When I started to go to the gym consistently after college, my gym anxiety was REAL. I avoided the “bro area” at all costs and managed to hide behind any exercise machine that wasn’t right smack in the middle of wandering eyes.
Going to the gym alone was a whole new monster for me. Despite my severe lack of confidence, I was determined to not let my gym anxiety and fear of going to the gym alone hold me back from my goals.
I’m the first to admit that going to the gym alone can be very overwhelming, especially when you are just starting your fitness journey. I consider myself an introvert so even though I hate to admit it, even after almost two years of going to the gym, I STILL have some sort of gym anxiety.
But I’ve come a long way and I want to share with you what has helped me overcome my gym anxiety and shake off the intimidation to work out with confidence.
- Know your plan of action
I think one of the major reasons we have gym anxiety is because a lot of the time we struggle with where to start. At the beginning of my fitness journey, I made sure to Google every exercise on my workout plan before I went to the gym so I could know how to properly execute it. There’s nothing worse than getting to the gym and not knowing what to do next so this helped me out a lot. We all start somewhere so remember there’s nothing wrong in looking for outside resources for guidance.
Now that I’m more familiar with exercises and proper form, before I go to the gym I plan and write down my workout in the Notes app on my iPhone. This helps me go in with a plan and get out as efficiently as possible.
If you’re just starting out, Google will be your savior. You will not only find the proper form to do an exercise, but you will also find an endless amount of beginner workouts already planned out for you. As you progress, you can tailor the workouts to exercises that you prefer and love.
- Find your gym tribe
When I first joined the gym, I was talked into personal training by one of the employees. I didn’t have the cash flow to afford it, but I knew I needed some kind of direction if I wanted to be successful. After my experience, I 100% recommend getting a trainer for at least a couple of months if you’re just starting out. With your health goals in mind, they will be able to guide you in the right direction and set a solid foundation from where you can only go up.
I had a trainer for about 2 months with 2 sessions per month and I found it extremely helpful. Heck, I even still have some of the old workouts he used to make for me! Even though I only saw him twice a month, all my workouts for each week were already planned for me which was super easy for me to follow and made it 100 times less overwhelming!
Pro tip: most gym’s run personal training session specials all the time! If you’re tight on cash, subscribe to their mailing list or follow them on social media to stay in the know of their upcoming discounts.
If you can’t afford personal training, take group classes! Being surrounded by others will help your gym anxiety by staying motivated, getting work out ideas and having fun while doing it. The best part about it is that you don’t have to worry about anything else but showing up.
- Focus on you
This is an obvious one but one that we are all guilty of not doing. Working out is as much a physical thing as it is a mental thing. When I’m not mentally there, my workouts suffer. I get distracted by what other people are doing or I’m self-conscious of people looking at me. But it’s so important to pull yourself back from that and recognize that you’re taking this time out of your day FOR YOU. Not for anybody else.
So focus on your form, connect your mind to the right muscles, get a little lower, lift a little heavier, and completely connect your mind with your body. You will see how much more focused you are and what a difference it makes in your work outs.
- Wear a hat
You know that awkward eye contact at the gym? Yeah, I hate it too. That is why this is probably my favorite tactic. Up until recently, I never wore hats to the gym (even though I wanted to) because 1. I felt like people would look at me funny for wearing a hat indoors and 2. I felt like no girl wore a hat to the gym.
One day I said screw it and I fell in love! Wearing a hat makes it so much easier to not make awkward make eye contact with people. It helps me get into my zone and focus on me and my workout. After I started wearing a hat, I realized how many other girls actually wear one. Try it out and let me know how you like it 😉
- Go during non-peak hours
I still HATE a crowded gym. I love going to the gym on a Saturday afternoon because there’s no one there! That not only means fewer people to intimidate you but also fewer people to take up equipment!
I find that most gyms are usually packed M-THs between 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., and empty in the early morning hours (I’m talking 6 a.m.) and on weekend afternoons and evenings. Pro tip: if you Google your gym, they will usually have popular hours listed underneath their location!
- Make a killer playlist
One thing that helps me get in the zone is a killer playlist. I usually use Pandora or Spotify but if the Wi-Fi isn’t working (limited data probs) I always make sure to have fresh music on my iTunes for backup. I can’t risk listening to something that I don’t enjoy while working out. Without my playlists my workouts would not be the same. Music keeps me focused, pumped and ready for the next set.
- Bring a buddy
Whether you’re a gym newbie or a seasoned vet, there’s just something about having a friend there with you that makes you feel a whole lot more confident. Many of us are scared to go the gym alone when we first start out and that is completely okay. I feel so much better when I have somebody else there with me to at least walk around with. Having some moral support there is extremely helpful in getting you to feel comfortable in the gym.
Gym anxiety is a real thing. Gym intimidation is a real thing. We all feel self-conscious and nervous when we’re doing things out of our comfort zone. But remember, getting outside of your comfort zone is when the magic happens!
Do your research, go prepared, focus on you, and own the gym with confidence. Overtime, you will get stronger (physically & mentally) and your worry that people are judging you will diminish tremendously. You go to the gym to better yourself and live a more health-conscious life, so don’t let your fear of judgment or embarrassment stop you from reaching your goals.
How do you overcome gym anxiety and intimidation?