Published By: Puja Sinha

Battling Gym Anxiety: A Quick Guide

Uncovering gym anxiety or gymtimidation for health and fitness

The crippling anxiety that creeps within you each time you think of joining a gym or start at someplace new is legitimate and mentally taxing. Gymtimidation is so real that there is a specific set of symptoms that distinguish it from general anxiety or repulsion towards working out: chest tightness, palpitation, fear, excess apprehension, and shortness of breath. Both beginners, seasoned gym goers, and intermediaries are triggered by the newness of the gym, crowd, and the novelty of the experience.

So, how does this fear manifest within a gym setting?

Talking to peers

Fidgeting with equipment

Trouble with group classes

Dreading small talk

Suffering from body dysmorphia

Paranoid of people’s stares

Nervousness about sweating and other effects of working out 

With gym anxiety comes the nagging nonchalance to go to the gym and skip out on working out altogether. Recognising the signs is crucial to intervene in a constructive manner. Since giving up is not a practical solution, let’s look at the tried and tested strategies to combat gymtimidation and get into the flow.

Train your Thoughts

Management of negative train of thoughts that make a train wreck of anyone’s mind is the first step towards thwarting gym anxiety. Doing away with intrusive thoughts which stem from low self-esteem, extreme self-consciousness, and dwindling confidence would make space for healthy coping mechanisms and realistic expectations. Such a step would motivate you to actively work on anxiety and fight against it instead of nurturing it every single day. 

Mentally Prepare the Workout Session

If the enormity of the gym is too much and you are reeling under its pressure every time the thought crosses your mind, mentally plan the workout by noting down the steps you would follow and the equipment you would practice. This strategy, besides giving you confidence, would push you towards your fitness goals.

Hire a Trainer

Getting professional help would soothe your anxiety to an extent for they are fluent with the equipment use and the right ways to get around in the gym. In the midst of unknown faces and physically daunting equipment, a professional and morally supportive mentor could bestow a degree of calm and poise on you. Trainers provide honest and constructive feedback which stimulates an encouraging learning atmosphere. Such an environment is crucial to keep away negative thoughts and nervous jitteriness. 

Take Baby Steps

 Instead of aiming high, overcome the anxiety by setting realistic goals and taking small steps. This would give you ample time to work your way up to a certain level of expertise and skill which would automatically thwart off the nagging jitteriness. Repeated exposure would establish comfort and trust. Gradually, you will feel more at ease.

Set your Playlist

Listening to music while exercising is a pro way of dealing with any gym awkwardness or weird vibes till you are well-adjusted to it. Music would give you the necessary dopamine and adrenaline rush necessary to break a sweat. 

Hang in There with a Friend

Pairing up with someone works amazingly to build self-confidence and get familiarised with the place. It is one way of feeling self-assured and garnering a positive mindset, which are prerequisites to making the workout sessions self-gratifying and rewarding. Your friend’s knowledge regarding the gym dos and don’ts may also come in handy. 

When to Seek Clinical Help?

You may need professional anxiety treatment if all the measures fail and you perpetually feel panic and social anxiety. In many cases, gymtimidation could point to a more sinister underlying issue such as phobia, panic disorder, and generalised anxiety disorder.