How To Go To The Gym When You’re Anxious

Many of us experience anxiety when first going to the gym, but you should know this is a common feeling! Learn ways to overcome gym anxiety by planning ahead, utilizing gym resources, and having a support system. #gymanxiety #strengthtraining #fitnessjourney



Are you excited to start a new workout routine but unsure how to to go to the gym because of anxiety? Feeling judged or uncertain about what to do can be overwhelming, but you’re not alone. Many people suffer with nerves when it comes to going anywhere new. But gyms in particular seem to be more intimidating than others. In this post I want to talk about ways to help combat this anxiety and make your fitness journey into a positive and uplifting experience.

Table of Contents

Understanding Gym Anxiety

It’s important to know that gym anxiety is a shared experience among beginners and even experienced gym-goers. Feeling nervous about stepping into a new environment is completely normal. And there are a lot different reasons for this, including:

Reasons For Gym Anxiety

  • Fear of Judgment: This fear can stem from concerns about how you look, your exercise form, or fitness level. But everyone has to start somewhere, and most of the people at the gym are focused on their own workouts.
  • Social Anxiety: The gym environment, with its open spaces and sometimes busy environment, can trigger social anxiety. Fear of interacting or feeling self-conscious while exercising in front of others may be a trigger.
  • Performance Anxiety: The pressure to perform exercises correctly or meet certain fitness standards can create anxiety. No one likes to mess up in front of others, but remember that remember that progress takes time, and everyone progresses at their own pace.

Almost everyone, regardless of their fitness level, has encountered similar anxieties at some point. Knowing that gym anxiety is a common and natural part of a fitness journey, you can shift your focus from fear to self-improvement.

how to go to the gym

Overcoming Mental Barriers

It’s okay to feel a bit nervous about going to the gym. Take a moment to recognize and accept your feelings. You’re not alone, and acknowledging your nerves is the first step to overcome them. The important thing is to not set crazy expectations that stress you out. Keep it real and start with small, achievable goals.

When negative thoughts creep in, give them a reality check. Are you really being judged, or is it just your nerves talking? Turn “I can’t do this” into “I’m learning and getting better every time.”

Again, most people are too busy focusing on their own workout to pay attention to what you’re doing. It’s usually a supportive space where everyone is on their own journey – just like you. (I can’t speak for all gyms here.)

Planning Ahead

Book A Tour

Booking a tour lets you scope out the gym without feeling the pressure of a full workout. You can check out the equipment and get familiar with the layout. And you can ask questions for anything you’re unsure of. Some great questions to ask are:

  • What times during the day is the gym less crowded or quieter?
  • Are there any private areas or smaller workout spaces?
  • Do you offer introductory sessions or one-on-one orientations for new members?
  • Do you offer trial periods?
gym membership tour

Find Out Low-Traffic Times

A quieter gym means fewer eyes on you, less waiting for equipment, and an all-around more relaxed vibe. Most gyms with have peak and off-peak hours listed on their website. Or if you have booked a tour, you can ask there.

Know What Equipment You Want To Use

It’s best to go to the gym with a plan. Knowing exactly what exercises you want to do means you can look up the equipment needed and get advice on how to use it. I can almost guarantee that any gym equipment or free weight exercise you want to see a demo of will be on YouTube. My personal recommendation is Naomi Kong – she has an entire playlist for using gym equipment, which includes videos that cover most lower body or upper body machines, but also more specific videos, like setting up and performing a hip-thrust.

Gradual Exposure

Start off by going to the gym just to scope the place out a bit. Jump on a machine that you are confident you know how to use. The cross-trainer, rowing machine and stationary bikes are great as you can just jump on them and go. Use this time to look around a bit and note where certain machines and equipment are. This initial exposure helps normalize the gym environment without the expectation of a full workout.

cardio machines gym equipment

Once you’ve taken this initial step, you can gradually build on your exposure to the gym environment. The goal is to increase your comfort level over time and build more confidence each time you go. Start with short, simple workouts to ease into a routine. Choose exercises that you feel comfortable with, and focus on one area at a time.

As you become more at ease, explore different areas of the gym. Try out different machines, test different types of workouts, and find what works best for you.

The key is to progress at your own pace and celebrate the small victories along the way.

Use Gym Resources

  • Get Help from Gym Staff: Don’t be scared to ask gym staff for help, it’s what they’re there for! They are there to advise on equipment usage, and address any issues you might have. Whether it’s asking about proper form or getting advice on a workout routine.
  • Hire a Personal Trainer: A trainer can tailor workouts to your fitness level, provide encouragement, and advise on proper form, reducing the anxiety you may have about not knowing what you’re doing.
  • Use Fitness Apps: There are a lot of apps that not only have workout programs, but most will offer demonstrations of each workout. Including using free weights, and machines.

Have A Support System

Bring along a supportive friend, even if it’s just for for your first few visits. Having a friendly face can ease anxiety and make the experience a lot more fun. Your friend can provide encouragement, share the experience with you, and help create a positive association with the gym.

Gym Etiquette

Knowing the “rules” of the gym before you go can ease the fear of doing something wrong. The below are some simple guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Clean Up After Yourself: Always re-rack your weights after use and wipe down equipment with gym-provided disinfectant wipes or bring your own small towel.
  • Respect Personal Space: Give other people space and avoid lingering too closely to someone working out.
  • Keep Noise Levels Down: Avoid dropping weights loudly and use headphones for music.
  • Share Equipment: Don’t hog equipment or benches; be mindful that other people may be waiting.

Know The Lingo

Understanding basic gym lingo can help you adjust to a gym environment more comfortably. here are some basics you should know:

how to go to the gym
  1. Reps (Repetitions):
    • The number of times you perform a specific exercise in a set. Like 10 push-ups.
  2. Sets:
    • A group of repetitions. Like, if you do 10 push-ups, take a break, and then do another 10 push-ups, you’ve completed two sets.
  3. Spotter:
    • A person who assists you during weightlifting exercises, ensuring safety and helping you complete the lift if you begin to struggle.
  4. Warm-Up:
    • Light exercises to prepare your body for more intense physical activity, done at the beginning of a workout to warm-up your muscles and prevent injury.
  5. Cooldown:
    • Gentle exercises and stretches performed at the end of a workout to gradually reduce heart rate, promote flexibility and potentially prevent DOMS.
  6. DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness):
    • The muscle soreness experienced 24 to 48 hours after an intense workout.
  7. Compound Exercises:
    • Movements that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats or deadlifts.
  8. Isolation Exercises:
    • Movements that target a specific muscle group, such as bicep curls or leg extensions.

Knowing some common terms can help you with talking to other gym-goers and help you better follow workout routines and instructions.

Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.

Walter Anderson

How To Go The Gym: Conclusion

Starting anything new can be scary. But planning and ensuring you are as informed as possible can help ease the anxiety associated with going to the gym. Exercise benefits your health, and you shouldn’t let anxiety get in the way of that! Please take a look at my post on how exercise contributes to weight loss here.

Have you got any tips for overcoming gym anxiety? Leave a comment below to help other beginners!

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