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Anxious About the Gym? Here’s What to Do

Woman in the gym holding a heavy ball
Karla Tafra / LifeSavvy
Exercise is a staple in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In addition to good sleeping habits, a nutritious diet, self-care routines, adequate hydration, and proper rest, carving out the time to move your body is a guarantee to longevity.
Going to the gym can be a pretty stressful experience because all those machines and heavy weights can be a bit intimidating. It makes us wonder, how on Earth will we figure it all out? Here’s how to overcome your gym-induced anxiety and position yourself to make progress on your fitness and well-being goals.

Find a Good Gym

And by finding a good gym, I mean a gym that makes you feel good, which isn’t crazy crowded, and which looks nice and clean. Creating your own routine in the gym requires time, and if you need to switch things up every time you get in because all of your machines are occupied, chances are you’ll get irritated and anxious, not knowing what to do. Your workout will then suffer, but so will your willpower, motivation, and inspiration. Learning to love the gym you’re going to will make it easier for you to actually get out of bed in the morning, put on those Lululemons, and smash your workout.

Start with Group Programs

If working out alone causes your anxiety to go through the roof, find a group program you like and attend a few classes. You’ll get acquainted with the equipment, learn the proper technique, find your own tempo, and build your confidence to try the exercises outside the class. Group programs can also be great places to meet new people and make going to the gym an even better experience.
Woman stretching out in the gym
Karla Tafra / LifeSavvy

Hire a Private Trainer

If you’re able to afford a private trainer, hiring one for a month or two can be beneficial: It will help you relax in the new environment, teach you how to find your way around the machines, make you feel more confident in your own skin, and help you figure out which exercises work best for you. Listen to what he or she is telling you, and use each session to learn something new that you can implement when you’re on your own.

Watch Fitness YouTube Videos

Although this might sound weird, subscribing to and watching fitness YouTube channels will help you learn what you can do in the gym before you even set foot in one. Nowadays, you find thousands of fitness videos that have great content and educational material. Watch a few to help you overcome the fear of the unknown and the anxiety of entering the gym by yourself for the first time.

Work Out with a Friend

Going to the gym by yourself can be pretty awful even for someone who’s not a beginner. It can be hard to motivate yourself or get inspired to work out when it’s just you versus the weights. Finding a partner in crime can help immensely. Whether you’re doing the same workout or following completely different programs, just knowing you have someone to complain to when you’re dying in the middle of your fourth set is enough.

two girls working out together
Karla Tafra / LifeSavvy

Wear Clothes That Make You Feel Good

This tip is more important than you think. Focusing on your technique and breathing patterns can be difficult if you’re worried about whether your leggings are too sheer or your sports bra is so uncomfortable you can’t wait to change into something else. Find good quality clothes that move with your body and support you at the same time. By enabling you to focus on the moves themselves, the right clothes will lower your anxiety and help you progress faster.

Start Slow

Don’t force yourself to go to the gym every day—especially if just the notion of going works up your nerves. Start slow, and go one or two times a week. After you get more comfortable, increase to three or four times a week. Lastly, you can add a day or two more, but always take at least one full day of complete rest. Your body AND your mind will be grateful.
woman working out with weights in the gym
Karla Tafra / LifeSavvy

Make It Your Time

At the end of the day, remember why you’re there in the first place. Whether you’re going to the gym to lose weight, gain weight, stay active, recover from an injury, get ready for a competition, increase flexibility and mobility, or any other reason, you’re doing this for yourself and yourself only. Focus on using every minute of that time and get as efficient as possible.
Who cares if someone’s watching and thinks you’re doing that exercise wrong? If you’ve taken the time to learn the proper technique, you’ve done everything necessary to work out safely by yourself. Get to the gym, focus on your workout, and leave feeling so much better.
Thinking you don’t know what you’re doing and being anxious—with all those barbells, dumbbells, and TRX and weird machine contraptions—happens to everyone who’s just getting started. Give yourself some time to learn everything you need and start falling in love with the gym.
Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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