Gym anxiety can manifest in different forms; But most people with gym anxiety feel worried, tense, or stressed at the thought of going to the gym. Although there isn't a diagnosis for gym anxiety, it is similar to experiencing social anxiety.
If at one point or another in your adult life, you will feel embarrassed, intimidated, or anxious about going to the gym. You are not alone as this is quite normal, especially when starting your fitness journey.
You may worry about what people think of your appearance or level of fitness. Maybe you have no clue how to use the gym equipment, and you feel judged by the gym regulars. Sometimes the thoughts of a crowded gym can be off-putting. Whatever your gym anxiety triggers are, rest assured that you can overcome them.
While anxiety is a mental condition that requires medication and the help of a mental health expert, different strategies can help you overcome gym anxiety.
1. Start small
Resist the urge to go all out on your first visit to the gym. You have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself, so start with a small goal that you can achieve. You can start with 20 to 30 minutes of cardio or perform some stretches and call it a day. You can also add to your routine on the next visit and gradually work your way up the fitness ladder.
2. Get a fitness coach
Working with a fitness coach can help you learn the fundamentals of fitness and exercise in a single session. You will also learn about different routines and how to perform them, plan your workouts, set up and use exercise equipment.
It all boils down to your needs – do you need a fitness coach to get you started, or for the long term? Whichever your goals, a fitness coach can help you reduce workout or gym anxiety.
3. Have a gym partner
Going to the gym with a partner who already knows their way around the gym and equipment can help you overcome your anxiety. Your partner can be a friend or family member who will provide support and guidance. In addition, doing so removes the unknown that may trigger your gym anxiety. As time passes, you can hit the gym alone with a confidence boost since you already know what to do and how to do it.
4. Consider group classes
People who already struggle with social anxiety may find group fitness classes triggering. However, group exercise sessions have proven to help remove anxiety due to not knowing what to do in the gym. The instructor and other group members will provide you with guidance and support.
5. Make a schedule and a workout plan
Having a plan is crucial for time management, effectiveness, and reducing uncertainty.
Having a plan in place will help you focus on your workout rather than trying to figure out what to do next. In addition, it is also a good idea to come to the gym dressed for your workout if using the locker room gives you anxiety.
6. Stay the course
Your confidence will grow as you go, and it will become easier for you to step inside. If the gym makes you anxious, it's natural to avoid it, but if you find ways to cope with the stress and stick with it, you'll be better off in the long run.