Gym anxiety: Taking the first steps

Taking the first steps in your fitness journey can be daunting, especially when it is your first time at the gym or if you are trying out a new fitness regime. We can often compare ourselves to others within this environment and become anxious if we don’t feel good enough or think people are judging us. This is known as gym anxiety or 'gymtimidation'.


How to overcome gymtimidation

It might feel like everyone is looking at you but, very often, others can think the same about you! If you are feeling some degree of anticipation then just remember the person who looks confident in the gym once felt like you and they have had the same feelings that you are feeling right now.

You may find it beneficial if you go with someone else for your first session or further visits. You never know until you ask!

Try these tips to conquer your anxiety in the gym.

Plan your workout

Make sure you plan your workout as this can help to make sure you set targets. Remember your goals because you are not there to impress others, only yourself. Everyone is working towards a common objective so really there is no judgement.

Ask for help if you need it

When arriving at the gym, a fear or trepidation might develop by not knowing where everything is or gaps in knowledge about the equipment there. Don’t worry, staff are there to help remember and they will often offer a short induction to introduce you to different equipment. 

Track your workouts

Start slow and build up your goals so don’t try to do too much too soon. This will help to build up your confidence at your pace. After that, it is simply just repetition in order to gain more and more confidence.

Track and monitor in future sessions the workout you engage in. This can be tailored to any sort of workout cardio weight training or yoga for instance. 

Be prepared

It's important to stay hydrated throughout your workout to help you maximise your performance. Perhaps also treat yourself to some new gym clothing and footwear to feel good about yourself. This can make all the difference in boosting your confidence. 

Do a proper warm-up

It is important to warm up for five to 10 minutes and cool down for five minutes at the end. This could be a light walk on the treadmill.

Cardio warm-up dynamic and static stretches are vitally important depending on what you are doing. If for example, it was a leg session, then you would need to do a leg warm-up. Static stretches should be completed when you stand, sit or lie still and hold a single position for a certain period of around 45 seconds. Dynamic stretches are controlled movements that prepare muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues for performance.

Remember why you want to exercise

Exercise has so many benefits, not only physical but for your mental health too. Benefit include:

  • reduces feelings of depression 
  • releases stress
  • boosts mood 
  • lowers anxiety and increases feelings of calm
  • enhances memory
  • improves energy levels
  • provides an opportunity for enhanced sleep
  • strengthens muscles as a feel-good factor
  • reduces the risk of other health problems 
  • improves general well-being and confidence
  • provides a way of connecting with others
  • promotes healthy drinking of water for hydration

Above all, enjoy your session and you'll begin to gain more confidence by building up your workout step by step. Continue to concentrate on your performance and your session goals.

So, what are you waiting for?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Ormskirk L39 & Halifax HX5
Written by Diane Feeney, Couns.Dip CBT.Dip, BAHons, Adults Couples YoungPple4-18 Fams
Ormskirk L39 & Halifax HX5

I am qualified to counsel clients within different elements of counselling. I have worked as a counsellor in different organisations for adults, 1:1, couples, young people and families. This includes bereavement counselling services, relationships, addiction, school counsellor, rape and sexual abuse counselling services for female and male clients.

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