How do you feel when you step into the gym?
Gym anxiety, is the gym as frightening as we think?
The average gym can be a scary place for anyone. No matter your age, size or shape. The typically low ceilings and sea of metal might strike fear into many eyes.
Here I am going to share with you the experiences I have found with today’s gyms.
The common problem.
When I joined the gym many years ago I faced the problems that new members and the seasoned gym goer may face. The constant feeling of thinking everyone is judging you. The pea-cocking males that parade around the free weights. Each fighting for alpha male status. The intimidation of the equipment alone. Contraptions that look like they are built for a horror movie, let alone for me to try and improve my health. Then the fact that I had no idea of what I was supposed to be doing. With the expectation that a twenty minute tour of the gym when I signed up was meant to give me the body I was after and prevent me from injuring myself.
So how do you tackle each of these problems and how do you overcome the feeling of being judged?
The most simple answer is that the majority of the time this feeling is an illusion. In reality your fellow members fall into two categories. One is that these people are in the exact same boat as yourself. The other is that they will be far too absorbed in their own bodies to even give anyone else a second glance.
But what about the school of males fighting for top dog status?
Almost every gym has their share of testosterone fueled males. For a young, skinny boy like myself, they can be a huge obstacle. However, from my own experience I have found that they often have a bigger bark than they do bite. Usually happy to advise you or join you in order to make you feel more comfortable. These people share the mantra that “even Mr. Olympia had to start somewhere” so use them instead of avoiding them. This leaves a shaving of people who will go to gyms to try and feed their own ego. These people are often scared easily and probably more self conscious than yourself. The trick is to stand your ground. If the guy next to you is having to compete with you. He is most likely in admiration. Leave him to his ego lifts, it will not take him long to injure himself.
Once you take out the element of worrying about other people in the gym. It is time to focus on yourself. The major key is to make the commitment to yourself and stick to it. This where you knuckle down and really drive home the results you want.
“I am still a little anxious of the other people in the gym. I also still have no idea what I am supposed to be doing.”
Still a massive obstacle on our journey to mastering the gym. The game changer for myself was to find a gym buddy. Someone who you could share the experience with. Find a friend, a family member or even someone you meet at the gym. This not only takes the pressure off but also boosts your motivation and reduces your rest time. It also means that if you miss the gym you are not only letting yourself down but also your partner. You will need to find the right fit in order to get the most out of each other. Ideally someone who is both on the same fitness level and is just as motivated towards their goals as you. This firstly pushes you to your goals quicker and also eliminates the “social” aspect that seems to appear. If you want a chat go to a coffee shop.
Preparation is key.
The second game changer and something that all good personal trainers, fitness influencers and gym veterans should be advocating. Is to have a plan. Do your research before stepping foot inside the gym. Take an hour out of your week and tell yourself which day you are going to do what at the gym. Be consistent, stick to your commitment.
A large factor to gym anxiety is the fear of uncertainty. Lack of knowledge will cause uncertainty because you have no idea what you are doing. If your knowledge, like most of us, starts of as limited then the first step is to find a reliable source for some advice. Vary your training as there are a universe of methods out there. What might work for one person may not necessarily work for you. The second step is to then follow through with your plan. Smash it out of the park. Start small at first and do the things you are confident with. Then slowly try new things within your workout.
Keep pushing through.
Do not expect these changes to occur overnight. Do not get disheartened if you do not see results after just a few weeks. Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint. Always trust the process. Next thing you know six months of training with your friend, experimenting new techniques and meeting new people will have passed. The most important trick to overcoming gym anxiety is increasing your exposure. The more you go the more confident you will become, and the more confident you become the more progress you will make. So make yourself your competition and get out there and dominate your goals.
So we have found out the most popular problems. Problems that are faced by all of us. Ones that should not be endured alone. From the people in the gym to the knowledge needed, they are all solvable. As long as you do your homework, make the necessary plans. There is no reason why you cannot achieve the body that you want and feel comfortable doing so.