November 1, 2019
Written By Britta Solle, Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor
The gym can be an intimidating place for many different reasons. Whether it’s the people, the noise, the equipment, or something else, it’s never fun to feel anxious in a place that should be for reaching goals and bettering yourself. As someone who has been lifting for a few years, I know exactly what that feels like, and it’s totally normal—we all have to start somewhere. When I first started working out it took months for me to find the courage to try a new machine or exercise. I didn’t even touch a barbell for almost a year of being in the gym! From someone who’s worked through all the uncertainty, self-conscious thoughts, and confusion, here are my best tips & advice for overcoming gym anxiety:
Write down your workout on your phone or in a notebook, and make it specific. Ask yourself these questions to help build your workout: What body parts do I want to work? What exercises do I want to do? What machines do I need to use? How many sets and reps of each exercise am I going to do? Write it all down. The more you get accustomed to the gym, the less specific you will probably have to be. But, this is my best piece of advice when starting out. It prevents you from wandering around aimlessly, trying a few random things, and then leaving after 15 minutes. A planned workout is a productive workout!
It’s important to know that even if it feels like everyone is staring/judging you, they’re not. The gym is very self-centered, meaning everyone is there for themselves and to better themselves. I promise they’re more focused on their own workouts (or how they look in the mirror) than what anyone else is doing.
You are there to work towards YOUR goals and better YOURSELF—it doesn’t matter what the person next to you is doing, how heavy they’re lifting, or what they look like. It’s okay to look up to certain people in the gym, but don’t get caught up in wishing you looked like them or make it your goal to look like them. Everybody is supposed to be different. You are your own amazing person; work on being the best version of YOU.
They had gym fears of their own, were unsure of themselves, and should be happy for you that you’re here working hard as well.
Look up certain things you’re unsure about on Google or Youtube. If possible, I recommend trying a bodyweight version in the comfort of your home or dorm, first! If you have a general idea of how to do the exercise, you’ll feel more confident trying it with weight at the gym.
Sometimes all it takes is a new workout outfit that you feel good in for that extra boost of confidence and motivation.
Having someone to go with you to the gym can help both of you feel more confident. Even if you’re confused, at least you can be confused together. Then, you can figure it out together, too! It’s also a great way to receive feedback about your form and have some accountability.
Ask the front desk when the gym is quiet, and then workout around those times. With less people there, you can do your own thing without gym bro next to you grunting through his reps or feeling watched. When you feel more confident, you can always switch to a different or more convenient time.
I hope that some of these tips can help you gain some confidence to start working out or to try something new in the gym! There are so many ways to exercise, and these tips can apply to any type of workout. Don’t get discouraged—it’s a process, but with time and consistency you can gain confidence and reach your fitness goals. Remember, the gym is not just for “fit” people; it is for anyone and everyone who wants to make a change. Now take a friend, write yourselves a fun workout, and go reach those goals!