Dealing with Gym Anxiety

Physically Fit top 10 tips to getting over gym anxiety


Its Summer time and we all want to put our efforts in the right place and that may include getting in shape and re-entering the zoo that is the gym, now whether you’re a complete beginner or someone that’s been away from the gym for some time then gym anxiety is a real and genuine problem. It can come in many forms, and you may not even associate it with anxiety, it could be that you see it as a gym phobia, a fear of workout, an embarrassing situation to be in? which ever way you view it, the end result is still the same, we just avoid the gym.


So how can we overcome this, because we all know that fear is a lot worse than the reality, take sky diving for example how many people look absolutely terrified on the flight up, but once they are on the ground again, the first words out of their mouths is “I wanna go again”.

My point is when it comes to the gym the majority of anxiety comes from fear of the unknown, the what ifs and the feelings of self-doubt, so how do we overcome these?


  1. We are all beginners!!

Wait? What? Its true, even that guy covered head to toe in muscle is a beginners, nobody is a complete expert when it comes to training, you may get one guy/girl that is more experienced you, or wears a Personal Trainer t shirt and is instructing someone else, but the bottom line is NOBODY walked into a gym on the first day and was instantly an expert, we are all beginners and we are always learning, and a trainer or gym rat who tells you otherwise is full of shit. Learn all you can but take your time, it’s a marathon not a sprint, nobody is expecting you to know it all and if they are worth anything they will help you.



  1. Go to the Gym with a plan.

Now it doesn’t matter where your plan is from, or if its even any good, it really really doesn’t matter, what matters is you understand what is written on it. A simple training plan is very effective and can stop you feeling lost and unsure when in the gym, take your time before you head to the gym and research a little, there are millions of videos on YouTube on how to perform basic exercises and use basic machines, so take your training plan and type the names of the exercises into YouTube and familiarise yourself with the program you have, trust me it will save a lot of time and effort when you get to the gym. Also think about getting yourself a trainer for a couple of sessions to go through your plan or help you devise one that you are comfortable with, if this is a bit out of your comfort zone or budget, maybe ask a friend who goes to the gym already to go through your plan with you.

It will literally only take you a couple of sessions before you know exactly where your plan will take you in the gym and you will feel so much more comfortable.



  1. Warm up.

Seems pretty standard advice in all sports but its not just about warming up the body, its about settling the mind into its surroundings, pick a simple piece of cardio equipment like a stationary bike or treadmill and slowly start warming up, take the time to settle your mind into what’s ahead, read through your training plan and familiarise yourself with the exercises and if you’ve forgot one, then it’s the perfect time to jump back on YouTube

  1. Make the first exercise one you enjoy.

The best way to feel comfortable in the gym is to do something you know you can do, or you enjoy, it doesn’t matter at all what you start with as long as you start, pick an exercise that you like doing or that you are comfortable doing and get going with that, and once you get over those initial nerves it will start to feel like you belong and you will start to enjoy the gym, there is no better feeling to make you feel at ease than familiarity.




  1. Pick your spot.

When doing your warm up and have a look around the gym, find a spot or machine that you are familiar with, and if its free and that part of the gym is quiet then what better place to start, but if its in use or the gym is particularly busy then just enjoy your warm up and wait for your moment, just relax, there’s no rush and no one is watching to see what you do next, its your workout and its your pace, do what makes you feel comfortable. After a few visits you will start to recognise some of the friendly faces in the gym and training near them is a great way to break the ice and get soe interaction going that can only help in making your feel at home and also get you some free advice off the more experienced members, win win in my book.




  1. Stay in your spot til your ready to move.

A great way to do a multitude of exercises and stay in the same spot is to grab yourself an empty adjustable bench and a couple of sets of dumbbells, this way you train multiple muscles and exercises without having to move around the gym hunting for the next bit of kit you wanna use, there are so many options just with a bench and dumbbells that you can get a good workout without moving much at all.




  1. Bring some tunes.

A good set of headphones and your favourite tunes are a great way of slightly detaching yourself from the rest of the gym, when you first go to the gym your going to be met with some unusual noises and grunting which can be a little bit distracting at first but you soon learn to ignore them, but in the meantime you can stick your headphones on and immerse yourself in your own world, familiar music has an amazing calming effect when it comes to anxiety and it can also lift our mood into a more comfortable and confident zone.




  1. Judgement free zone.

A big misconception in the gym is that everyone is judging you, on how you look or how you train but trust me after nearer 30 years working in gyms I can tell you it is further from the truth.  Think of it like this, the majority of people go to the gym with the intention of bettering themselves, what you do in the gym as no effect to their goals what so ever, so no one is going to judge you as hard as you judge yourself. The people in the skimpy outfits, flexing and sweating are way to busy checking themselves out in the mirror to be worried about the rest of us, in fact I’ve seen more bodybuilders and powerlifters helping beginners than anyone else, the more experienced someone is in the gym the more they love to pass that knowledge on. Don’t get me wrong there are idiots and egotistical pricks in all gyms but that’s the same wherever you go, and the most judgemental ones are usually the most insecure and fake, so they are just to be ignored and avoided, at the end of the day are they really as happy as they make out on Instagram????








  1. I’m too fat to go the gym.

This is by far my favourite excuse for not going to the gym, but what is the gym for if its not for getting in shape? I’ve seen hundreds of people transform themselves in the gym, and nothing gets someone more respect than turning their life around, no one really cares about average joe who builds his arms up to 20 inches, or the girl next door who becomes a bikini athlete because it happens every single day in every gym around the world, what really gets respect is the over weight man or woman who wakes up one day and says enough is enough, sticks on the sweats and gets in the gym and 6 months later looks like a completely different person and has basically saved their life, that gets you real respect in the gym, so the fatter the better!! Get I the gym and inspire someone with your story!!




  1. You belong.

No one has more right to be in the gym than anyone else, unless you own it of course, gyms are like any other membership club, if you pay your fees then you belong, I don’t care if you’ve been a member 1 week or 10 years, everyone deserves to be treated how they treat others, you belong just as much as the next member, no one knows everyone’s back story or why they are there but everyone should accept that the next person has the same right to be there as they do. The best gyms are the ones where everyone helps everyone else and egos are left at the door.








In conclusion.

A gym is not there to intimidate or belittle a person, its there as a sanctuary to grow and be better, a place to thrive and develop, no one should feel like an outsider in a place designed to be a home and a family. Be a part of something great, a lifestyle that makes you feel empowered and alive. Don’t miss something due to misinformation or fear of the unknown, the best thing about fear is, the more you run towards it the more it runs away.