My posts may contain affiliate links, meaning if you buy something through one of these links, I'll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.
It’s a well known fact that regular exercise can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. But for some, the idea of working out in a gym can cause more anxiety than it alleviates.
Before I worked on my own anxiety, going to the gym was one of my biggest social anxiety triggers. It took months for me to feel comfortable in the gym, and even longer to feel comfortable as the only woman in the weight room.
But the gym is for everyone, and today I want to share my top tips to overcome your anxiety or social anxiety in the gym.
What is Gym Anxiety?
Gym anxiety is a broad term that refers to any fears about going to the gym. These may include a fear of using the equipment wrong, a fear of others body shaming you, or general social anxiety.
It can affect absolutely anyone, but it’s naturally more common in beginners at the gym. Gym anxiety is completely normal, and while this article is aimed at beginners, it can be reassuring to know that even people who have been going to the gym for years can experience gym anxiety from time to time.
Here are 7 tips to Overcome your Gym Anxiety
1. Go easy on yourself and don’t give up
Going to the gym will be scary at first, especially if you have an anxiety disorder. It may take a while but you will become more and more comfortable at the gym, to the point where you don’t even worry anymore.
Say you just use the treadmill on your first day at the gym and you use a new machine every week. Eventually you’ll be an expert on every single piece of equipment at the gym – as long as you keep going and don’t give up.
Gym anxiety is totally normal, but it can be minimised with enough time and patience. Don’t give up on yourself, and be nice to yourself if some days you’re too anxious to make it to the gym. As long as you keep going in the right direction, you’ll end up where you want to be.
2. Go with a friend
When I first started going to the gym I asked a friend to show me the ropes, and it made a huge difference to my confidence. These days I prefer to work out alone, but if you have a friend who already knows their way around your gym, be sure to ask them if they’d be willing to show you around.
On another note, if you have a friend who’s also new to the gym then it can be a great idea to go together so you don’t have to work everything out yourself.
3. Wear an outfit you feel good in
One of the easiest ways to boost your confidence is to wear an outfit that you feel great in, whether that’s a matching Gymshark set or an oversized t-shirt and shorts.
4. Go at off peak times
No one likes a busy gym, and as a newbie it can be intimidating if all the machines you want to use are taken. Work out which times your gym is busiest (usually this will be rush hour, or during the afternoon if you use your university’s gym) and avoid these times whenever possible.
5. Stick to a loose plan
It’s a great idea to have a plan of what you’re going to do when you get to the gym so you’re not wandering around aimlessly when you get there. There are free gym plans everywhere, so if you don’t yet feel comfortable creating your own plan then you’ll be sure to find one online that matches your fitness goals.
But at the same time, I’d suggest giving yourself some flexibility in case a piece of equipment you want to use is taken. This could mean adding some extra ‘back up’ exercises to your plan, or choosing exercises that can be done in any order.
6. Learn how to use the machines before you go
If you know which brand of machines your gym uses, then it’s likely you’ll be able to find in depth tutorials on how to use every piece of equipment in your gym.
But even if you can’t find a tutorial for your exact brand, it’s still worth learning how to use the different machines before you get to the gym. Machines don’t differ much from brand to brand, and Naomi Kong on YouTube has some fantastic beginner friendly tutorials that I would suggest checking out.
7. Remember that no one can tell you’re new to the gym
If you’re new to the gym, it can feel as though everyone knows what they’re doing except for you. And that’s because if someone around you is brand new to the gym, it’s usually impossible to tell.
The same goes for you. Nobody can tell you’re new, so try not to let the idea of messing up a move put you off using a particular piece of equipment. Even if you perform an exercise slightly wrong, no one around you will notice. It’s more likely that they’ll assume you’re doing a variation of a move that they don’t know about.
Read Next: 10 Gym Bag Essentials for Women
Starting the gym can be a huge anxiety trigger, but once you’ve found your rhythm you’ll be so glad you started.
Leave a comment if any of these tips helped you or if you feel I’ve left anything off, and if you liked this article then consider subscribing to The Violet Journal’s newsletter.