was so nice to digitally meet you and guys, of course if you haven’t already, sign up, subscribe for Thursday Therapy and we will see you in a couple of weeks, until then, you know what actually, Lib I just thought of, you have some free workouts. Yeah, totally, we do, actually if you are on and you scroll towards the bottom of the page you can see there are ten free workouts there that you can pick up and take with you, so when you are ready at the gym floor all you have to do is take those with you and you’ve got some ideas what to do. Enjoy your movement until next Thursday Therapy. Have fun.