How to overcome gym anxiety, according to a fitness expert

Let’s face it, how many times have you set “getting fit” as your goal or New Year’s resolution only to falter when it’s time to actually get to the gym? There’s something about the gym with the fancy-looking machines and impossibly fit people flitting about that makes it so intimidating, especially for those who have never stepped foot into the gym.

We totally understand that sentiment and we are here to help make 2020 the year you waltz into a gym with confidence! We have also engaged help from an expert in the fitness field to give you tips on how to overcome this all too common gym anxiety. A certified professional personal trainer with more than 20 years of experience, Tommy is currently the Head of Fitness Education at True Group. So read on to find out what Tommy has to share!

Tackle your anxiety at the root

It’s important to figure out why the thought of going to the gym intimidates you so much. Is it the unfamiliarity with how the machines work? The insecurity of being around people way fitter than you are? Are you afraid of being judged? Or are you nervous about the idea of working out itself? Whatever it is, getting to the root of why the gym is a source of anxiety for you will allow you to tackle it more effectively.

If your anxiety stems from the fear of the unknown, as you don’t know what to expect at the gym, try to be as prepared as possible so you will be less anxious about unexpected circumstances.

Set your goals

There are many reasons people go to the gym. It could be to lose weight, get stronger, be healthier or look better. Whatever it is, knowing why you want to work out will make going to the gym less of something you have to do, and more of something you want to do for yourself.

A mistake beginners tend to make, according to Tommy, that can make going to the gym such an intimidating experience is setting unrealistic fitness goals. Having too high expectations going in will make you fixate on the end result and leave no room for you to explore all the available exercises and workout plans.

Instead, Tommy’s advice is to keep your goals manageable and measurable, and plan how you can achieve those goals over a fixed period of time to keep yourself accountable.

Choose the right gym

Sometimes the gym itself can be the source of your reluctance and lack of motivation. Too far. Too crowded. Doesn’t have the machines you need. There are so many ways a gym could be the wrong fit for you. This is why it’s important to do your research and choose the right gym that sufficiently facilitates your workout.

Before committing to a gym membership, you can visit the place to have a taste of what it offers, not just the machines but also the lockers and bathrooms.You can also ask a gym staff to bring you around and show you the facilities. Visiting the gym will also help you familiarise yourself with the route so that your actual first day can go easier.

Have various backup exercises

After touring the gym and having an idea of the machines available, you can keep a mental list of some backup exercises you can do in case the machine you had in mind is taken up by someone else. Having backup options will help ease your nerves and also save you time waiting for your turn on the machine.

Choose a workout that fits you

Different workouts will help you achieve different goals, so it’s important that you choose the right ones that serve your purpose, and more importantly, ones that get you excited to go for. A workout routine that you (not so) secretly hate only gives you more incentive to skip it and stay home.

However, choosing the right workouts is easier said than done. The sheer number of workouts and classes, from weight training to yoga to crossfit, can seriously confuse those who are new to the fitness world. When asked about this, Tommy encourages beginners to be open to trying out a variety of workouts until you find one that works for you and will help you reach your goals.

Take it easy

Expecting to smash out an intense workout on your first day at the gym can put additional pressure on yourself. If you are a total beginner, or haven’t been working out for a long time, it’s important to get familiarised with the machines and make sure to get your techniques down. Not only will this help you get maximum results from your workout, but also prevent injuries from misuse of machines or improper techniques.

So take it easy and use your first day as a chance to try out everything the gym has to offer in terms of facilities and machines rather than jumping right into an intense workout.

Engage a personal trainer

Having (and paying) for a personal trainer can be an effective motivator to go to the gym. According to Tommy, a personal trainer can provide customised programmes that tailor to your goals and give you personalised attention to help keep you on track. Having a personal trainer to orientate you with the equipments will also help you feel more confident at the gym.

Sign up for a race

If what you are lacking is just that last kick to get you out of the door and into the gym, consider signing up for a sport competition that requires you to train for it. A marathon or a race are some good examples as the training progress for these competitions is quantifiable and measurable. If your lap times aren’t good enough, you know you will need to continue training. This will serve as an external motivator that forces you to exercise and stay focused even when you don’t feel like it.

Get a workout buddy

There is strength in number and you can definitely do with a gym buddy to motivate you to work out. Knowing your friend is waiting for you at the gym makes the thought of getting out the door that much less dreadful.

Having someone to chat with in between sets will also help you feel more comfortable and less self-aware at the gym. As long as you don’t get distracted and forget about the workouts in favour of gossips, that is.

Stop comparing yourself to others

When we think about the gym, we often picture people with enviable figures going about their routine with ease. Compare that with your own fitness level and it’s easy to throw in the towel and cancel that gym membership right away.

But remember, those fitness pros started as beginners. They were once where you are right now, and it’s not fair to yourself to compare your fitness journey to theirs. But the good news is, with time and dedication, you can get to where they are. And if that isn’t the best motivator to keep up with your gym routine, we don’t know what is!