If you’re intimidated by the gym’s free weight area, here are ways to undo this feeling and make ANY woman feel EMPOWERED by the free weights section!

If you’re a woman who’s “intimidated” about venturing into the gym’s free weight area, then as a certified personal trainer, I will declare that the free weight area of your health club will empower you.

It will add new dimension to any woman’s strength training program.

Free weights are nothing to be intimidated about, as they will add much variety and boredom-busting routines to your strength training workouts.

Besides, what’s so intimidating about seeing a bunch of hot guys? The free weight area is where you’ll find most of the hot men, ladies!

Of course, you’re not there to pick up dates; a woman goes to the gym to work out. Nevertheless, there are some points to consider when it comes to feeling intimidated about the free weight area.


Why is it that, collectively speaking, the best bodies are always in the free weight area?

Freepik.com, yanzlya

This is a leading cause of the intimidation factor, because for some women, it creates self-consciousness.

The most out-of-shape-looking people congregate in the cardio area, as well as the section with all the strength training machines. This phenomenon is prevalent at any health club.

There are several reasons why the hardbodies are disproportionately located in the free weights area, and why the “soft bodies” are usually anywhere but the free weights area.

No. 1. Many women who are self-conscious about their body, for whatever reason, tend to shy away from locations that have a lot of mirrors. Free weight areas are chockfull of mirrors.

No. 2. Women (and men) who are self-conscious about their bodies feel “intimidated” about being surrounded by a bunch of buff physiques.

They have a misconception that if they work out among people with “perfect bodies,” that they’ll be the center of attention, that the hardbodies will take to staring at them with judgment and scrutiny.

This is a complete myth. The opposite is true, in that a man or woman who has diligently sculpted their amazing body tends to have tunnel vision at the gym: They notice only THEIR OWN body!

No. 3. Women (and men) who lack muscle tone do not have much experience with strength training; furthermore, women (and men) with a lot of excess body fat typically lack experience with strength training.

And because of these factors, women (as well as men) are apt to believe that they’ll risk injury by handling free weights (dumbbells and barbells). If injury concerns you, start out with light dumbbells.

No. 4: Women who are not very serious about working out, and are only concerned about getting in a minimum quota as far as gym time, may be content using just the cardio equipment, and sometimes the strength training machines.

The mindset might be one of “Why bother with dumbbells and barbells when there is all this strength training equipment?”

No. 5. Some women who are obese, or even medium weight but in poor physical condition, believe that using dumbbells and barbells requires special training, and/or a pre-existing fit body.

No. 6. A woman who does not take gym workouts seriously would rather be where the TVs are, and the free weight area rarely has TVs.

Many of the buff bodies in the free weight area will gravitate over to the strength training machines for some exercises. Both machines and free weights have their virtues.


The mirrors can be very motivating. You may not want to be reminded of excess fat or flabby arms, but the mirrors can be used to gauge progress in muscle tone and inches lost.

Also, mirrors can keep you in check about proper strength training technique. This is very important.

However, if you wish to avoid mirrors, you actually can in the free weight area. Though that’s where most of the mirrors are in some clubs, not all of the free weight section has mirrors.

There are almost no TVs in free weight sections. Thus, distraction is minimized, and you’ll complete your workout in less time.

You can more fully concentrate on your workout and technique, rather than on nobodies like Nicole Richie, Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan.

Being around a greater number of lean, toned bodies can actually be a motivator.

Using dumbbells and barbells has an assortment of advantages, such as recruiting more muscles than strength training equipment, for a given muscle-targeting routine.

Dumbbells and barbells will add an invaluable component to your strength training and fitness program.

Next time you go to the gym, make sure to make an extended stop in the free weights section.

You need not work out smack in the middle of the section where most of the people are. You can do some dumbbell and even barbell routines in a quiet corner.

Or, you can visit the gym when the free weight area isn’t so crowded, if your schedule permits. Make a point of at least spending 15 minutes of every weight workout in the free weight section.

Say to yourself, “I will NOT be intimidated by the free weights area!” There are more intimidating things in life, right? How about the intimidation of opening your bills?

Think of the things in life that are truly intimidating while you stand inside your gym feeling reluctant to enter the free weights area. This way, going into the free weights area won’t seem so daunting.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.