Gymtimidation is real, and it’s a big problem for women who are new to working out.
You may not be familiar with the term ‘gymtimidation’, but you probably know the feeling: you walk into a crowded gym full of fit and experienced exercisers, and your confidence starts to circle the drain. Maybe this is your first time back at the gym in a while, or maybe you’re new to working out altogether. Either way, the feeling of intimidation can be enough to make you bail on your workout altogether.
If you’ve ever felt this way at the gym, you are not alone. Half of Americans feel nervous about the idea of working out in a gym setting, and one in four women in the UK feel too intimidated to go to the gym at all. Luckily, there are ways that you can overcome this feeling.
The gym is a wonderful place where you can discover your strength and build your confidence. If gymtimidation is holding you back, we’ve got five amazing tips to help you leave doubt at the door and feel like the bad B that you are.
What is Gymtimidation?
Gymtimidation, also known as gym anxiety, is the nervous or fearful feeling that people get when they think about going to the gym. This can be caused by several reasons: a fear of being judged by others, unfamiliarity with the layout or equipment, or insecurity about being out of shape.
Many people see the gym as an intimidating place, and they may even feel afraid of being judged by regular gym goers. In fact, a survey conducted by Cosmo Body UK found that some of the main causes of gymtimidation are:
- Thinking they’re not fit enough.
- Feeling like the gym is dominated by regulars.
- No knowing how much to lift or how to use machines.
- Feeling nervous about being checked out by men.
At its core, gymtimidation comes down to the anxiety of an unfamiliar place or people. By tackling the anxieties surrounding this, you can finally begin to enjoy your workouts and see the gym as a place where you belong!
5 Tips to Help You Overcome Gymtimidation
Look Up the Gym Layout and Class Schedule Beforehand
Understanding the layout beforehand can prevent you from feeling out of place during your workouts.
Before you even go to the gym, look for photos of the gym on their website to try to understand the layout beforehand.
If you’re going to a new gym, you may feel like you’re constantly weaving in-between machines and people trying to look for the equipment you need for your sweat sesh. To avoid this confusion, try looking at photos to get a feel for the layout. This can help you walk into the gym more confidently.
At some gyms, staff members will offer you a walkthrough to familiarize you with the machines and equipment. Check with your gym and see if this is a service that they offer.
Plan Your Workout Ahead of Time
Work with a personal trainer or find an online training program so that you know exactly what to do when you hit the gym.
Prevent the “I don’t know what to do” panic at the gym by making a game plan ahead of time!
If you have trouble figuring out what to do once you get to the gym, you could benefit from planning your workouts ahead of time. Luckily, it’s super easy to find a training program or workouts on social media.
If you want something a little more personalized, try speaking to a personal trainer. Lots of gyms have personal trainers that you can hire to walk you through a workout so that you feel more comfortable using equipment and creating a routine.
Stick to Floor Routines or a Few Machines
Stick to mat workouts, like Barre and Pilates, when you first start out. Then, move on to more complex workouts as you get more confident!
If you’ve been scrolling through FitTok, you may feel inspired to use the deadlift platform but then back out when you get to the gym. But you don’t have to use the most intense equipment to get a great workout! Instead, start by doingbodyweight or free-weight workouts and work your way up.
One of the major reasons people feel nervous to go to the gym is because they don’t know how to use the equipment. When you’re first starting out, try sticking to a floor routine with dumbbells and branch out to a few machines as your confidence grows. Before you know it, you’ll be deadlifting like a pro.
Go During Off Hours
Feeling overwhelmed by the 5 o'clock crowd? Try working out at an off hour to get the gym all to yourself!
Worried about equipment being taken or being judged by regulars? Try going to the gym during the slow hours instead!
Going to the gym during peak hours can cause your anxiety to spike. You may find yourself fighting for a treadmill or feel crowded by all the people on the floor. Instead, try going in the off hours, usually late morning to early afternoon. This will help you beat the rush and feel more confident at your gym.
Take a Group Exercise Class
Group fitness classes are a great way to get a workout in without having to plan it yourself.
If you still don't feel confident to hit the gym floor solo, try taking an exercise class instead.
Exercise classes are perfect for people who are busy or want someone pushing them throughout their workout. Lots of gyms offer classes, like Zumba or Weightlifting, that you can schedule ahead of time. Not only will you feel more comfortable with a trainer walking you through a workout, but you may also make a few friends at your gym along the way!
Ultimately, the best way to overcome gym anxiety is to remind yourself why you're there in the first place. You should also remember that people are probably not paying attention to you as much as you think. Everyone is looking at themselves in the mirror, so they aren't paying attention to you. That's kind of liberating, don't you think?
The gym is a place where you can better yourself and connect with your body for a part of the day. It should be a place where you feel confident and safe. But it's also ok if you feel a little nervous right now. You'll get there.
You got this!
Miranda Risser is a freelance health & fitness writer based in South Carolina. When she’s not writing, Miranda can be found chipping away at her to-be-read pile, testing out new recipes, or logging miles with her two mini Australian Shepherds.