If you’re nervous or uncomfortable while you’re working out at the gym or even at the thought of going to one, you may have gym anxiety, which can get in the way of reaching your fitness goals.
We all can feel intimidated about exercising in front of other people, participating in classes, changing in locker rooms, using gym equipment or simply knowing what to do when you’re at the gym, but when you’re compelled to avoid going to a gym at all it’s likely to hinder your fitness journey in any setting.
Finding ways to manage these feelings will help you get on the path to better health and well-being both physically and mentally.
- Familiarize yourself with the gym — If you’re unsure about its layout, the kind of equipment or facilities it has or whether you can do everything you want to do there, do research online, take advantage of trial memberships, go with a friend or find a staff member or trainer who can explain gym policies and guide you to the amenities you’re looking for.
- Go in with a plan — Keeping your fitness goals in mind, decide what you want to do and in what order so you can arrive with a sense of purpose and direction that will keep you from wandering around, wasting time and feeling like everyone is looking at you. (They aren’t, by the way.)
- Visit during low-traffic periods — Dealing with crowds often causes anxiety to spike, so ask staff when the gym’s off-peak hours are and try to plan your visit around those.
- Wear headphones — You can listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks while you work out to provide extra motivation and distract yourself from wondering whether everyone else is looking at you.
- Join a group class — If you’re self-conscious about working out on your own and having people watch you, you may feel more comfortable in a class where everyone is doing the same thing you are and watching the instructor, rather than you or anyone else in the class.