Those that are new to the gym or starting to work out again may have something that is holding them back from actually going to the gym... anxiety! Gym anxiety is a real thing that happens to nearly everyone, even those who have been going to the gym for a long time.
It can happen for many reasons. Some may feel anxious due to their current fitness levels compared to others, or they're afraid of what others think about their appearance, or they just don't know how to use the gym equipment or have a plan! Whatever the reason is, it's important to remember that it is all in your mind. However, you don't want your mind to overpower you and stop you from hitting the gym because working out can actually help ease your anxiety and make you feel better.
If you find yourself struggling with gym anxiety, we're here to help! Here are tips on how to get over gym anxiety so you can overcome it and hit the gym with confidence 💪
Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
This might be easier said than done, but the first thing you should do is turn your negative thoughts into positive ones! Negative thoughts are inevitable for some, especially anyone suffering from anxiety disorders. However, these thoughts can negatively impact your life! They'll lower your self-esteem and stop you from doing things you love or want to try - like working out.
To help you overcome negative thoughts, here are a few examples of common ones and how to turn them into positive ones...
"I don't know what I'm doing, I'm going to look silly"
Reframe this negative thought by saying to yourself, "I'm trying something new and doing my best." It also helps to remember that everyone starts somewhere! That advanced gym-goer you see lifting heavy and with confidence was once you. At one point they didn't know what they were doing either. So, who cares if you're new to the gym? You're doing your best, that's all that matters!
"This workout is too difficult, I don't think I can get through it"
Exercise is challenging, especially at first. But at the end of your workout, you'll feel so good from your workout and from completing something challenging! A good way to reframe this thought is by thinking, "I can do this. Keep pushing through and do my best." Aside from that, you can also scale back on the intensity so you can finish your workout successfully.
“Everyone is probably staring at me”
So many people have this fear when stepping into the gym, but rest assured, no one is actually looking at you! That's just your mind playing games with you. When this thought comes into your head, stop and take a look around the gym. You'll notice how focused the other gym goers are on their workout, not you. So, remind yourself, everyone's focused on themselves.
Do your research beforehand
A lot of anxiety stems from the unknown. If you feel uneasy because you're unsure of what to expect at the gym, or don't know how to use the machines – do some research and take a tour!
Do some research on the different workout machines at the gym and how to use them. For example, if you're interested in using the leg press, look into how to use it. This goes for any machine you're interested in. You can also ask for a guided tour of the gym so you can get familiar with the layout. But if you don't feel comfortable doing that look up the gym you're interested in and look through the pictures! That way when you go for your first workout you won't feel lost.
Create a workout plan before going in
This one goes hand-in-hand with doing your research – create a plan! Do your research on the type of exercise you want to do, like weight lifting, set your fitness goals, and create a workout plan. Having a workout plan before even going to the gym will ensure you know exactly what you're going to do at the gym. This will also help overcome dealing with embarrassment or self-consciousness because you don't know what you're doing.
So, research how to create a workout plan and start planning everything out. Plan everything from the days you'll be working out to the exercises you will be doing!
Avoid peak gym hours
The symptoms of anxiety can be heightened when thinking about all the people going to the gym at the same time as you. Even if you try to reframe your thoughts to be positive, social anxiety can get the best of you.
In this case, try to avoid the gym during peak hours. Typically, peak hours are after work 5-7 p.m., and on weekends in the mornings, but if you want to make sure you avoid these hours then ask the gym staff what time is their least busy and plan your workouts around that time! This will ease your anxiety of being around a crowd and avoid having to adjust your workout plan because all the equipment you need is being used.
Have a workout buddy
When you're entering a new environment or trying something new there's one thing that always helps... having a friend with you! If you can, ask a friend or a coworker to join you on your new fitness journey. Having a workout buddy will help you overcome gym anxiety and will even make your workout routine more enjoyable!
This is a great way to start going to the gym, even if they can't join you for every workout session, it'll help to have them there the first time. Eventually, you'll build enough confidence to go on your own!
Overcome your gym anxiety and start working out with confidence!
Our tips above will help you build confidence and help you get over your gym anxiety in no time! That way you can accomplish the New Year fitness resolutions you set in 2023 and make them a reality.
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