I actually wrote this post on how to overcome gym anxiety back in 2018, but I felt it should be shared again since gyms are starting to open up in more areas and people are trying to lose the weight they may have gained during quarantine.
If you followed my old blog or have followed my on social media for awhile, you already know that I lost all of my weight with at-home fitness programs because of my gymphobia.
A long time ago, during one of my many attempts to lose weight, I joined one of those “women only” gyms. I figured it would be a more comfortable way to get myself active because it was only women and most women have issues with what they see in the mirror on a daily basis.
What I forgot was that women can be nasty and vicious.
One day while I was on the treadmill at the gym, I overheard a group of women making fun of my size. I instantly became embarrassed and couldn’t wait to get out of there. I never went back again, even though I still had to pay my monthly fees.
I allowed them to control my life and I regret that.
It took me over 16 years to get over that moment. That’s crazy when I sit here and think back on it and it’s something I don’t want anyone else to do.
First off, some people just suck. There is no way around that. They can be small minded and so insecure about themselves, that they need to belittle everyone around them so they can feel better about themselves. It’s not you that has the problem…it’s them. Remember that.
If you’re in the gym looking to improve yourself and someone makes fun of you instead of giving you credit for getting started, they are not a good person and karma will eventually bite them in the ass.
Walking into the gym when you’re not used to going is intimidating enough without small minded people like that. Between worrying that you might not know how to use the equipment properly, to worrying about your gym clothes or if you’re breathing too heavy while climbing 9 million steps on the stair master, the last thing we need is their shit.
But enough of my rambling...
Here are some tips on how to get over the gym anxiety ...so you can be the best version of you that you can be!
When you first join the gym, find a gym partner – Preferably someone who has been going for awhile and feels confident in the gym. They can help you with the equipment and to feel more at ease your first few times going. Don’t have someone? Many gyms will give you a full tour and set you up with a trainer to show you how to properly use the machines for free. There are many YouTube videos that show you how to use machines. Take some time to plan out what you’d like to do and then do your research!
Try to visit the gym at off peak times – If you’re worried about being judged for how you look or not knowing how to use the equipment, going at an off peak time can truly help, since there will be less people there. Usually the gym is busiest in the early morning and right after work. Don’t be afraid to ask the front desk person at your gym when the quieter times are.
Don’t let fear or self consciousness stop you from going – For the most part, it’s all in our heads and those “mean girls” I dealt with are not the norm. Most people at the gym are zoned out what they are doing. They are lost in their music, thinking about all of the things they have to do that day and believe it or not, they may even be worried about being judged themselves. Most people are too busy focusing on themselves to notice those around them. This self absorbed mentality work in your favor.
It’s okay to skip the classes and just do your own thing – I have never been a class person because I find how “easily” some people get the steps to be intimidating. They give me major anxiety. “What if I step left when I’m supposed to go right?! Everyone is going to laugh at me and I will never be able to show my face in the gym again!” If walking into the gym gives you anxiety, why make it worse by adding more anxiety with a class? It’s okay to skip them. Trust me…I joined Planet Fitness because they don’t offer classes - I removed on of my own triggers to make the experience easier.
Set clear goals that you can achieve – Don’t start out with a goal of hitting the gym 7 days a week for an hour a day when you first start out. Aim for 3 days a week for 30 mins. It’s much more reasonable, gives you time to rest between workouts (trust me, you will be sore) and it will help you to build confidence. If you find you love it and thrive in the environment once you're comfortable, adjust things.
Don’t compare yourself to others – I preach this about social media and I’ll preach it about the gym. You can NOT compare your chapter 1 to someones chapter 30. You are not them and they are not you. They may be comfortable and confident lifting heavy weight with all the dudes, but once upon a time they were an anxiety filled newbie too. Just stayed focused on yourself! You’ll be happier that way.
When you feel frustrated or like giving up, remember your goals– You are asked to set goals for a reason. It’s so when you’re feeling like a failure, you can refer back to them, remember why you set them and refocus. There is no such thing as failure if you keep dusting yourself off and trying again. (See Be Stubborn, Yet Flexible)
Block out the noise with headphones – Getting lost in a good, motivating playlist is what I do when I’m at the gym. I channel all of my energy into the workout and fuel that workout with the music I choose. (I listen to a lot of 90’s hip hop, Eminem and Linkin Park when I lift - it helps me to channel my inner badass.) Doing this also helps to drown out the chatter that goes on around you and keeps the focus off of what others around you are doing. You want to get into "the zone".
When in doubt, ask someone – I know… I know… asking someone is proof that you don’t what you are doing, but it’s okay. When I first started at the gym I had a gym partner, but they stopped coming at one point and I wanted to change up my workouts. There was equipment I wasn’t familiar with, so I simply asked a fellow gym goer if they could show me how to use it. Did I want to throw-up as I approached them to ask? Yup…but it honestly wasn’t that bad and I ended up making a new acquaintance at the gym. Score!
Be proud of yourself – No matter how nervous you feel. No matter silly you may think you look. BE PROUD. You walked through those doors, you signed up, you did your workout and maybe you tried new things. There is ALWAYS something to be proud of… even on the days when your workout sucks and you hated every second of it.
Still feeling uneasy or unsure after reading all of this? Shoot me a message and let’s chat! Have some additional tips? Let's chat!
Lastly if the gym isn't for you, THAT'S OKAY! I still prefer my at-home workouts over going to the gym, but I like having the gym as an option. Both have plusses and both have minuses. In the end, you need to do what works best for you - just give it a full shot before you make the final decision. Listen and subscribe to the podcast version of this blog HERE