I work part time in a busy gym and I teach fitness classes, and I’m an introvert. I understand how draining being in that kind of environment can be for introverts. This gets to be more difficult in the winter when introverts may need to trade their outdoor activities like running, walking or cycling for indoor training.

What is an introvert?

When I was much younger someone once called me an introvert, like it was an insult. I spent a long time after that trying to not be an introvert. Eventually I found the meaning of introvert and realized that I was most definitely an introvert and that this was not a bad thing.

So what is an introvert? An introvert is someone who gains energy by spending time alone. An extrovert gains energy by being with people. If you gravitate to quite nights at home reading a book you are probably an introvert. Or if you need time to decompress and be alone after going to a party or even the mall, you are probably an introvert. You may enjoy going to parties and spending time with other people, but you need your time to recharge afterwards.

Why does this matter for fitness?

Introverts may find that things like going to the gym or fitness classes to be very draining. Working out should give you energy, but if the atmosphere is draining you may find that working out is draining for you.

What are gym and fitness class alternatives?

For many introverts exercising in a gym is not something they want to be doing during down time. Gyms can be noisy and stimulating and draining for most introverts.

Fitness classes are also quite stimulating, usually have loud music. Introverts who find social situations difficult usually feel self conscious in a fitness class. And then there is the need to make small talk with other participants which introverts may find difficult.

With a little creativity you can work out at home for a lot less than going to the gym. You can purchase some weights, resistance bands, or use body weight for exercise. If you are unfamiliar with strength training you may want to hire a personal trainer to make sure you have good form and have a program that will meet your goals.

Many introverts seem to be drawn to solitary activities like running, walking or cycling. I live in a northern climate and I am able to run the entire year. You do need to watch for icy sidewalks and roads. Purchasing a treadmill can be expensive, but compared to a gym membership it is actually not bad. I usually watch TV or listen to podcasts while on the treadmill to make it less boring.

If you like cycling, but the thought of a spin class doesn’t appeal to you for winter workouts, then a bicycle trainer might be a good option for winter. You can even hook up a smart trainer to a computer app like Zwift and ride indoors in exotic and imaginary locations, which keeps you from getting bored.

Maybe a gym or fitness class is your best option

It could be that when you weigh the options, you decide that going to the gym or doing a fitness class is your best option for staying fit. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your gym membership:

Choose your gym wisely. Get a tour of the gym before you sign up. What is the clientele like? What are the noise and levels like? You may find that a smaller quieter gym fits your needs, but you make also find that a larger facility has a more diverse clientele that will make you feel like you can lose yourself in the crowd, rather than be the focus. Does the gym push personal training? If you are not planning on hiring a personal trainer, then the constant push by trainers trying to sell to you can be annoying.

What about the classes offered? Can you get a one week trial to try out the classes and see how comfortable you feel in them.

Get some help when you start. Many gyms offer a free session to get you familiar with things. Or you can hire a personal trainer for a few sessions. This will help you feel less intimidated and make sure that you have a plan to follow.

Use noise cancelling headphones. When the gym is noisy, even earbuds can block out some of the noise. It also keeps people from wanting to chat with you, if all you want to do is focus on your workout.

Choose a quiet time. Try going a few times and picking the times that suit you best. But keep in mind that quiet times are also quiet for the staff and they may decide you need to be “helped”.

Plan some down time when you are done. If possible plan on at least a few minutes of alone time when you are finished.

Whichever way you decide to workout, at home or in a gym, setting realistic action based goals is the best way to achieve your overall fitness goals. Rather than say you want to lose 20 lbs say you will do your workout 3 times a week for the next 4 weeks and then reward yourself when you do.

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