Afraid to Workout in Front of Others? 8 Manageable Tips for Reducing Gym Anxiety

Afraid to Workout in Front of Others_ 8 Manageable Tips for Reducing Gym Anxiety
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Working out at a gym can be preferable to working out at home for numerous reasons. At the gym, you have access to a full range of exercise equipment, and since you have to pay for a membership, you may be motivated to go often to get your money’s worth. But if you have gym anxiety due to intimidation of others because of your fitness level or your knowledge on the proper use of the gym equipment available – leaving the comfort of your own home to exercise can be difficult and emotionally painful.

Here are Eight Tips for Reducing Your Gym Anxiety

1. Try Working Out With a Personal Trainer

gym-anxiety-personal-trainer-optSometimes gym anxiety stems from feeling unaccustomed to gym equipment or unfamiliar with a proper workout routine. If this is the case, consider scheduling a few sessions with a personal trainer. Many gyms either have their own trainers or can recommend one.

A personal trainer will show you how to use different machines and walk you through the proper form for bodyweight or dumbbell exercises. They will also help you build a custom workout plan. If you can’t afford a personal trainer, you can teach yourself by using YouTube videos and fitness websites. Make sure you are watching videos that are produced by trusted professional (not just any person producing YouTube videos) to help reduce your risk of injury.

By properly knowing the exercise techniques you want to incorporate into your gym schedule, you will feel more prepared and less intimidated. You will also be more focused on your workouts and your results will be more effective.

2. Bring Your Headphones – Feel the Music

gym-anxiety-bring-headphones-optCreate the ultimate workout playlist filled with your favorite upbeat, peppy songs to lift your mood and to distract you during your gym sessions. Put on your headphones at the start of every workout. Whenever you start to feel anxious, focus on the words of the song that’s playing. Feel the music. Listen to the energy and that is coming from the music and feel the vibes that are flowing through your body. Make a conscious effort to train your brain to think of only your music and your workout while you’re at the gym.

If music isn’t working, try listening to audio books while you work out. Listening to an audiobook requires more focus than music does, which is helpful for blocking out anxious thoughts. Choose stories that will draw your attention, but only allow yourself to listen to them while at the gym.

When you listen to your favorite audiobooks while simultaneously working out, you are being productive by doing two things at once. You are accomplishing more by saving time, which will enable the reward centers in your brain everytime you achieve these small goals. By limiting yourself like this, you’ll find that you will naturally have the motivation to go to the gym and you will be excited to go to your next gym session so you can listen to your next novel and workout.

3. Bring a Friend

gym-anxiety-bring-a-friendGoing to the gym with a friend helps to battle gym anxiety in two ways. First, when you bring a trusted friend with you, you’ll always have someone you can talk to. Having a friend to talk to keeps your mind so busy that you may not even develop anxiety.  When you go to the gym alone and you have no one to talk to, your mind is idle (this is when the self-doubt can kick in). Secondly, having a gym buddy makes it harder to cancel workouts, thus forcing you to go to the gym and working through your anxieties.

If you don’t have anyone to go to the gym with, try signing up for a beginners group fitness class instead. Similarly, these scheduled workouts will be harder to cancel and force you to face your anxieties head-on. Plus, you may meet someone in the class who can become your future gym buddy.

4. Choose Off-Peak Times

gym-anxiety-choose-off-peak-times-optIf you are intimidated by large groups of people, ease yourself from building up gym anxiety by choosing off-peak times for your workouts. Most gyms will be full in the early evening hours and relatively empty in the early mornings and afternoons. However, it can vary from gym to gym, so ask the staff which times to avoid.

By scheduling your workouts during off-peak hours, you won’t have to fight for machines in a crowded gym. You’ll be able to work at your own pace and focus only on your own exercise. You’ll also feel more comfortable when there are fewer people to interact with, and fewer eyes on you.

5. Don’t Compare

gym-anxiety-dont-compareWhen you’re at the gym, try your best to focus on yourself and your own workout, and don’t let your eyes wander. If you notice the person next to you is more fit, doing more reps or running faster than you, you may feel like you don’t belong at the gym and should just go home. This is an untrue, unhealthy thought, and continuing to watch other people’s workouts will only lead to more of these insecurities.

Gyms are designed to accommodate people of all body types and skill levels. Don’t leave because the demons in your head are making you feel less than. Those people at the gym are focusing on their own workouts and they’re not even thinking about you – they’re probably thinking about their own problems.

7. Focus on Your Goals

gym-anxiety-goals-optIf you find yourself feeling overwhelmed at the gym, take a second to remember why you’re there in the first place and what your goals are. Are you trying to lose weight? Gain muscle? Work on your overall health? Make sure you always have a specific goal in mind.

Remind yourself of these goals often. Write them down where you’ll see them every single day. Bring them to mind and read your goals before you even enter the gym and anytime you’re feeling anxious. After your workouts, always write down what you did for that day.

Becuase it can be difficult to remember what days you went to the gym and what workouts you did that specific day, using a fitness planner is a great tool to use to track your workouts and write down your fitness goals. A fitness planner also helps you reflect on what you’ve done from day to day and month to month.

Every time you feel anxious when you’re just thinking about going to the gym, refer to your fitness planner so you can visually see the progress you’ve made since you started your fitness journey. Visually seeing progress can ignite the encouragement you need to take action. Remembering your goals when you get anxious will re-focus your energy on what you want to accomplish and what you need to do to get there.

6. Don’t Get Discouraged

gym-anxiety-discouraged-optThere will be some days where you will have the motivation to workout and go to the gym and other days where you will feel crippled with anxiety and choose to stay home instead. Some days you will see positive results from your workouts, and other days you may see a downward turn.

Don’t get discouraged! This happens. Find the strength to accept where you are at this moment in time and strive to stay consistent with your workout regimen. It’s okay if you miss a day or two. It takes time to implement any new habit into your daily routine. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t give up if you gain a few pounds or if you didn’t go to the gym because you let your anxiety to take over. RE-COMMIT – EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Remember, there was something inside of you that sparked that motivation to go to the gym.

8. Take It Slow

gym-anxiety-take-it-slow-optIf you have severe gym anxiety, don’t expect yourself to jump right into a long and complicated gym routine. Be kind to yourself and take it slow. Every session, increase your time spent at the gym and try to use different machines. Over time, you will build a habit and find that the gym feels much more familiar and comfortable than when you started.

If you have severe gym anxiety, remember that any time you make it through the front doors is a victory. Don’t punish yourself if you have to cut a session short.

Having a gym membership gives you access to all the equipment you need to meet your fitness goals. But if you have anxieties about working out in front of other people, it will take time and hard work before you feel comfortable using your membership. Take it slow and use these eight tips to build up your confidence and step out of your comfort zone towards a healthier you. Remember why you started. DON’T DO IT FOR ANYONE ELSE, DO IT FOR YOU!

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I am a mother who is actively working through anxiety and depression by navigating this complex life through love, gratitude, and compassion towards myself and the world around me. Join me on this spiritual growth journey.

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