Whether you are new to working out or you have taken a longer-than-you-wanted hiatus, stepping foot into a gym can be a feat itself.
Feelings of insecurity and anxiety kick in when you step foot in the gym. You see the meatheads over there in their racerback tank tops, you see people who are running like Usain Bolt on the treadmill, and there you are.
Related - Fighting Social Anxiety With Exercise
Gym anxiety is that self-conscious, why did I even come here feeling that many of us deal with. Feeling like you are being judged because you chose Little Debbies over broccoli is just the start of it - just wait until you start sweating and gasping for air like you are drowning in a bowl of gravy.
So how do the people get over gym anxiety?
While I can't speak for everybody, the majority of us know that we are no different than anybody else. We are also worried about squeezing out a fart while doing situps and we certainly hope our bellies don't fly out of our shirts, blinding everybody.
Seriously though, everybody that comes to the gym has been in your position before. The tips below will give you some insight on how to overcome your anxiety or even turn it into fuel to push yourself further.
There are only a handful of reasons why you have gym anxiety. Let's check those out now.
5 Reasons You Have Gym Anxiety
#1 - You Feel Uncertain
Feelings of uncertainty comes from a few different outlets.
A few questions you should ask yourself should be:Do you feel safe or comfortable in your gym?
Finding a gym that fits "you" is important. If you don't feel safe or you aren't in the environment you'd prefer, you just won't really like going.
It's okay to have certain preferences. The good news is there are gyms that cater to nearly every type of environment. They even have some that give out free cookies and pizza!Are you unsure how to do exercises properly?
Feeling uncertain trying exercises makes you self-conscious and you would die if you dropped a weight or fell.
This is actually quite common. If you don't have a lot of confidence in how to do an exercise, ask the staff, a personal trainer, or someone that is doing the exercise you want to learn. While the latter sounds hard, once you start building confidence in the gym, it will be easy.Are you uncomfortable around other people?
If how you feel about your body is the main reason you are uncomfortable, that's okay.
I know how it is to walk into a gym wearing a shirt that fits like a tent. You hope no excess skin shows and you really don't want to sweat through it.
Like I said earlier, that's okay. That is why you are in the gym and everyone felt that way at some point.
If you can suck it up and start going, the more confidence you have overall will change your comfort level around others.
#2 - You Are Comparing Yourself to Someone Else
The dude over there benching 315 didn't just start lifting that much... It took time.
Comparing yourself to the fittest in the gym is like telling a fish to climb a tree - it just doesn't make sense. This is your fitness journey that you get to have fun on.
#3 - You Feel like You Are Being Judged
If I told you that people go to the gym to workout, not people watch... Would you believe me?
Seriously though, if you look around the gym, everyone is self-absorbed into themselves. That isn't to be taken as negative, but no one has given you a second thought after they saw you.
If anyone really is judging you, that's their problem.
#4 - You Feel like You Don't Belong There
Going to a place with a bunch of machines full of sweaty people that you could seriously hurt yourself doesn't sound fun.
Fortunately, the more you learn and the more confidence you build will make the gym your new home.
#5 - You Fear Failing
The sooner you get over the fact that everyone fails, the easier it will be to fail and get it over with.
Everyone messes up, they miss lifts, or they do an exercise wrong. You won't be the first one to do it.
10 Ways to Combat Gym Anxiety
#1 - Ignore the "5 Percent"
If you're looking at the dude that's 5% bodyfat and shredded, he really doesn't care about you.
These people have to be dedicated and focused to get to those levels of performance. You literally can't compare yourself to them.
Focus on you and know that with consistent healthy choices that you can get there if you put the work in.
#2 - Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Hit up the personal trainer for some advice. Paying for a session or three is worth its weight in gold.
They will show you how to use all of the machines, how to do exercises properly, and you may even catch a few nutrition nuggets of gold along the way.
You can use this newfound confidence and start training on your own. Check out one of our workouts.
#3 - Get a Group of Friends
Getting a group of your coworkers or close friends together to go to the gym removes the "I'm alone" aspect of the gym.
Even if they only go to cheer you on and take up space, it will help you build enough confidence to get a good sweat session in.
#4 - Write Down Your Workout Before You Go
If you aren't writing your workouts down before you go to the gym, shame on you.
Writing down exactly you are going to do and what weights to use stops any second-guessing.
Being able to focus solely on the work that needs done makes going to the gym easier. It's sort of like setting out your clothes the night before.
#5 - Try Off-Peak Hours
If people aren't your favorite things to be around, try going on off-peak hours. Generally, an hour or two before 8 am or an hour or two after 6 pm, the gym will be packed.
Hitting the gym up on Sundays and around lunchtime seems to be a safer bet. Google your gym - many show when the busy hours are right on your search result.
#6 - Build Your Confidence
Educating yourself on how to use the machines and do exercises will build your confidence.
Bring a fitness friend or hire a personal trainer to learn. Learning how to correctly do exercises is important to remaining injury-free.
#7 - Keep a Positive Attitude
Calling yourself fat and being aware of every drop of sweat that is pouring off of chubby cheeks won't help your problems at all.
Taking any wins and personal records that you can muster up is huge in fitness. Keeping a positive attitude makes even the tough times better. Keep that negative crap at the door.
#8 - Have Low Expectations
If you are self-conscious about doing the lightest weight on your leg press machine, don't be. You're in there putting in work.
Building up strength comes with practice and time. You consistently push yourself to do one more rep or 5 extra pounds and it eventually leads up to big numbers.
If you can only bench the bar, you know that 45 pounds are your starting point. The only way you can go is up.
#9 - Dress Comfortably
Wearing overly loose or overly tight clothes to the gym both suck.
If you wear baggy clothing, you're going to catch a flap of your wind suit on the corner of the ab machine and it will move. And it's loud.
Wearing clothes that are too tight may lead to unintentional belly flops or plumber's cracks.
Finding clothes that are comfortable while allowing you to be as athletic as you can be is hard. Take the time to find clothes that fit right and don't be afraid to jump around to see how they feel.
Just wait until you catch your oversized shirt on a barbell and knock it off of the rack all while ripping your earbuds out of your ear and flinging your phone across the gym. I never did go back to that gym.
#10 - Try a Group Class
Sitting in on the back row of a group class may help you get into the mood to move.
While large groups of sweaty people may not be your thing, know that everyone else in there is suffering just as bad as you. Now kick those legs higher, Dorris.
Wrapping It Up
If you are one of the few that have never dealt with gym anxiety, my hat is off to you.
To those of us that do suffer from it, there are three key points I want you to take away from this article:
- Nobody even knows you exist in there unless you are in their way.
- The more you know, the more you grow.
- Quit overthinking and get to work.