10 Tips to Overcome Your Fear of the Gym

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By Brittany Newland

How many times have you felt so inspired throughout the day to go to the gym, but when gym time finally rolls around, you’d rather watch paint dry? Or you finally pull into the parking lot, drive around and leave? LOL. I have been there so many times in my life. In fact, I would need more than two hands to count how many times. I would finally get there, nervously open the door of my car to get out thinking I will have some restored confidence by the time I walk up to the building, but then turn around to go back home acting like I just received a more than important phone call.

What is it about the gym that makes us have a sense of fear? For me, I have this irrational fear that everyone at the gym is just blatantly staring at me. I fear they are laughing at me and it makes me think, ‘I don’t know what I’m even doing at the gym. Why AM I even here? MUST. LEAVE. NOW.’ It’s this constant anxiety that I’ve always had, but mix it with something that isn’t my favorite, and also throw in a big group of people.

There are more than a few ways we can slowly combat this fear. Here are some tips that can help you almost instantly overcome your fear of the gym:

  1. Hire a personal trainer. Get support and motivation from a professional. They’ll teach you the DOs and DON’Ts, and you will get in shape faster than you would on your own.
  2. Ask friends to come with you. This helps me a lot. Being alone at the gym can be pretty scary, non-motivational and isolating. Ask a friend or two and make it a healthy way to have fun together. You can always do something afterward like get a smoothie. You are holding each other accountable, so it makes it harder to back out of going at the last minute.
  3. Go when it’s not busy. I try to go early morning or late at night. When it’s not as packed, I feel like I can tackle anything without the fear of judgment.
  4. Make a plan. This will help you break up your workout so you’re not doing one thing for too long, making it seem like time is ticking away forever.
  5. Realize no one is even paying attention to you. They really aren’t. They are a lot more focused on themselves than you may think. Worrying about what strangers think of you is pointless, anyway.
  6. Focus on how exercise makes you feel. This is the whole point of working out! There are so many benefits. Sweating makes you feel better in the long run.
  7. Wear something that makes you feel good. If you already don’t want to be there and show up feeling self-conscience with your clothing choice, you’re definitely going to want to get out of there. Wear something comfortable so you can feel comfortable.
  8. Take a group class. If your gym offers a group class, consider joining. This is a great way to make friends and be able to stick to a gym schedule that makes you excited.
  9. Own the back row. I still do this. I look at the people in the front of the gym, and realizing I am not there yet to set some kind of example. I love working out in the back because I don’t feel as “watched.” It makes me feel a lot better about my workout.
  10. Build confidence by working out at home. If you don’t want to feel out of shape and out of breath right when you start showing up to the gym, think simple. Do some crunches, jumping jacks and whatever else your space allows you to and work up to working out in public.

So now that you know how to show up, think also about WHY you should go. Exercise is good for the mind AND body. If you’re like me and anxiety is the No. 1 reason why you’re not going, that is the No. 1 reason why you should go. It will help you gain confidence, which will tune out a lot of that anxiety. At the gym, you’ll get access to equipment you might not have at home, and that’s why you got the membership in the first place. Staff knowledge will help you learn how to use any equipment that you may not be familiar.

Your gym is a great place for support, motivation, accountability and meeting like-minded people. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just show up. The rest will work itself out!



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