Intimidated by Strength Training? Here's How I Got Over My Fear of the Weight Room

On January 1, 2022, my New Year's resolution was to get over my fear of the weight room and graduate from cardio bunny to gym rat. Two years later, these are the essentials I consistently use.

By Jenny Lee Jan 11, 2024 11:00 AMTags
Shop Gym Weightlifting EssentialsE! News Illustration / Photos Courtesy of Amazon, Converse, Hoka, Hydro Flask

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January 1, 2022. Like countless others, I decided that my main New Year's resolution was to prioritize my fitness and physical wellbeing. Specifically, I set the intention that this would be the year that I get over my fear of the weight room. Over the years, I had developed an on/off relationship with the gym, and at the time of my resolution-setting, I had been doing HIIT workouts at home with the occasional run on the treadmill at the gym if I was feeling adventurous. However, I wanted to try something different, and I wanted to incorporate more targeted routines that would help me become stronger & feel more confident in my body. I was ready to enter my gym rat era.

Two years later, the weight room has become my favorite place. Rather than dreading a trip to the gym, I look forward to it all day. From the community to the sense of accomplishment you get from seeing & feeling your progress, lifting and strength training have become integral parts of my life. It's taken a lot of trial & error to find the essentials that work for me, from the best wrist straps & shaker bottles to leggings & more; nonetheless, I'd say I've successfully conquered my fear of the weight room. While I still have a long way to go on my fitness journey and I'm by no means a training expert, I'm here today to share my experience & love for the gym with you, bestie, because 2024 is the year that we're thriving & accomplishing our goals.

If you're thinking of venturing into the wonderful world of lifting and strength training, check out these essential picks that have helped me stay consistent in the gym for the past couple years.

Versa Gripps® Pro Wrist Straps for Weightlifting

A few months after I started lifting, I was moving up to weights where my grip would give out before my target muscle group would, and I wasn't able to make the most out of each set. My cousin, who used to compete in bodybuilding competitions, gifted me this set of wrist straps, and I've been using them regularly since. They're super comfortable, don't slip even with sweaty hands, and are a great investment for strength training, especially if you like performing free weight exercises.

One Amazon shopper called these the "best wrist straps," writing, "I've been lifting for about 10 years now and I've gone through many wrist straps and these are far superior than any other brand. These are comfortable, easy to put on & take off and give a lot of support and grip strength. These are worth every penny & will allow you to max out any lift with ease. ORDER IT!!!!"

Gymreapers Ankle Straps - Pack of 2

I love finishig every leg day with cable kickbacks, and these ankle straps have held up against the test of time. They're easy to put on, and the cushiony material is both supportive and durable. Plus, the double D-ring design is perfect for attaching to cable machines while evenly distributing resistance.

According to one Amazon shopper, "These ankle cuffs are perfect for a variety of leg cable movements. They're easy to take on and off, are comfortable, and take up limited space in your gym bag. The Velcro makes them easy to put on and take off quickly. There are 2 cable rings on each cuff that allows for a good amount of weight and balances them out for smooth movements. I've had several of my clients purchase them as well for their exercise programming."

ProFitness Barbell Pad Squat Pad

If cable kickbacks are what I finish leg day with, hip thrusts are what I always start with. This barbell pad was actually the first purchase I made when I decided to start lifting, and it's been an essential in my gym bag ever since. I love how it easily slips onto the barbell but stays securely in place once it's on, and it's super supportive even when you go heavy on the weights.

One shopper wrote, "After using a variety of barbell pads over the years, this one is by far the best. I mainly use it for hip thrusts, and this thick, well-built foam pad makes lifting 300lb+ extremely comfortable on your hip bones. It fits snugly on a standard Olympic bar even without the straps so you're not messing with it during your workout, but is not difficult to put on or remove. Very comfortable for squats as well if you like the extra support there. It's an excellent product on its own, but their customer service really makes it top tier - they have a lifetime replacement warranty that they actually follow through on. After about two years of heavy use, a portion of the padding on my first pad had gotten thin, so I reached out to ProFitness's customer service. They sent me a replacement right away at no cost to me, and it was an extremely quick and pleasant experience. This is the best barbell pad & the only one you'll ever need with the lifetime warranty!!"

HELIMIX 2.0 Vortex Blender Shaker Bottle

My older brother's a big gym rat, and while I might bicker with him all the time, I trust his opinion when it comes to fitness. When I saw that he had purchased this shaker bottle with 21,500+ five-star Amazon reviews, I immediately followed suit. I love that it doesn't require a shaker ball or whisk — the genius vortex blender design seamlessly mixes powders without clumping, and it's super easy to clean as well.

One Amazon shopper explained, "I hate the agitators and mixing balls used in traditional shaker bottles. They're always annoying to clean or my husband ends up losing pieces. I was very excited to come across these when looking for new shakers, but I was skeptical. I watched a bunch of video reviews to see how effective the mixing was, because there's nothing worse than a clump of dry protein in your shake, and these are LEGIT. We've been using them for about a week now with different proteins, BCAAs and preworkout and all mix perfectly! The cups feel light but sturdy and there's no leakage either. Highly recommend!"

