Self-Conscious in the Gym? Lessons from a Wedding Dance.

Before our wedding my (then) fiancee (now wife!) and I took dancing lessons. Not unusual for a newly engaged couple looking to wow their friends and family on the wedding night.

But the problem was, Ash used to be a competitive ballroom dancer. Needless to say, my moves weren’t quite so polished!

So what does this have to do with feeling self conscious in the gym?

Well, when you enter a gym (or any new environment for that matter) for the first time, you’re out of your comfort zone. And the problem is, it’s sometimes hard for everyone else at that gym (the staff and the clients) to empathise, because for them, it’s their second home. So there you are, all alone, in an environment that is familiar to everyone else but completely new and scary to you.

You feel like the outsider. You feel like all eyes are on you. You feel like you’re being judged.

I understand, because in the middle of that polished dance floor, I felt the same.

And I’m glad I felt this way.

I’m glad I did, because it helped me empathise with the new people I meet every day. The people who know they SHOULD be building healthy habits, but struggle to get past that initial feeling of self consciousness and intimidation.

Here’s what I learned. And maybe it can help you next time you’re feel self conscious and out of your comfort zone…

  1. We feel self conscious when we’re at the limits of our comfort zone. Pushing at the limits is the only way to make our comfort zone bigger.
  2. You’re not starting from zero. Even if your only dance experience is doing the Nutbush at every wedding there ever was, you’ve still got dance experience. Even if the only exercise experience you’ve got is walking from the front door of your house to the car, you’ve still got exercise experience.
  3. If you can find a good tribe of people, they’re not there to judge you. In fact, they’ll lift you up and support you. They’re there to help.
  4. Everyone was once where you are. They ‘get it’. A year from now, remember how you felt, and use that memory to make someone else’s journey easier. Pay it forward.
  5. There are environments where you feel at home. Maybe at work, or around your friends. When new people enter those circles how do you feel towards them? I bet you’re not judging them. I bet you go out of your way to make them feel included and welcome them with open arms. This is exactly how people will feel about you when you’re the one entering a new world.
  6. I bet almost every achievement in your life began with feelings of uncertainty, trepidation and self consciousness. And look how they turned out. This new challenge may be the start of something beautiful.

So how did our first dance go? We nailed it! And as Ash watches our wedding video (for the 9000th time) I know that the initial push to the limits of my comfort zone was worth any initial uncertainty, a million times over.

Dan Williams

Dan Williams


Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology. He has worked with many thousands of individuals along the full spectrum of health, and has coached at The CrossFit Games. He regularly presents to corporate and fitness industry groups and mentors Fitness Professionals.