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Gymtimidation: What are They and How Can You Avoid Them?

6 Mins read

Gymtimidation is real – and it’s a serious problem. 

The gym can be an amazing place. It’s packed full of equipment to help you get fit. Besides that, it comes with access to professional trainers who can guide you towards your ideal body

The only problem? Gyms can be pretty daunting too.

It seems like 90% of the people you encounter by the treadmill are picture-perfect fitness enthusiasts with chiselled abs and tiny waists. When we’re already hitting the gym because we’re unhappy with some part of our body, it’s difficult not to feel overwhelmed. 

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome gymtimidation. 

Today, we’re going to guide you through the basics of gymtimidations, and how you can stop them from draining your motivation. 

What is Gymtimidation?

“Gymtimidation” is a word used to refer to the feeling of dread, fear, or general intimidation we feel when going to the gym. Sometimes, you’re hit by a feeling of gymtimidation so intense that you can’t even make the first step in signing up for your membership. Other times, you find yourself paying for the monthly fee and standing frozen outside of the door each week.

Some people feel gymtimidation more than others. One survey from Cosmo Body UK found twice as many women experience the issue compared to men. Ladies are more likely to feel the confidence crash for a range of reasons:

  • 44% said they were worried about lifting weights.
  • 14% blamed the glances of male gymgoers for their anxiety
  • 97% of women said they were concerned about being naked in the locker room

While anxiety is a very real issue for many of us, gymtimidation shouldn’t get the best of you! Giving in to this feeling means you’re less likely to reach your health and fitness goals. 

Overcome Gymtimidation: Focusing on You

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So, how can you overcome gymtimidation once and for all?

The first step is to get an iron-clad plan in place. 

When you know exactly what you’re doing and why, it’s much easier to stay focused on your targets. You stop worrying about people around you and they start to fade away. Much of the stress of the gym comes from not knowing how to start with various exercises, so why struggle with the initial fumble?

Decide what you want to accomplish with your routine and find out what you need to do to get there. For instance, if you’re looking to lose fat and tone up, you might focus on building muscle and reducing calories. Taking a look at your genes will quickly demonstrate where you can make the most significant changes to your routine.

When you’ve taken the time to study your DNA and figure out what’s going to work best for you, it’s easy to walk into that weight room feeling confident. Your confidence will increase as you know exactly what kind of exercises are going to drive results. You’re not just blindly following what you’ve seen on YouTube. 

Prep for a Confident Gym Experience

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  • Being well prepared: Know what to eat and drink before your gym experience, so you feel energetic and well-prepared. Make sure you bring water with you to hydrate yourself too. You don’t want to be the person left panting at the side of the treadmill because you haven’t planned for re-hydration. 
  • Practising at home: With a little luck, you’ve been practising getting fit and healthy at home with some handy online videos and guides. If so, you can use the same strategy to prepare for your time at the gym. If you’re worried about using weights and other machinery, watch videos to get an idea of how to use them first. There are plenty of introductory videos on Youtube!
  • Starting slow: You don’t have to walk into the gym and start performing some of the toughest exercises around. Start with machines and routines you feel comfortable with. As your confidence grows, you can begin to branch out. 

Look for Ways to Boost Your Confidence

woman wearing white headphones

Gymtimidation thrives on low self-esteem. 

Your job is to fight back against that worry with all the confidence you can muster. The great news is that there’s no single way to do this. You can start by getting a good night’s sleep, which should make you feel more energetic and self-assured immediately. 

Next, create a playlist you can listen to and pump yourself up with. Putting those earbuds in and enjoying some tunes stops you from focusing so heavily on the people around you. 

When it comes to choosing gym attire, try not to get too bogged down on what you think you “should” wear. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is make yourself feel comfortable. 

If you’re too worried about what you’re wearing, you’re not going to be focused on crushing your workout. Check that your leggings don’t fall down when you’re squatting. Try to go for a good balance of cute and practical. 

Since more people means more to worry about for most gymtimidation sufferers, check when your gym’s “peak” hours are before you go. Going outside of the times when the location is most likely to be busy will save you a lot of excess stress. 

Give Yourself Extra Support

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Once you’re at the gym and you’ve got that extra confidence boost going, try to maintain it. 

Don’t go to the gym with the aim of outshining everyone there. Kick things off with a pretty simple workout program. Focus on reaching goals that are within your limits (but still challenging enough to push you a little). The thrill of achieving these little wins will give you a massive motivation boost.

Another way to feel more supported is to take a friend. If you’ve ever tried to boost your weight loss with diet and exercise before, you’ll know it’s a tough task to accomplish alone. Having your friend along with you immediately gives you someone on your side. 

You’re less worried about what other might people may think or say to you, because you know you have your pal to back you up. Plus, having your friend with you at the gym is a great way to motivate you to keep going. If you fail to turn up, you’re not just letting yourself down, you’re disappointing your friend too. 

If you and your friend feel particularly nervous about getting started, you can also look into signing up for a class. Classes are a little less intimidating than just “going to the gym” because you’re working out alongside other learners. Everyone in the room is going to be struggling with you.

Gym classes are also a great opportunity to make some friends, so you feel like you have even more backup whenever you visit. The more friends you make, the less gymtimidation will get the best of you. 

Try an Alternative

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If, despite everything, you just can’t push yourself to visit the gym yet, don’t worry. 

One positive thing to emerge from the confusion of the last couple of years is there are now more ways to get fit than ever before. You can sign up for a virtual workout class if you’re feeling uncomfortable about going to the gym straight away. 

Virtual classes can help you to get over some of your fears about working out in public, particularly if you’re exercising with people over video chat. You get the comfort of your own home, combined with the ability to experience what a “group” exercise session might be like. 

Alternatively, you could skip the gym entirely and look for other ways to boost your fitness. Going for runs around your local town, hiking, and cycling are all excellent ways to improve your physical health. If you want to improve your strength and build muscle, bodyweight exercises are a fantastic option. It’s also pretty cheap to get weights at home. 

Join an outdoor running group, or get involved in a sport with your friends, like football or tennis. There’s no limit to what you can try out. Anything that gets you active is going to benefit your health. 

Gymtimidations Can’t Control You

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The best way to overcome the stress of gymtimidation is to remind yourself of why you’re at the gym in the first place. You’re here because you want to improve yourself, and anyone who doesn’t respect and applaud that really isn’t worth your time. Keeping your vision in mind and remembering that you’re doing this for yourself – not anyone else – is important. 

It’s also worth remembering that most people probably aren’t aware of you as you think. Ultimately, most of the people you encounter at the gym are going to be too focused on their own goals and self-esteem issues to worry about you. 

Unless you’re intentionally causing a spectacle by throwing equipment around, you probably won’t draw anyone’s eye for longer than a second or two. 

Everyone starts somewhere, and the people around you probably don’t expect you to be a pro. Give yourself a break and take the time to learn. 

You’ve got this. 

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The editorial team behind CircleMagazine, dedicated to bringing you bite-size health tips, real-life health stories and the latest genetic-related findings at this digital health hub.
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