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star

Before I first stepped into the weight room, I spent hours browsing the vast interweb for what kind of shoes I should be wearing. I didn't want to splurge on expensive weightlifting shoes as a beginner lifter, but I also didn't want to sacrifice quality. These Chuck Taylor All Stars are internet gym community-approved, from the flat sole that helps stabilize your balance to the high top that provides ankle support. I'm currently on my second pair since I started lifting, and I don't plan on switching things up any time soon because these shoes get the job done (without breaking the bank).

One Converse shopper wrote, "Bought them for my finance to workout in and she loves. More comfortable  helps keeps her ankle stable since they're high rise and flat. She able to do squats a lot more comfortably."

Hoka Bondi 8

On the other hand, I did decide to splurge & treat myself to these Hoka Bondi 8 shoes for my cardio (a.k.a walking on the treadmill while jamming out to my favorite tunes), and I have absolutely no regrets. Not only are they super cute & trendy, they're also unbelievably supportive, and it feels like I'm walking on clouds whenever I slip these on — which helps motivate me to get on the treadmill without fearing angry blisters or sore feet.

lululemon Align™ High-Rise Pant 28-inch

Throughout the years (and especially since I started lifting regularly), I've amassed quite the collection of leggings. Seriously, like 80% of my wardrobe is workout clothes. My absolute favorite pair out of them all? These Align™ high-rise leggings from lululemon; they're ultra-breathable, flexible & flattering, and they don't roll over while squatting or running.

Hanes Women's Crew Socks - Pack of 10

These Hanes crew socks are the only ones I wear for the gym, and I've purchased them three times (as an excuse to procrastinate on laundry day, not because they've worn down). They look super cute pulled over your leggings or worn with shorts, and they have 32,600+ five-star reviews on Amazon.

One shopper wrote, "The socks fit perfectly, not too tight and they do not stretch out when you try to put them on. They are warm and soft and really, the only socks that I want to wear anymore. I washed them with whites and they came out of the dryer just as bright as the day they arrived. I am thinking of buying another package of them while they are still available because I haven't found socks this comfortable in quite a while."

"I purchased this item in Aug. 2015. I'm about to order another 10-pack today. Are they the best of the best insofar as socks go? Heck no. But they average a buck a pair and these socks, which I wear at least five days a week for a gym workout or traipsing around the hills of San Francisco, lasted - on average - about four years before holes started to appear. Again - a buck a pair, people. Very happy with this purchase considering the cost / use ratio. See you back here in 2025 for my next review - cheers!"

The Best Workout Sets for the Gym, Pilates, Yoga, and More

Hydro Flask 40 oz Wide Mouth with Flex Straw Cap

Hydration is so important, especially when you're getting in a good sweat sesh at the gym. I've been using the same Hydro Flask for nine years, and it's still keeping my water ice cold for hours on end. This chic Oat edition is currently on sale for 30% off!

According to one Hydro Flask shopper, "This is likely one of the best water bottles I've owned, from its sleek design and build to its great feel in the hand. Most importantly, this keeps ice water cold. It's pretty easy to disassemble for cleaning. This is a work horse…and stands up to getting tossed about."

Beats Studio3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones

If there's one thing I refuse to go to the gym without, it's my Beats headphones. As someone whose main fear of the gym was the (false) idea that everyone would be staring & judging me, these noise-cancelling headphones have helped me immensely to get in the zone and focus on my workout (all while listening to my fave playlist).

One Amazon shopper raved, "I have several kinds of headphones. All of them claim to be the best. But the Beats are very nice for I wear them in the gym and when I am cutting grass. They sound very good and clear. Battery life is very long and recharge time is very short. I do sweat a lot with them on while working out in the heat or gym but you can just wipe of the moisture on them and carry on. I have over 100 hours on them and I would purchase them again. Highly recommend them."

WC SweatZ Protective Earpad Covers

To help protect my Beats from accumulating smelly sweat over time, I always make sure to outfit them with these protective earpad covers. These are honestly one of the best purchases I've made on Amazon, and I love them so much I wrote a full detailed review of them here.

"At first when I saw this product, I was a little bit skeptical if it would protect my beats headphones from my sweat when I work out because I do sweat a lot. Also, I thought the price was a bit high but after using it for two weeks I feel like it's well worth it because my beats are not only protected but after I worked out, I can remove the cover and it is completely dry, this gives me a peace of mind knowing that the leather cushions won't wear down, and my beats won't get any damage from sweat getting into the speakers. I highly recommend if you are someone like me who wants to use your headphones for the gym or during your workout, but doesn't to wear them down. The product is well worth it. Very satisfied and I highly recommend!"

adidas Alliance II Sack Pack

I try to take as little as I can to the gym, especially when it's super crowded and I just want to get in & out as efficiently as possible. This adidas drawstring bag with 23,600+ five-star reviews on Amazon has been perfect for my needs. It's compact yet roomy enough to comfortably hold all my essentials, and it's available in a wide range of colors/designs.

