Gym Anxiety: that self-conscious, confidence squishing feeling that you can experience when faced with an intimidating, embarrassing, or potentially awkward situation at the gym, whether that be through experience or through lack of experience. It often involves feelings of fear of being judged based on your fitness level and/or uncertainty involving equipment or classes.
Gym anxiety is real!
One of the things that makes me the most sad in the fitness industry is all the people who believe they aren’t worthy of being in a gym.
Common phrases I hear:
Ø I need to lose some weight before I go.
Ø I want to be fitter first.
Ø I’m just too anxious
Ø I’m not good enough to go
Ø I don’t know what I’m doing
Ø I can’t stand the thought of people looking at me
Ø I just feel like an idiot
And the thing that gets the me the most is that 80% of people in a gym could be feeling exactly the same at any given point. So everyone is just all in a room together, feeling self conscious and worrying about other people. How silly does that seem? How sad is it that people feel like they need to lose weight before they walk in to what should be a “safe space” for people wanting to do just that.
At what point did gyms become somewhere only the fit train? The whole concept of feeling like you need to lose weight before you go to the gym blows my mind..
It breaks my heart that there are so many people out there who put “gym goers” on such a pedistool and feel like they cant go…. you’ve got it so wrong!!!!
But I totally get it. People will assume that as a Personal Trainer, you’ve got all the confidence in the world walking into any gym.
It’s not the case at all.
In 2019 I wasn’t in a great place. I had broken up with my boyfriend and left my first Personal Training job and my whole world felt like it was falling apart. I had 3 months were I could not walk into a gym. There was absolutely nothing wrong with me physically – but mentally I wasn’t ok and I had so much “gym anxiety” walking into another gym that I couldn’t even get myself through the door. I remember having a panic attack on the drive to Peterborough to a gym and I was stuck, unable to get there. It was tough. And that is someone who is a very confident Personal Trainer who knows exactly what to expect from walking into a gym. It wasn’t the fault of any of the gyms, it was my own feelings and worries which were making me feel that way. I just needed to take control of it.
So, if you have never stepped foot in a gym and you aren’t sure what to expect, you just have these perceived images of what to expect – there’s no shock that’s how you feel.
But I am here to tell you it’s normal and it’s time to get over the fear.
Recently I found myself with the same feelings, walking into CrossFit Witham where the athletes are so frikkin good its crazy!! The anxiety I felt going into that gym was so high and it didn’t go away in a few weeks, it took months. But I know that it was my issue causing those feelings and that staying at the gym is what I wanted to do and what will make me the best athlete I can be and reaching my goals. So I stuck it out, each time going in knowing I was going to feel anxious, being aware of how I was feeling and making sure that I reminded myself it was totally fine afterwards.
Because it was… it was always fine. I also felt good afterwards.
In a world so set on telling us how we should be, how we should look, how we should think, we need to look past that and focus on US – ignoring the silent whispers we seem to believe we are hearing.
Ask yourself: Why do YOU feel like that about walking into a gym?
For me it was my own insecurities. Nobody else has given me any reason to be anxious about going into a gym. It comes down to my own feelings of self-worth, not being worthy of being there, never being good enough. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time, am very aware of and am working on. But ultimately its a thought process I am totally in control of.
So to then make the decision to NOT go to the gym, all I am doing is limiting my own potential. I am staying in my comfort zone and allowing society to dictate who I am, what I am worth and where I belong. For the sake of those silent whispers which dont even exist.
Every single person in this world has the right to have the confidence and self-belief to do what the fuck they want to do and try what they want to try and become the person they want to become.
I understand this blog won’t magically give you the confidence to finally walk through that door. But the best advice I can give you is:
Make contact and get someone to hold your hand. You might think that sounds stupid. When I joined Witham, I was very honest with Adam the owner about how nervous I felt and he gave me the perfect amount of metaphorical hand holding. He got me through the door, but then it was on me to make the next steps. But all I needed was a little reassurance and an explanation on how things worked. This could be someone who works at the gym or even a friend of yours that you know goes to the gym, they could go with you a few times.
Have a Personal Trainer. If you are totally new to exercise and the gym, this is just a really good option anyway to show you the ropes. But also, it will help you build your confidence by being with someone else. There is alot to be said for learning the basics of movement first anyway, so this is always a good option.
Just remember: 20 seconds of courage. The hardest part is walking through the door. Once you’ve done that, you’re on your journey of building your confidence and it will only get better from that point.
However you manage to find your confidence and get yourself through the door – become the person that you want to see in the gym. And by that I mean – smile, show a friendly face. Remember the level of anxiety that you felt just getting yourself to that point and remember how much just a kind smile would have made you feel better.
Everybody started somewhere, everyone walked into the gym for the first time and everyone had probably felt some level of insecurity being in the gym. You are not alone.
Where do you want to be in a year from now? Stronger, fitter and more confident in the gym and within yourself? Or still questioning your self worth and questioning whether you can do it or not.
You absolutely CAN do it and it might be the best thing you ever do. ❤
Coach Kellie x