| May 31, 2021

How to deal with gym anxiety

If you don’t have a plan for once the diet is over, you’ll likely gain all the weight back, and often more. If your goal is to lose weight, and keep it off, that means there will have to be some permanent changes to your lifestyle.

By Michelle Moen

Read time: 3 min.

Have you been thinking about making some healthy changes for awhile, and want to start going to the gym, but every time you think about it you get too anxious? What do I wear? How do I use the stupid machines? Am I doing this right? Is that girl over there judging me? Maybe I’ll wait until I’ve lost some weight first, then I’ll feel more comfortable. DO NOT DO THIS. Everyone deserves to feel safe and welcomed at the gym. Don’t wait until you feel ‘ready,’ or ‘good enough,’ because I’m telling you right now that will very unlikely ever happen.

We are all our own worst critics, and many of the most fit looking people at the gym are just as insecure about their bodies as you are. That being said, there are a lot of things you can do to better prepare yourself to have a positive experience at the gym.

1. Find A Gym Buddy.

Talk to different people in your social network, and ask if you can tag along to workout with them. It’s a lot less intimidating to be at the gym when you have someone else there showing you what to do, and how to use the equipment. Besides, it’s a lot more fun to suffer together, and you could come out of it forming a tight friendship with someone you were previously not close with. Don’t be afraid to workout with different people, since it could help you figure out what style of training you enjoy best.

2. Wear Clothes You’re Comfortable In.

Did you buy that shirt from Lululemon that’s a little too snug, because you know it’ll fit you ‘soon?’ Don’t wear it. Make sure you’re choosing clothes that you feel 100% confident in. Pick clothes that fit you right now, not clothes that you’re constantly tugging at. If you feel confident rocking a sports bra and short shorts, rock it! If you’re stressing out every time you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, don’t wear it.

3. Audit Different Gyms.

Different gyms have very different atmospheres. Do you want to workout at a powerlifting gym? Bodybuilding gym? Crossfit gym? What’s the average age and type of person that goes to each gym? Drop in to various gyms, and get a ‘feel’ for it. Do you feel comfortable working out here? Don’t sign a contract too soon before you’ve tried out different places. It’s a heavy sting paying for a membership you aren’t using.

4. Go In With a Plan.

Another way to reduce gym anxiety is to make sure you have a plan before stepping into the gym. If you’re on a budget there’s many different workout plans available online for free. Print one off and follow it. It helps going into the gym with a plan, rather than walking around using the same 5 machines every time. Try out different workout plans. Figure out a style of training that you genuinely enjoy doing.

5. Celebrate Small Wins.

Set yourself small goals along the way. Bonus points if it’s not aesthetic based. Instead of focusing on what you look like, set performance based goals. Improve your flexibility, do 5 minutes longer on the stair master, lift 10 more pounds on your bench press. Make the goals reasonable, and celebrate the heck out yourself once you reach them. Your mental health will thank you.

At the end of the day, everyone at the gym is too busy focusing on themselves to be judging you. It’s unlikely that they’re paying attention to you at all. We are all insecure. We are all in the gym trying to better ourselves in some way. Don’t sweat what the people around you are doing. Do YOU. On the odd occasion you might encounter an unsavoury character. I wish it didn’t happen, but sometimes it does. Don’t let one rotten egg steer you off eggs altogether. You deserve to be at the gym, just like everyone else, no matter where you are in your health journey.

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