How to Overcome the Fear of Going to the Gym
If you want to be healthy and fit, you’ve probably considered going to the gym. Gyms, and fitness centers, are full of tools that can help you reach your fitness goals. You have access to the latest machines, instructors, and the right atmosphere to get fit.
The only challenge? Going to the gym can be terrifying, and the resulting anxiety can cause many to skip going entirely.
Why Are People So Afraid of Going to the Gym?
The fear of going to the gym is a very common one. Why is that? Not all people who want to go to the gym are muscular, well-toned athletes. Some may be battling self-esteem issues, trying to lose weight, or struggling to gain extra muscle.
There may be many who look just like you at the gym, but your anxious mind will not notice them. Instead, you’ll likely focus on the gym fanatics who’ve been there for much longer. So you’ll only see muscular, well-toned people and feel like the odd one out.
When you combine feeling like an outcast with concerns – such as people watching you sweat through your clothes or struggling to lift even the smallest weights – it’s easy to see why many get anxious. Your anxiety is understandable, but you can win the battle. How do you do that?
Try these helpful tips to overcome “gym intimidation”:
Do your homework. Learn how pieces of equipment work and research how to perform specific exercises. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of every machine, but having a basic understanding of how they work could help reduce your anxiety. You can also ask an instructor for assistance.
● Plan which exercises you’ll do before you get to the gym. You’ll then have a clear vision of what will happen once you walk through the door. For instance, you might plan to start on the treadmill and then move on to the weights.
Go at hours when the gym is less busy. The last thing you want is to show up when the gym is very crowded. Seeing so many people at once can spike your anxiety.
● Skipping peak hours also means that you spend less time waiting around awkwardly for a machine to become available.
● Find out when the gym is busiest by talking to the receptionist or trainers. You can also check Google, as there are often “peak times” displayed for several Google listings.
Go with a friend. If you feel isolated in a room full of experienced athletes, that feeling lessens significantly when you’re with a friend. You’ll have someone to laugh with, motivate, and support you.
● Going with a friend also makes it more likely that you’ll actually go. It’s harder to back out when you know doing so will let your friend down.
Focus on the workout. Not only does this make it easier to handle gym anxiety, but it increases your chances of having a better workout.
● Focusing on your workout makes you more likely to get your form right and suffer fewer injuries. You’ll also pay less attention to what others are doing, which will help curb your anxiety.
Keep trying. Even if you only manage to stay at the gym for twenty minutes on your first day, it’s better than not turning up. Keep showing up and working out. Eventually, the experience will become easier.
Your fear of going to the gym is real and understandable, but you can overcome that fear and achieve your fitness goals.
Do your homework, ask a friend to accompany you, and plan your visit for when there are fewer people. Once you arrive, focus on your workouts and avoid looking at others.
You may still feel anxious the first few times, but that's perfectly normal. When you keep at it, you’ll overcome your fear and may even end up helping newcomers overcome their fears too!