Walking into the gym is a different experience for everyone.
Some feel at ease when they cross the threshold—these are the people who tend to see fitness as a form of self-care and the gym a temple in which to grow (both physically and mentally).
Others feel pumped up as they enter, fueled by adrenaline (and maybe a little bit of pre-workout) and ready to accept the challenge of crushing a new personal record.
While these positive connotations with the gym are great, they aren’t universal. Some enter the gym and feel nervous, self-conscious, embarrassed, and judged. We refer to this as gym anxiety, today we’re discussing what causes it and what you can do to help it before your next workout.
What Causes Gym Anxiety?
At the core of gym anxiety is a feeling akin to social anxiety—we feel nervous when we don’t completely fit into or feel comfortable in a given social setting. Hollywood has embedded a culture of intimidatingly masculine and adrenaline-pumped buff guys into the fitness zeitgeist. This is why anyone outside of this traditional image (which is to say, most of us) may feel out of place in the gym.
We believe that anyone can be healthy in any size, any gender, any identity, and in any body. But getting that into our heads is easier said than done. Finding the confidence to be yourself and find comfort in your own skin at the gym might take a bit of work for you, but it can be done.
Here are some gym anxiety tips that can help you push through so you can access a big part of your physical health.
Gym Anxiety Tips
Have a Plan
Walking into a gym without a plan can leave us with a lot of uncertainty; wandering around and asking yourself what you can and should be doing is certainly a stressful experience.
Knowledge is power, and with power comes confidence. Having a gym plan ready to go ahead of time removes gym uncertainty and empowers us to move swiftly throughout your workout. An agenda might also help you stay on track to accomplish your fitness goals faster. Having a plan ahead of time allows us to map out before we arrive exactly where we need to be in the gym and what equipment we will need. Sometimes the difference between gym anxiety and ease is feeling a sense of purpose. Having a plan might be your magic key.
If you’re unsure of what you’re going to do in the gym, we’ve got a solution—iChuze fitness is a virtual gym experience that allows you to work with our trainers. We recommend taking a look at some of the videos you’ll find there and using them to map out your plan. Bringing your trainer with you in your pocket is a great way to ease the anxiety of not knowing what to do.
Claim Your Space
Before you leave your car to walk into the gym, do a quick deep breathing exercise, look at yourself in the mirror and, out loud, say, “you belong here.” Does this feel silly at first? Yes. Does it really help? Also, yes.
A huge component of the gym is the idea of space. As we move through a limited amount of equipment and square footage, we’re hyper-aware of how much space we occupy, who dominates that space, and who is vying for the space we are occupying at any given time. When we’re waiting for our turn on a machine when someone takes a bench you had stepped away from, when we’re in line to get a drink of water, all of our thoughts are occupied by this idea of space.
Here’s the thing—the gym belongs to everyone.
Being stronger or fitter or thinner than someone else does not make your space needs more important than someone else’s. Being a so-called “gym rat” who spends hours a day at the gym does not make your space needs more valuable than someone who is entering the gym for the very first time. It’s important to be courteous at the gym and share the space, and nobody has the right to hog equipment and make others feel excluded.
Do Your Thing
We’ve got a fitness world secret to share with you. Are you ready?
For the most part, nobody is paying attention to you in the gym. Like you, most people are only hyper-aware of themself.
We’ll repeat that: 99% of the time, nobody cares about what you’re doing at the gym.
Going to the gym is ultimately a very personal experience; lifting weights or walking up a stair machine is exhausting and takes up all of our energy and attention as we do them. So when you’re nervous about trying something new, try to remind yourself that nobody is paying attention to you. It’s also important to stop comparing yourself to others and getting into your zone and your groove is a great way to do that. Blast your favorite music, tune out the rest of the world, and do what you came to the gym to do.
We will say that this rule goes for almost everyone. The only people who don’t belong in the gym are those who go there just to stare at and judge others. If someone ever makes you feel uncomfortable or harassed in the gym, seek out a team member for some assistance. It is our job to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Work Your Way Up
Another common cause of gym anxiety is a lack of confidence in how we’re working out.
If you’re completely new to the gym and don’t have a strong grip on where to begin, no need to fear, group fitness is here!
Rather than printing an online workout to do alone in the gym, group fitness is a great starting point to learn proper form and lay a strong fitness foundation for yourself. We actually encourage this as a first step because doing things on your own with no instruction for the very first time runs a high risk of injury, which you definitely want to prevent.
We have teams of trained professionals to guide you through a wide variety of workouts. If you’re hoping to move from a group class to an individual approach, we recommend classes like Body Pump, Tone and Sculpt, and Boot Camp so you can familiarize yourself with the names and correct forms for movements you’ll see in lots of workouts. And with thirty-two locations across the southwest United States, your local Chuze is only a short drive away! When you feel ready, we are here for you.