According to one Amazon shopper, "This is a well made and sturdy string bag. I use my only for the gym and carry the equal gym towel, change of shirt, weight belt, gym journal, own, keys, headphones, sanitizer. There is far more room than I use it for. The material is seemingly water resistant and has a reinforced bottom. This will be great for the water park, lake, Disneyland or theme park. This will also make a great personal 8tem for flying and if you used a medium packing cube you can get a great amount of clothing in this. For sure I would recommend this bag."

Etronik Gym Bag

On days where I need more room to store my stuff (e.g., days where I choose to shower at the gym before heading home), this stylish gym bag is just what I need. It has a large storage capacity, including a shoe compartment with vents, multiple pockets for smaller items, and a side pocket for your water bottle. Plus, it even comes with a matching toiletry bag!

One Amazon shopper called this the "perfect gym/travel/overnight bag." They added, "I absolutely love this bag! It is the perfect size to fit everything you need for the gym like an outfit, towel, water bottle, shower supplies. I love how it comes with 2 bags to place your shoes in and a separate compartment on the bottom that doesn't take away from the space inside! I also love how it came with a small accessory bag perfect to put travel sized products and the best part is you can connect a charging block inside the bag and charge your phone by connect a charging cable to the outside! This is perfect for a gym bag, overnight bag, or to even travel with! It could also be packed with a days worth of clothes, shower supplies and other necessities and kept in the car incase of emergency where you can't make it home or are leaving for other reasons. I recommend this bag. It's super durable and great quality!"

Hanes Men's Full-Zip EcoSmart Hoodie

I love keeping this Hanes hoodie in my car when I'm heading to the gym on colder days. Not only is it affordable, it has 91,100+ five-star reviews, is available in 11 cute colors, and is super cozy to boot. The zip-up design is also great because I can easily take it on or off while keeping my headphones on.

One Amazon shopper raved, "Great price & quality for the hoodie. I have bought a 2nd one as a gift to add to my son's gym bag. Also, it fit correctly as It had standard U.S. sizing. The color is a vibrant black and did not wash out as it was laundered a few times on an earlier hoodie purchase for my husband.. It is comfy and just right for going to the gym, home or school. I have always liked Hanes products."

Old Spice Aluminum Free Deodorant

As someone who sweats a lot while exercising & doesn't want to stink, I searched the internet high and low for deodorants that actually work. To my surprise, I came across multiple women online who raved about using Old Spice men's deodorant, specifically this Wolfthorn edition, which has pleasant, fruity notes that aren't overbearing. I immediately followed suit, and this deodorant has become my go-to deodorant on the daily, both on gym & rest days.

According to one Amazon shopper, "These Old Spice deodorants were a great value buy that will last for some time. The scent is not overly strong but is a nice subtle scent that lasts throughout the day. I never find myself sweating through the scent even after a long day at work and the gym. Great recommend for a big name product! Cheaper here than in store."

Wunderbrow Waterproof Eyebrow Gel

As much as I would love to wear makeup in the gym, I tend to sweat up a storm while exercising, so by the time I'm finished with my workout, all the product that was on my face is now on my clothes & towel. This waterproof eyebrow gel with 28,600+ five-star reviews on Amazon has been a holy grail for me, and it keeps my eyebrows looking fresh no matter how sweaty I get. Check out my full ode to the product here (it's that good).

According to one Amazon shopper, "I really like this stuff. To test it out, I applied it with my own little angled brush (I dabbed the brush into the Wunderbrow applicator) then put it on and in a few minutes I was ready to go to the gym. It made it through a tough workout, two showers and even a night of sleep. It's still perfectly on my face. I would definitely recommend."

Leader Accessories Black Waterproof Sweat Towel Seat Cover

Finally, this waterproof car seat towel cover is an absolute must-have for me, whether I'm driving home post-workout in sweaty gym clothes or with wet hair after taking a shower. It features an anti-slip backing and is super easy to slip on over your car — check out a full detailed review of just what makes this car seat hoodie so great here!

According to one Amazon shopper, this towel cover is "so much better than a beach towel." They wrote, "OK, I know what you're thinking. Why spend $20+ on a seat cover when I can just use an old towel. This is so much better than a towel. First of all, because of the headrest pocket, it is super easy to install. I just slip it into place when I exit the gym. Second, it covers the entire seat and here is the most important part, it doesn't slip. WIth a beach towel, you have to be careful how you sit because the towel can slip and you find yourself sitting on part of the seat. This is not the case with this seat cover. It stays put even when I swivel myself out of the car seat. OK, that doesn't sound like the most masculine way to exit a car but the point is that the seat cover stays put. Well worth the money to get this seat cover. I'll likely buy another."

If you want to shop more useful solutions to help you thrive in 2024, check out these 18 products that will motivate you to get your $#!t together this year.