A shame-free guide to beating fitness anxiety and feeling confident in the gym.
Gymtimidation. It’s a real and ugly thing.
You downloaded a workout graphic, bought a new program, or saved a workout video on Instagram, and you’re super motivated to hit the weights . . . until the next day, when you find a million and one excuses to avoid the gym.
Maybe you worry that you won’t look like the fitness models on Instagram [spoiler: most people in the gym don’t look like them]. Maybe you’re unsure of how to use the equipment. Maybe you’re afraid of being judged or stared at.
Hand in the air, G U I L T Y of fearing it A L L! Up until recently, working out in a gym with more experienced people gave me the w o r s t anxiety. But, if there is one thing I’ve learned on my journey, it’s that e v e r y o n e starts somewhere.
Before I became comfortable on the weight floor, I wouldn’t even load a barbell for fear I wouldn’t be able to lift just the plates. I stuck with the 5-10 lb dumbbells because I didn’t want people to see me fail with anything heavier. I did the same basic exercises over and over again so that no one could judge me for doing anything incorrectly [turns out my back squat was all wrong all along . . . ].
Friends, we are ALL new to the game at some point. It took me almost a year to feel comfortable on the weight floor, and there are some days that I still struggle [especially in new gyms]. BUT, I’ve learned a few things along the way, and I’m sharing them with you in hopes of helping you B E A T gymtimidation and keep pushing forward in your journey!
- Timing is KEY. If you’re new to the gym scene, you definitely don’t want to walk in during peak hours and not be able to find your way around. Typically, 6-8 am and 5-7 pm are the busiest hours . . . but every gym is different, so ask around! You’ll find me there early in the morning, with the same small crowd of early birds, getting it done before heading to work. Find a time that works best for you and make a commitment to stick to it!
- Go in with a plan. When I signed up for a gym membership, I knew almost nothing about strength training. I spent a lot of time browsing Instagram and Pinterest for workout routines. I would write out my workout in the ‘notes’ section of my phone the night before, and even watch Youtube videos of the exercises I wasn’t completely sure about.
- Walk a lap around the gym floor. I still do this, especially if I’m visiting a new gym, but some days just for workout inspiration. This is a chance to see what is available, familiarize yourself with the equipment, and think through your exercises.
- Sign up for an introductory session with a trainer. They are usually happy to show you how to use the equipment and give you an overview of some basic exercises. Many gyms offer one session free when you purchase your membership. Don’t be afraid to ask questions . . . that’s what they’re there for.
- Headphones in, music up! Make a playlist you know you can get lost in, turn the volume up, and let the music empower you to crush your workout.
- Observe. Pay attention to what other people around you are doing, and learn from them. Larger gyms are filled with experienced trainers . . . you can learn SO much from watching them. [note: don’t follow them around – just observe from a distance and learn everything you can]
- Wear an outfit that makes you feel amazing. Girl, you are w o r t h it! Buy an outfit that you feel comfortable and confident in, and grind through your workout without having to readjust your leggings after every rep. See: Best & Favorite [Affordable] Workout Clothes
- Make it a date! Grab your best girlfriend and take her along for accountability and encouragement. You’ll be less self-conscious with a buddy, and it’s always more fun with a little accountability.
- Do NOT compare yourself to others. Remind yourself that you do not know where they are in their journey. You absolutely cannot compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. I used to fall into this trap all. the. time. until I realized how negatively it affected my mindset. Work for what you want. Celebrate every victory. Never, ever compare.
- Remember, e v e r y o n e starts somewhere. And, I promise you that everyone around you is more concerned with their own workout than they are with watching/judging yours.
When you feel anxious or unsure, remember your WHY. Why are you here? Why are you working towards a better lifestyle? If you want it badly enough, you’ll push past your fear and make yourself so damn proud.
I truly hope these tips are helpful! Do you struggle with gymtimidation? I’d love to hear some of the things you do to overcome the anxiety! Feel free to share below.