Beat gym anxiety and feel more confident while working out with these simple tips! Take a deep breath, check out these ideas, and get your booty to the gym!
A few months ago my family FINALLY got a gym membership at our local YMCA. After spending months frozen in indecision, we leapt in and haven’t looked back! Hurray for free childcare, active family fun, and endorphins.
One thing I didn’t expect was the gym anxiety that came after having spent the last 5+ years working out in my own home or in a small, semi-private gym. The feeling of awkwardness or anxiety about exercising in public is very real!
Beating Gym Anxiety
“Am I ‘too fat’ for the gym?”
“How do I stop being scared of the gym?”
“I feel so awkward when I workout”
“I’ll look like a total newbie and embarrass myself.”
All these thoughts and fears crowded in so that even after we joined it took us a couple weeks to really get into the routine of working out consistently at the gym. I’m not going to lie, I can still get hung up on what others are thinking or how I’m not in as great shape as I would like. But I focus on these few things to help improve my gym anxiety.
7 Ways to Feel More Confident at the Gym
1. Wear something you feel comfortable and confident in.
If your outfit feels too tight or too baggy or too old or too frumpy or too bouncy (you KNOW what I MEAN), then it’s time to refresh things. Investing in workout clothes that make you feel and look good is money well spent!
2. Take a tour.
Take a tour to feel more comfortable at the gym! When you know where everything is then you’ll be more relaxed and able to focus on your workout. Plus, you won’t be wandering around like a newbie, wondering where the ellipticals are or the hot tub access is.
3. Workout with a trainer or buddy.
Take advantage of the free training session that most gyms offer! Because this session introduces you to new machines and equipment and also gives you a workout routine to follow, you’ll be getting a double dose of help reducing your gym anxiety and increasing your confidence!
If your gym doesn’t provide that option, bring a buddy with you! Whether your friend is a seasoned pro that gives you their fitness tips and tricks OR another newbie who can laugh with you as you figure it all out together — there is power in numbers!
4. Go to classes until you get comfortable.
Most gyms offer a variety of workout classes and they are the perfect place to get your feet wet at the gym. Try to arrive a few minutes early to meet the teacher and get settled in. Yes, the first class may feel awkward or difficult and you may feel lost, but everything gets easier with time!
5. Start where it feels safe and then expand.
The main workout space of our gym is a HUGE room with a ton of workout equipment: treadmills, bikes, stair climbers, ellipticals, nautilus machines, free weights, olympic weights and everything in between. It’s an intimidating space. When we first started my husband and I literally stuck to our “safety zones” of the treadmills and a small free weight area. After a couple weeks there we expanded to the nautilus machines and bikes. Embracing the “wading in to the deep end” approach helped us feel more confident at working out!
6. Remember you are the only one fixated on you.
“Everyone just worries about themselves.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mumbled this under my breath at the gym….
…When I spilled my water by the free weights and had to get a million paper towels to clean it up.
…When I dropped my phone off the treadmill and had to shove the one next to it over to reach it.d
…When I farted in the abs class and just pretended like nothing happened.
What can I say, I provide free entertainment at my gym!!
There is a psychological principle at work here called the spotlight effect. Basically, it is our tendency to over-exaggerate how much our faux-pas are noticed or criticized by others. It feels HUGE to you! But everyone else also has their headphones in, game face on, and is focusing on crushing their workout! (Or worrying about how THEY look, not how you look!)
I have definitely seen some odd behaviors at our gym, but mostly I just shrug it off. The world is full of beautifully, unique people so who am I to judge?
And honestly, if I have bad form or something similar and someone steps to help or correct me, it may be a little embarrassing. But I’d rather have that help and correction than to keep doing something incorrectly and get injured!
7. It takes time
The longer you do something the easier it becomes. Keep going! Even when it’s uncomfortable and you have to fight down those anxious feelings.
Eventually, what is new becomes familiar, if you stick with it. And once you are one of the “regulars” at your gym, don’t forget what it was like to be new and out of place. Always, always show kindness and helpfulness to those who are new!
I hope these 7 ideas for beating gym anxiety will help you feel more comfortable and confident at the gym! While you can absolutely get a great workout at home, I find I have higher focus and intensity at the gym!
And I’m not going to lie, as a mom of three preschool age kiddos, that kid-free hour is GOLDEN to me!
Do you struggle with gym anxiety? What helps you to feel more confident?
P.S. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough and not care what everyone thinks about me taking pictures of me at the gym. Today is not that day. But I promise I go. 😉