| June 17, 2021

Tips to overcome fear of the gym

Overcoming the fear of the gym is a common mental barrier for beginners and can attribute to pre-existing anxiety. Having goals to physically better yourself is certainly admirable, but many people can see the gym as an intimidating space.

By Trevor Mah

Read time: 5 min.

Overcoming the fear of the gym is a common mental barrier for beginners and can attribute to pre-existing anxiety. Having goals to physically better yourself is certainly admirable, but many people can see the gym as an intimidating space.

For those who may be self-conscious or have body image issues, getting a start on their journey can be the hardest part. With gym openings on the horizon, here are some tips to help address common insecurities so you can focus on tackling your own personal goals and turn the gym into an environment of empowerment.

1. You are here for yourself, no one else.
You can find many different versions of this point in the form of cheesy social media posts, popular self-help books, and even television shows. But this really is a powerful mental reason to keep in mind because you are truly your own measure of success. Everybody had to start from somewhere, even the people you may be in awe of putting in the sweat equity. It’s very common for everyone to look at other people and compare themselves, or make comments in their heads, but at the end of the day no one really cares about your results but you (except if you also have a personal trainer too). Being inspired and motivated by others is one thing, but your journey and goals are unique so don’t use someone else as a measuring stick to get to where you want to be.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Sometimes it isn’t just the other people who are at the gym that can be intimidating, but not knowing where to start can be overwhelming. Countless machines and equipment can be confusing and this can cause someone to be adverse to using anything but the “simple” cardio machines. Most gyms usually do have staff who can help you get a start and should know how to at least show you how every machine works. This is an okay way to start if you’re new, but working with a personal trainer is also a great investment to make the best out of your time if you can make it work. Other gym members can be helpful, but may lack the training experience to appropriately get you started. Be cautious of any information you are uncertain of, but it doesn’t help to ask for basic advice.

Going with a friend can also help because there are power in numbers. Whether you are both on the same journey and starting point, or if they are more advanced than you, a natural support system can be a great boost to your confidence. At the end of the day, most people are there to become better versions of themselves too, and you’ll be surprised at how often inviting they can be when you simply just talk to them. Who knows? You might even end up making a gym buddy at the end of the day. Be mindful of how active they are during their session though.

3. Have options for your exercise

The gym isn’t the end all for getting yourself in shape. It’s great to have access to a place that has thousands of dollars of equipment, but simply getting started by finding ways to be active can both jumpstart your motivation and supplement your training. During nice weather days, running, hiking, and playing sports are great ways to get yourself moving. While many people can be pretty bummed about not being able to be in the gym, there is always an opportunity to work on some aspect of your fitness if you know where to look.

If you really are intent on getting it done at the gym, explore your options with what else is available. Group classes are generally a popular option for those who want to be in an energizing environment with others while being guided by an instructor so there isn’t any guesswork when it comes to working out for the hour. For example, spin classes are essentially a guided cardio class with intensity changing throughout the session. This usually also addresses the boredom some people may have with spending too much time on a cardio machine.

4. Create a workout ritual

Developing the habit and being consistent is the key to any successful fitness goal. Think of ways you can build upon consistency with little things you can do to get yourself ready before, during, and after your workout. Planning the time to hit the gym can make a big difference so it becomes part of your regular day. If you can avoid peak hours, a less busy gym can help with any social anxiety concerns and have more space to yourself.

Making a playlist that can help energize you as there are numerous accounts of people simply being more amped up with the right tunes. Just be careful not to get carried away with other things you may be doing on your phone though. Even something as simple as wardrobe choices can make a difference in how you feel. Whether you are wearing the latest brand name gear or are wearing nerdy shirts, work out in something that makes you feel comfortable.

While some of these tips may be glossed over, small decisions can go a long way in getting yourself through the gym doors. Whatever your routine may be, just stick with it. As cliché as it sounds, if you fail to prepare, then you are preparing to fail.

Going to the gym can be a big challenge, but also a great success by simply making it through. As mentioned before everyone has started somewhere, and have likely been through similar things you may be feeling too. While gyms may get a bad reputation for being “too cliquey”, the more you end up going the quicker you’ll overcome the intimidation and realize your own confidence growing. So don’t let your nerves get the best of you. The fitness community is always more welcoming, friendly, and empowering than it may seem.

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