Some people absolutely love going to the gym. But true “gym rats” are few and far between. For most of us, it’s a struggle. Not only does it require energy and self-discipline, but there’s also the issue of self-confidence. And if you aren’t careful, that can quickly devolve into gym anxiety.
What is Gym Anxiety?
Gym anxiety is exactly what it sounds like. It’s that self-conscious feeling you get when faced with an intimidating, awkward, or potentially overwhelming experience at the gym. It can involve uncertainty, fear of how others will judge you, and/or confusion over how to use certain equipment or what to do in a particular class.
It all starts with nerves. And if you’re unfortunate enough to have (what you think to be) an embarrassing hiccup at the gym, it gets worse. Couple that with a snide remark about your appearance or the feeling that everyone is staring at you and these initial nerves become full blown anxiety.
Inexperienced gym-goers are most likely to suffer from gym anxiety. However, it’s not an issue exclusively reserved for newbies. Even the most experienced members of the fitness community — guys and gals — can experience acute or chronic bouts with this unwavering, unnerving, psychological roadblock.
4 Tips for Overcoming Gym Anxiety
Though it may seem like an impossible issue to overcome when you’re in the throes of self-consciousness and dread, gym anxiety can be defeated. Here are a few of our favorite tactics and recommendations:
Put Things Into Perspective
Want to know the truth? Nobody cares about you. (Yes, your family and friends care about you, but nobody at the gym cares about you.) While you think everyone is sitting around watching your every move, the reality is that they’re focused on their own workout. (And they’re probably self-consumed with the notion that you are watching and judging them.)
We all have this idea that the world revolves around us, yet the truth is that most people aren’t even paying attention. When you put things into this perspective, it becomes easier to brush off mistakes and focus on your workout.
Workout With a Friend
There’s something powerful and encouraging about having someone by your side. And it’s for this reason that many sufferers of gym anxiety prefer to work out with a buddy.
It doesn’t matter if your friend is just as anxious or inexperienced as you are. The main objective is to help you feel at ease. And if having a trusted partner by your side takes some of the edge off, that’s a good thing. (On a related note, a partner is also helpful for holding you accountable and ensuring you show up to the gym – even on days when you don’t feel like it.)
Join a Gym You’re Comfortable With
Not all gyms are created equal. You might feel uncomfortable in one gym and totally at home in another. It’s up to you to look around and find the one that makes you feel at ease.
There are gyms that cater to power lifters and experienced fitness professionals. There are gyms that are designed for people who simply want to pop in on their lunch break, workout for 30 minutes, and get out. There are gyms for women only. There are gyms with classes and gyms with weights/machines only. There’s a gym for everyone!
Hire a Personal Trainer
You don’t need to be wealthy or a gym rat to have your own personal trainer. In fact, having a personal trainer is one of the single best things you can do for overcoming gym anxiety and becoming fit.
The first option is to try home personal training. This allows you to work out in the comfort of your own home. The personal trainer comes to you; you’re able to build confidence and get in shape without worrying about other people watching you.
The second option is to hire a personal trainer at your gym. When you have your own trainer, you don’t have to worry about looking foolish on a piece of equipment you’ve never used. You get one-on-one coaching and, eventually, will have the confidence to tackle any workout on your own.
Bet Fit, Be You
Gym anxiety doesn’t have to define your fitness routine and approach to exercise and healthy living. While it’s a very real issue — one clearly worth addressing — there’s freedom on the other side. By following the advice outlined in this article, you can become a healthier and happier version of yourself.