Walking Into The Lions Den

21/08/2012 13:24 BST | Updated 20/10/2012 10:12 BST

The weights room can be an intimidating place for anyone let alone a newcomer and especially if you are a woman.

Er, was that a glower from that dude built-as-a-brick on the bench press as I just walked in? I like to think myself of a confident hard woman - well it comes with being a journalist. You have to be tough to survive in this industry both inside and outside the newsroom. Not only do you have to deal with the wrath of the editor's tongue but you often have to take insults from those who just plain hate journalists as soon as you step outside into the big wide world!

Anyway back to the gym.

So yes, I've been training hard in the weights room at my gym for three weeks now and it's been an interesting journey.

Despite being a member at the gym for years, like many women, I avoided going to the weights room and headed straight for the cardio room. For me it was not as much as feeling intimidated by men but more that I didn't understand the importance of lifting weights to get the perfect body.

So when I did eventually step inside the weights room for the first time, anyone would've thought I had casually walked into the lions den.

The ripped regular boys - and yes there was not a single woman in sight - practically strained their necks, blinked a few times and pondered over what I was doing there.

I like a good old challenge so I wasn't really fazed by this and was expecting it.

I knew I would need time to get used to the unfamiliar weight room's customs and etiquette.

Mentally I thought "Get used to it lads. You'll be seeing a lot of me in this room."

So as I went about sussing out the equipment available to me and the programme I needed to follow, I felt I was being closely watched and critiqued by a number of eyes.

Yet at no point did anyone come up to me to help me or show me the way if they felt I was doing it all wrong.

If anything, the guys made a conscious effort to stay as far away from me as possible.

It felt like a fear of the unknown on their part. This thought actually made me chuckle and smile inside a few times because I originally thought it was I that would be intimidated by them.

So in the first week I carried on in a "fake it to make it" style as I familiarised myself with the various weight and exercise programme given to me by my trainer Tony.

Each day I work on different sets of muscles. So it's legs and abs one day, chest and back the next, shoulders and arms on another beforeI take a rest day and repeat the cycle.

Slowly I've managed to look like a bit of a pro if I say so myself, and walk around the room changing the weights on the bar to suit and just getting on with it without feeling I need to justify my existence there.

And it's funny because three weeks on, I feel I've finally been accepted in the 'boys' room.

Most of them now nod their heads on their beefy shoulders in acknowledgement that I've walked in or actually bother to say hello.

Others have taken upon themselves to try and encourage me when I'm say doing the 50th rep on the bench press.

One or two of them have even taken it a step further by shouting "Go on girl, go on Phagura" thinking they are helping me out.

Funny thing is I don't remember introducing myself to any of them.

It must be the male instinct of trying to fix a problem of thinking they are helping.

To be honest, I don't mind at all. In fact I have to say I look forward to my gym sessions.

It's always good to be accepted within a group and that feeling of belonging.

Considering I will be spending practically every spare moment of mine in that weights room, is probably not a bad thing.

But I'm not sure I'm used to having a heavy hand whacking me on my already sore back yet by a couple of the beefy lads.

And I think it will be a while before I'm invited for that all important protein-shake with them after a tough session!