The time has come where big name gyms and fitness studios are reopening (here in Philadelphia) so I thought this was a perfect time to talk about gym anxiety. Working out in front of other people can be extremely intimidating. We are so in our heads thinking about what we’re doing, if we’re doing it right, if someone else is judging us and so on and so forth that it can keep us from enjoying our workout, or worse… stop us from even going.
A few weeks ago, my friend and I were going to do a workout together outside and she was telling me not to judge her, she’s starting out and isn’t very good. I reassured her and then realized I used to feel the same exact way. AND THEN I realized that if we both felt that way when we started our fitness journey, others probably did too. Although we weren’t going to a gym, she feels this way there as well, making it the perfect case of gym anxiety.
Which led me here, writing about it to help you get past those fears so you can start working towards your goals. In the past two years, I have grown and am so thankful that I didn’t let the fear stop me. When I first started my gym anxiety was so bad, I just didn’t go. The only reason I tried a spin class was because I told myself “the room is dark, no one can see you”. I am not perfect or completely passed the fear either though. If you asked me what gym I went to, I would tell you my little apartment gym. Not the huge gym offered by my college. Why? There are too many scary boys there. Yes that is exactly what I would say. So even though I am not perfect, I’m getting better, and I’m here to help you too!
To begin let’s tackle some common fears. These fears are lies, remember that.
- Everybody is staring at me.
- I’m not doing this right, they’re going to judge me.
- What if I can’t figure out how to work the equipment/where to go?
- They probably think I’m fat.
- I am fat and they are judging me that I’m here and look this way.
Those all probably sound familiar… because I’m pretty sure we all think that when we start. Let me first off say, these are not true. Other people don’t think that way when at the gym. Even if they do, they are never going to say anything to you. That is so much time out of their day that they won’t care to spend (this was a recent life lesson someone pointed out to me in a different aspect of my life. It was like a lightbulb, because here I am basically preaching this to my friend about fitness, yet I needed someone else to say it to me to understand myself in a different context. I’m growing people)
Now I could leave it here, but that does nothing to benefit you. Although I do hope reading that helps a bit. I am going to go through each of those lies and tell you what is most likely happening. That way if it pops into your head on the way or when you arrive, you can tell the gym anxiety to hit the road.
Everybody is staring at me.
Nope. No they are not. Here is what most likely is happening. You are worried that because you are new around here, that everyone around you will notice. You will stick out like a sore thumb. Whether this is a gym or a fitness studio, the reality is no one is going to notice. Except maybe the lady who checks you in at the front desk and says “Welcome to your first Class” or the guy who signs you up with your shiny new gym pass. Past that, no one is going to know. HUNDREDS of people go to the gym everyday, HUNDREDS of people go to that studio and you are only one of them. If you’re wearing the proper athletic clothing, you blend in.
IF you do catch someone staring, you are convinced, you just made awkward eye contact, it wasn’t because they’re judging you. They just finished a set, they’re tired, they want to go home and now staring into space before they start again and you just so happened to be in their line of sight. Not intentional. And if they ARE staring at you, they probably like your outfit, wanna see what exercises you’re doing (I love seeing what other people at the gym do because I’m weird and find it interesting that Sally trains legs on Thursday yet I train shoulders… I’m so odd) or they simply think you’re hot (The number one reason I stare, not gonna lie).
Finally, another reason they may be staring is simply because you inspire them. I always focus on someone in a class that is doing so well because they become my lead for the day and I want to be as good as they are. #inspiration
I’m not doing this right, they’re going to judge me.
Again nope. Not true. Let’s be honest. Everyone feels that the world revolves around them. Just like you’re in your head, they probably are too. Whether that means they’re having gym anxiety or Jeff over at the squat rack is secretly jamming out to Taylor Swift and singing along, we may never know. When I’m in a class, besides the one person I choose to follow sometimes, I forget there are other people around me. I am bee boppin to the songs playing in my head, focused on the exercises I’m doing and most importantly focusing on trying not to die. We go to the gym for ourselves and in that state everyone else simply disappears.
Even in the off chance, someone notices you doing an exercise, and by chance you are doing it wrong, 2 things are going to happen. 1) they aren’t going to do anything or 2) They’re going to come over and offer to help you because they are nice.
What if I can’t figure out how to work the equipment or where to go?
Honestly one of my biggest fears I had. Yet, I always managed to figure it out. Equipment has little printed instructions with pictures most of the time and figuring out where to go is pretty easy. The gyms are super open, and studio’s always provide you with a little tour when you get there! It will be ok, I promise. And like I mentioned above, if someone notices you struggling, they won’t say anything or be nice and offer to help.
They probably think I’m fat.
Please refer to lie number one. No one notices you, no one cares. Everyone at the gym is there to better themselves. They won’t judge you for being there either. EVERYONE STARTS SOMEWHERE. Maybe Becky on the bike used to be 300 pounds and now she rocks a 6 pack, we don’t know. But she started somewhere and you’re starting here. If anyone has any thoughts at all, it will be “he/she is hot”, “wow I like her outfit” “good for them for bettering themselves”, or “I’m starving and want to go home.” (A very common thought of mine)
I am fat and they are judging me that I’m here and look this way.
Please refer to the lie above for the truth.
I honestly feel that these are the top 5 common fears we face when starting out. And know the fear is a lie. Your mind is trying to protect you from getting hurt because it doesn’t know what will happen when we try something new. Well I just told you what will happen so tell the fear to get lost. The gym should not be a scary place. It should be the place you bond with your friends or spouse, or where you go an hour a day to focus on you.
One last truth:
You are someone’s goal. No matter where you are in your journey, someone is always going to look at you as their inspiration.
Adios gym anxiety.
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At Home Gym: Equipment you need (if you’re still not ready for the real deal)