HomeHealthWellbeing

How to overcome gym anxiety

BY Ali Malik

18th Feb 2024 Wellbeing

3 min read

How to overcome gym anxiety
New to the gym and feeling anxious? Personal trainer Ali Malik shares his top tips for how to get over gym anxiety and get back in the gym
For many individuals, stepping foot inside a gym can evoke feelings of anxiety and self-consciousness. The fear of judgement, unfamiliarity with equipment, and perceived lack of fitness expertise often hinder people from fully embracing the benefits of a gym workout.
However, with the right mindset and effective strategies, you can conquer gym anxiety and unlock your true potential. Here are some practical tips to help you overcome anxiety in the gym and create a positive, empowering experience for yourself.

Set realistic expectations

The first step in overcoming gym anxiety is to set realistic expectations. Understand that everyone starts somewhere and that the gym is a place for personal growth and improvement.
"The gym is a place for personal growth and improvement"
Remind yourself that progress takes time and that every individual in the gym is on their own unique fitness journey.

Plan ahead and familiarise yourself

Feeling prepared can significantly reduce anxiety levels. Before heading to the gym, plan your workout routine and familiarise yourself with the equipment you intend to use.
Man running on treadmill
Research exercise techniques and watch instructional videos to gain confidence and knowledge. By doing so, you'll enter the gym with a sense of purpose and direction.

Start slowly and gradually

Ease into your gym routine by starting with exercises and machines you are comfortable with. Gradually introduce new exercises or equipment as you become more confident.
Taking small steps will not only help you build physical strength but also bolster your mental resilience, empowering you to tackle new challenges.

Find a gym buddy or seek professional help

Having a gym buddy can provide tremendous support and motivation. Consider finding a friend who shares your fitness goals or seeking guidance from a personal trainer.
"Having a gym buddy can provide tremendous support and motivation"
A supportive companion or an expert can provide guidance, encourage you during workouts, and help alleviate anxiety by offering tips and feedback.

Practice mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness exercises can be powerful tools to combat anxiety in any setting, including the gym. Prior to your workout, take a few minutes to engage in deep breathing or meditation.
Woman practising mindfulness techniques
Focusing on your breath and being present in the moment can help calm your mind and alleviate anxiety. Additionally, practicing mindfulness during your workout can enhance your mind-body connection, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the experience.

Use headphones and music

Music has a remarkable ability to uplift mood and drown out external distractions. Invest in a pair of comfortable headphones and curate a playlist that energises and motivates you.
Listening to music during your workout can create a personal bubble, helping you stay focused, reduce self-consciousness, and elevate your gym experience.

Embrace group classes

Group fitness classes can provide a supportive and inclusive environment for individuals with gym anxiety. Engaging in classes allows you to connect with like-minded individuals and enjoy the camaraderie of a group setting.
"Group fitness classes can provide a supportive and inclusive environment"
These classes are led by experienced instructors who can guide and inspire you throughout the session.

Celebrate your progress

Recognise and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Overcoming gym anxiety is an ongoing process, and every step forward is a victory. By acknowledging your progress, you boost your self-confidence and reinforce positive associations with the gym.
Conquering anxiety in the gym is a journey that requires patience, persistence, and self-compassion. Remember that everyone has their own insecurities and that the gym is a space for personal growth and self-improvement. By following these strategies, setting realistic expectations, and embracing a positive mindset, you can transform the gym into a sanctuary of empowerment and achieve your fitness goals with newfound confidence. Take that first step, and let the gym become a place where you unleash your inner strength and thrive.
Ali Malik is a personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, and founder of Fit Labs Kensington
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