In this article, we explain “how to get over gym anxiety”. Gym anxiety is a common phenomena, especially if you are a beginner at the gym. The fear of the unknown as you step into a gym for the first time can be nerve wracking .
When I visited my gym for the first time I was nervous too. My biggest fear was the feeling of being judged for my appearance or at my attempt to try an exercise for the first time.
As a fitness coach, when i speak to my client about their anxiety they give some of the reasons below:
- A lot of people will be looking at me.
- I don’t know how to use any of these equipment.
- The weight room is intimidating
The truth is, everyone goes through these emotions regardless of their gender, age and fitness levels.
Follow our seven tips on how to get over gym anxiety and smash your first workout session.
Plan and prepare ahead for your gym session to get over gym anxiety
Selecting a comfortable gym clothing and accessories will be the first few steps of your gym preparation. From my experience , I strongly recommend wearing a comfortable gym wear which allows your body to move freely without restricting your range of motion. A proper gym attire will not only help you to remain more confident but also expel the gym anxiety.
Carry your own accessories such as water bottle, a towel and a pair of gym gloves. I also recommend using a notepad to record details of your workout such as the name of the exercise, weights lifted , sets & reps performed and any doubts in technique that may come up during your workout session.
Book a gym tour
Most gyms offer a free tour of the gym or a beginner induction session. These tours and inductions are designed to help members to find their way into different areas of the gym. These sessions are great for clarifying any doubts that you may have.
Build exercise knowledge and a gym routine
Nowadays, there are plenty of online resources providing beginner exercises. You can write down a basic workout routine prior to your gym visit. This will not only keep you in track but also gives a structure to your workout. To understand the technique and setting up of each equipment you can either hire a personal trainer or use resources such as book, online articles or youtube videos.
Most of the gym equipment have to be set up or adjusted to carry out your workout. For example, adjustment of seat or weight based on your own anatomy and fitness levels. This is a learning curve that everyone goes through. But don’t panic, most modern gyms provide operational instruction on each equipment. The operational instructions can come in handy, while trying to set up the equipment for your workout. You can also ask help from the gym staff or their customer service team.
Allow yourselves some extra time for the initial gym sessions to understand each equipment.
Stay focussed on your goals to avoid gym anxiety
It is quite normal to feel that everyone is looking at you. In reality, this is not true. Generally, almost everyone in the gym is working towards improving their own fitness & trying to reach their goal.
When you are sincerely working hard towards your fitness goals, you will not have time to worry about who is watching you or how you look when you perform an exercise. Your focus should remain on your technique, form and other aspect of your exercise. To increase your focus, you can also try plugging in a pair of headphones and listen to some motivational workout music or an inspiring podcast.
Stop comparing yourself with other people in the gym
When you start comparing your own body with another person’s physique you are inviting negative thoughts that may demotivate and distract you from your own goals. If you are consistently putting your efforts and remain focussed on exercise and nutrition, you will be able to achieve your body goals. So, stop comparing and avoid distractions. The only person that you want to be comparing with yourself and you should be asking yourself “am I working harder than yesterday?” because at the end of the day that’s what matters.
Visit gym with a friend or a mentor
Teamwork is dreamwork. This is also very true when it comes to a fitness session.
Working out with a friend or a partner is a great way to get out of gym anxiety.If you are anxious about going to your gym on your own, ask a friend or mentor who is familiar with working out in a gym environment. They will be able to teach you some basic skills and techniques.
When you are with a friend you will feel more secure and comfortable during your workouts. Once you complete those initial workout sessions, you can try visiting the gym on your own.
Attend a group class to get over gym anxiety
Attending a group class led by a qualified fitness coach is also a great way to familiarise with exercising. There are a variety of classes which are either based on body weight or gym equipment. Group classes builds your confidence in attending gym while the members of the group will motivate each other to complete the full session.