In an ideal world, the most difficult part of going to the gym would be the workout itself. Unfortunately, walking through the doors can prove to be very difficult for many people. Gym anxiety is a real thing that causes people to lose confidence and motivation as they make their way across the gym floor. Whether you’re wedged between two fit sprinters on treadmills or lifting next to an enormous, muscular beast, feelings of insecurity can sink in.
How do you get over your fear of fitness? Well, people aren’t afraid of working out, but they can experience “gymtimidation,” a common term for gym anxiety. Gym anxiety often involves feeling that people will judge your fitness level or form. Some gym anxiety may even be about returning to gyms after COVID-19, or what other gym goers will think if you wear a mask and sanitize all equipment during your workout. Just to be clear, gyms were germ-ridden environments before COVID-19, so there’s nothing wrong with sanitizing equipment!
Exercise is an integral component to both optimal physical and mental well-being. When you identify triggers of your gym anxiety, you can incorporate strategies that help you get over them and step inside the gym. Some people are beginners or have trouble using the equipment, while others prefer not to work out in a crowded environment. Whatever the case may be, we hope the following tips put an end to your “gymtimidation.”
Know Before You Go
This sounds like a survival tip, which it is in some regard. It’s best to do your research about the gym you want to go to. What’s the class schedule and what sections/equipment are available? Make sure you know where you want to work out inside the facility. Anxiety often comes from not knowing where to exercise or what to exercise. When you know where to go, it’s much easier to start your workout in a more confident way.
Hire A Trainer
If your budget allows, working with a personal trainer can be highly beneficial. Even if you only pay for a couple sessions, you’ll benefit by learning a few different workout routines. Additionally, a trainer is there to help and encourage you through the workout. By the end of the session, you’ll have an idea of the correct form for each exercise and how to use or set up the equipment. Be sure to clarify your needs, especially if you only purchase a limited number of sessions.
Exercise During Quieter Hours
The after work rush can be quite overwhelming, even for the regular gym goer. Equipment may not be available and people wait to pounce on machines as if they are prey. Peak hours tend to be in the morning and after work, but this may depend on the gym and its location. Check in with the front desk staff to see if they can recommend a time when less people are in the gym. The only plus to working out in a crowded gym is that you can take notes on how to use certain equipment.
Go With A Friend
There are those who thrive during a solo workout, but many people prefer to go to the gym with a friend or two. It’s actually better to go to the gym with a friend or family member who knows their way around a gym. They can often provide support, guidance, and comfort that can instill more confidence in you about your workout. Once you feel comfortable with your gym buddy, you’ll have more knowledge and be more comfortable working out alone.
Use Deep Breathing And Positive Thinking
It’s perfectly natural to feel overwhelmed, but panicking in these situations doesn’t benefit the body. If you feel anxious, focus on your breath and engage in diaphragmatic breathing. This type of breathing aims to lower stress levels via expansion of the stomach. Additionally, you may benefit from positive thinking. Keep your head clear of negative self-talk and make an effort to switch negative thoughts to positive ones. Don’t think, “Oh, that person thinks I’m out of shape.” Instead, channel your energy into your workout and be the change that you want to see!
You’ll find that working out tends to improve your mental health. Several studies confirmed how regular exercise decreases the risk of anxiety and depression. Although you may have to ease into the gym life, understand that there are many supportive people in the exercise community who only want the best for you. You got this!