Got Gym Anxiety? Try This Advice From Brit And Katie
You know what’s a great recipe for anxiety? Being in a new environment where you’re not quite sure what you’re doing. Oh, and you’re surrounded by strangers or people who seem competent and confident when you feel dazed and confused. It’s enough to make anyone sweat, and not in a good way.
Unfortunately for many people, this is a common feeling when going to the gym, whether it’s your first time setting foot on the premises, you’re trying a new space, are coming back after a break or even if you’re a seasoned regular. Gym anxiety is a completely normal feeling, so first of all - don’t beat yourself up about it. Know that every gym-goer feels or has felt the same way and that the feeling will go away over time.
But what if your gym anxiety is preventing you from even starting a membership, walking through the door or completing your workout? What we all really want to know is how to get over gym anxiety. Luckily, Sweat Trainers Britany Williams and Katie Martin have exactly the wisdom we’re looking for.
“Going to the gym can be a not-so-fun experience for some,” says Katie. “For a lot of people, they are completely out of their comfort zone and are quite vulnerable, but there are definitely some tips and tricks to get around this and ensure that the gym feels like a safe place and more importantly, somewhere you look forward to going to.”
Take a mate or ask for some help
Going to the gym with a friend is one of Katie’s top recommendations to make your experience more comfortable and enjoyable.
“I always feel better going to a new class or gym with a friend,” she says. If you’re both new, you can get a staff tour, ask questions and explore the space together, or if your workout buddy is a seasoned gym-goer, they can show you the ropes and ease your nerves.
Of course, not everyone will have a friend who is keen to hit the gym, so don’t hesitate to ask staff members for help and remember that however nervous, self-conscious or out of your comfort zone you might be feeling, most people in the gym feel the exact same way or have in the past.
“And remember, 99% of people at the gym are too concerned about themselves to even worry about people around them,” adds Katie.
Foolproof yourself with a plan
“My advice to get past gym anxiety is to first and foremost have a general plan before you even arrive at the gym. Knowing what exercises you want to do and what equipment you need will help you feel more confident when you arrive,” says Brit, and Katie wholeheartedly agrees.
If you’re following a Sweat program, this could mean opening the app as you’re getting dressed to choose a workout, preview the exercises and see what equipment you’ll need. Seen an exercise you don’t know how to perform or a piece of equipment you’re not sure how to use? Either click play on the exercise to watch a video tutorial, or wait until you get to the gym to ask a staff member.
“Never be afraid to ask!” says Brit. “Having someone show you the ropes can quickly put the anxiety to ease.”
If it’s your first time in the gym, Katie always recommends asking for a tour from a staff member so you can feel confident enough to plan your workout knowing exactly where everything is, such as the bathrooms, lockers, water taps, equipment and different exercise areas.
Embrace your comfort zone
There’s a time for trying new equipment, challenging yourself with unfamiliar exercises or working out in a space where lots of people can see you, but if gym anxiety is creeping in, today might not be the best day. When your nerves are heightened, do what you can to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
“Know that it’s okay to roll out your mat in the corner or a quiet area, take a set of dumbbells and do a workout away from any mirrors or people,” says Brit.
“When I first started working out at the gym, I hated watching myself and felt like other people were always watching me (which by the way, they’re not!), so I’d always find a quiet spot to myself. Having a comfortable and enjoyable gym experience looks different for everyone, and finding a space and a routine that makes you feel safe and supported is key, especially at the beginning.”
Katie’s favourite way of easing into it or dealing with any feelings of overwhelm is to hop straight on a treadmill and go for a 5-10 minute walk.
“This can often be enough to get your blood flowing and get you in the right headspace before your workout. It can also give you time to suss out the space, what equipment is available and if you want or need to tweak the workout you planned.”
The feeling won’t last forever
Sure, your nerves might return on days when you’re tackling a new exercise, heavier weights or are struggling to find free equipment or space, but generally, your gym anxiety will dissipate over time as you get used to the environment, equipment and people around you.
This means it’s just as important to be kind and considerate to others once you’re feeling more confident.
“While it can be really intimidating to see someone lifting a super heavy deadlift and assume they’re judging you and your small weights, please know that they get it. They understand the feeling and were once in your shoes. Gyms are amazing places where people change and grow, not just physically but mentally, too. The more you realise that, the more you realise everyone there has a common goal!” says Brit.
You’ll soon look back and think, what was I so nervous about?
Your first few times in the gym might not feel fun or easy, but that’s a natural part of trying something new. You’ll soon be walking in the door without a second thought! Until then, keep these tips in your back pocket to make your fitness journey that little bit more comfortable.
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.