Feeling uneasy about going to the gym? It’s ok, you are not alone in feeling that way. I had several clients that felt the same. Well, I am here to let you know, that it is gym intimidation that you are experiencing. Yes, it is a thing and I am going to explain to you how to overcome gym intimidation.
What is gym intimidation?
Gym intimidation is the fear of going to the gym. There are numerous reasons for one may be fearful of going to the gym such as the following:
- Social anxiety
- Do not know how to use the equipment
- Worry about embarrassing themselves
- Lack of confidence
- Type of crowd in the gym
- Bad past experiences
Perhaps one of the above may be why you are experiencing gym intimidation but the good news is I have several ways to help you overcome this issue.
How to overcome gym intimidation?
Explore different gyms
Take advantage of any free trials or day passes different gyms have to offer to scope out the environment. See how you feel at each one and what type of vibe it gives off. For instance, serious lifters hate Planet Fitness while recreational gym-goers tend to like it. You can get a feel for the type of people who use the gym as well the staff and services as well.
Take into consideration the size of the gym as well. Smaller gyms such as community center gyms and onsite gyms at your job will tend to have fewer people, machines, and so forth. All in all, this may be an overall less intimidating setting since they are not your stereotypical gym.
Pick the right time to go
Do not go to the gym during peak times. Peak times are early morning before work, lunchtime, and the evening once people get off of work. More people use the gym at these times. Therefore, if you can find a way to squeeze in a workout between those times there will usually be fewer people around which may help you to feel more comfortable.
Start at home
If you feel completely uncomfortable with going to the gym, start working out at home first and work your way up to going to the gym. Do some workout videos on YouTube or on-demand to later do in the gym once your confidence level rises. You do not have to jump right in, ease your way into the gym. Your first step may just be working out at home with a set of dumbbells.
Knowledge is power, my friend. Read some books or articles on fitness. This is the route I took before I got started working out in the gym. I used to go to Barnes and Noble, and Borders sitting for hours reading magazines and books on fitness. I also used to read the fitness and health magazines in the grocery store while my mom shopped. I just kept reading as much as I could. By the way please do not forget about your local and online libraries, they are a great source as well to educate yourself. Amazon Kindle is another option for those of you who prefer to be paperless for reading. Below are a few books I recommend that you read.
Get a trainer
Gyms do not have trainers for no reason. They are there to train and assist you, a good one will not mind helping you out some. While at the same time, do not keep asking the trainer questions over and over trying to build yourself a routine. They are trying to make a living. Their time is valuable as well. Do not abuse their kindness and willingness to help you.
If you do not feel comfortable with the trainers at the gym, do not worry. There are trainers online, such as myself that can assist you as well to help acclimate you to the gym environment, helping you to feel more confident and knowledgeable.
Take a class
Sign up for a class but a class that is appropriate for your fitness level. Ask the instructor or a staff member what class they recommend for you and a description of the class. In a class, you can kind of blend in with everyone if there is a fair amount of participants. Do not worry, more than likely there will be other first-timers in there as well messing up but the whole point is to go in and learn. Besides, a good instructor will help to make you feel comfortable. Sometimes other class participants may encourage you, helping you feel at ease.
Bring someone along
Take a friend to the gym that has more experience than you. They can support and help guide you so you do not feel alone or lost. Besides, the chance of you sticking to your goal of going to the gym regularly has a better chance when done with someone or a group. It provides a sense of accountability despite your fear.
Find a private area in the gym
When you go to the gym, consider going to a more secluded area of the gym where there are not many people but safe. This could be an exercise room or studio area. Take some equipment in there from the main area if allowed and workout there.
Listen to music
Get yourself a quality pair of headphones and workout to some music. The music can help to block out distractions around you and put you in the zone. Now, a word of caution, do not be so zoned out that you have no clue of your surroundings. An emergency may occur and you may need to escape. It would be nice to know what is going on.
Sign for an orientation
Most gyms offer fitness orientations for new members or per request. Usually, these orientations include a tour of the facility, how to use pieces of equipment, assessment, and/or consultation to help you feel more comfortable with the gym and what it has to offer. Depending on the gym, these fitness orientations may be free or charge a fee but it is worth it.
Focus on yourself
Do not be too concerned with what someone else is doing in the gym. Focus on yourself for the most part. Remember you are there for you, so make it all about you. Getting caught in what others are doing in the gym can discourage you if you do not have the right mindset. This is an individual journey, not a race to compete or compare yourself against others at this point. Focus on being the best version of yourself. As I always tell people, you have no clue what others have done to get the physique they have, it may be illegal or something you are not willing to do.
Have a plan
Have a workout in plan in place so that you are not going into the gym lost and doing random things. I suggest you have it written down in a journal or on your phone. The plan does not have to be super complex, keep it simple. Have a warm-up, a workout consisting of a few exercises with the rep and set scheme, and a cooldown. Just focus on following your workout plan for the session and nothing else. This will help you stay focused on and only concerned with yourself.
Allow yourself time to adjust
As with anything in life when adjusting, give yourself some time. Do not bail out right away unless it is something really alarming, threatening your safety or health. You can start off by going to the gym for 20-minute workout sessions or going to the gym once or twice a week initially. Then over time, increase the length of your workout or times you go to the gym for the week. There is no rush, take baby steps.
It is ok to have feelings, we have them for a reason. The feeling of fear is natural but we must not let it control us and stand in our way. The gym is nothing to fear, it is something that you can benefit from greatly once you get used to it. You can reap many health benefits, gain new friends and knowledge in the process.
After reading this, I hope your intimidation of the gym has begun to fade and that you feel more confident in going. Little by little, apply the above on how to overcome gym intimidation to conquer your fear.
Be Healthy, Be Balanced, Be You