While it’s possible to make your workout at home or in less traditional gym environments effective, it often requires a bigger dose of creativity. After all, the gym is a place packed with the equipment and resources you need to tackle your body goals. But right alongside the gym barbells, dumbbells, machines, and exercise balls, are gym goers. And for many women, that means gym anxiety may be at an all-time high.
Judgey-Based Gym Anxiety
While you might think the cause of gym anxiety would be the potential for injuries given the amount of heavy metal and relatively unfamiliar equipment that surrounds a gym newbie. But the truth is gym anxiety comes more from feeling judged by others. In fact, gym anxiety around using certain machines and free weight came in at 22 percent and 12.2 percent, respectively. However, the gym anxiety linked to a woman’s weight or not looking fit enough rocketed above 54 percent.
Ditch Gym Anxiety
It’s one thing to not like working out in a gym, but it’s another to let gym anxiety make your workout feel unwelcome in a public space. If you long to get your fit on at a gym but don’t want the potential for judgement standing in your way, give these tips a try to sideline the gym anxiety and move ahead with your personal fat-burning goals.
Gym Anxiety 1: Body Shame
Newsflash: Very few people are comfortable in their own skin, no matter what they look like on the outside. And just as you are hyper aware of how your body looks, moves, and performs, the same is true for everyone around you. And that means most people are too concerned with themselves to be concerned with you.
Regardless of what other people may think about you, the bigger problem is really what you think about yourself. If you’re negatively judging your body and shaming the way you look before you ever stepping foot in the gym, then the damage is already done. Instead, of judging the negatives of your body, praise the positives. What do you love about your body? What can your body do now that it never could before? Focus on the good, and with time, the confidence will naturally follow.
Gym Anxiety 2: Wardrobe Malfunction
Clothing choices ranked high among reasons women felt judged at the gym, which isn’t a big surprise given how apparel is so subjective no matter what you’re wearing or where you’re wearing it. However, with athleisurewear more popular than ever–both in and out of the gym–getting dressed for for fitness can feel more like prepping for a runway instead of going to get sweaty.
When picking your apparel, start with what makes you comfortable. Some women may prefer to be in head-to-toe spandex, while others like roomier options with more movement. Whatever ensemble you select, make sure it allows you to bend, twist, and move without worry of ripping or falling off, and the need for constant readjustment. The better your clothing fits and feels, the less you have to focus on what you’re wearing–and that means you can instead concentrate on what you’re doing.
Gym Anxiety 3: Exercise Issues
If the gym is completely foreign territory to you, it’s no surprise it would create anxiety. Fear of the unknown is very real, but it’s easy to combat with some education. Instead of navigating the gym blind all on your own, consider getting a tour from a skilled friend or a personal trainer. Focus on the areas of the gym that are out of your comfort zone, asking lots of questions and requesting plenty of demos.
Also consider buddying up with a partner in the beginning. This person will help distract you from what may feel like the judging eyes of others, while also be able to correct your form and show you how to do something you’ve never done before.
Last, remember that everyone has to start somewhere. While people may be further down the path than you, at one time, they too were once newbies. Trust the process as the more you learn, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
Got a gym anxiety? Share it with others in the comments so together we can help you feel more comfortable and confident working out in public spaces.