The first step into the unknown is always the hardest. If you are new to the fitness game, or have tended to head for the trusty treadmill straight after entering the building, chances are that you are absolutely petrified of the prospect of working out in the weights area of the gym.
I know because I was in that exact position when I first started attending a public gym!
One of the biggest barriers stopping many from achieving their health and fitness goals is an overwhelming anxiety concerning the gym floor: a pervasive fear that, if you were to go and workout in the weights area, everyone in the room would turn their heads towards your bench and judge every miniscule move you make for the duration of your session.
Irrational and false? Absolutely.
Unsolvable? Certainly not!
Over the years, I have developed a variety of psychological strategies to help both myself and my athletes cope with the irrational fear of the gym floor, so that we can achieve our full potential and progress ever closer to our individual fitness goals.
See Related : Mind vs Reality – How to Combat Negative Thoughts
In this article, I am going to share th 6 most effective ways I have experienced when helping clients conquer their demons and overcome their fear of working out in the gym…
1. Have A Plan
There is nothing worse than feeling like you don’t belong somewhere; a common issue for individuals when it comes to making your debut on the gym floor.
This is often because people don’t feel like they know what they are doing, or have ‘nowt the foggiest of how to structure an effective workout. The consequence is something which can massively exacerbate the feeling of being out-of-place in the weights are: wandering around the place with no clue as to where to go to next!
The solution? Go in with a Plan! After all, an architect wouldn’t try and build a house without a blueprint; in the same way, you probably shouldn’t enter the gym to build the body of your dreams unless you have a gameplan.
At the very least, this could be a rough idea as to what you want to focus on during the session (upper body, lower body etc.). However, you should have a slightly more defined strategy regarding what exercises you want to do in the session, how many sets and reps for each exercise, and an approximate rest period between sets.
If you are struggling for inspiration on this front, get in touch with me to organise free consultation & taster session where we can discuss your goals and how I can help you create a bespoke plan of attack in order to achieve your health and fitness dreams. For a taste of what you can expect, check out my free Foundations of Strength Training Programme (click the link) for a generic gym-based training programme.
2. Phone A Friend
Having a training pal who you double-up with can be an absolute gamechanger when it comes to combatting the fear of the gym. I have had clients in the past who have been petrified to train on their own, but once they got mates involved in their own training, they discovered a newfound confidence that allowed them to break the anxiety and complete some top quality shifts pumping some iron.
What will make it even better is if you find a friend or family member who is at a similar level of experience, or shares a similar goal to you. This means that you can bounce ideas of one another, stay accountable to each other, and ultimately increase the probability of the both of you achieving your goals.
This also does not necessarily mean that you closely follow each other round the gym; for example, if you find someone to go to the gym with who has slightly different goals, you will find that the exercises you want to do will differ considerably. It is just the fact that there is a familiar face in the same space as you that can help put your mind at ease and concentrate on the session at hand.
As the old saying goes:
Safety in numbers…Anon
3. Zone In To Your Training Bubble
When I made that first step into a public gym, I immediately started thinking damning thoughts about others in the room staring at me, saying things like “what is he wearing”, “why the f**k is he even here” and “he looks lost”.
To put it bluntly, I was p*ss-scared of the big blokes lifting tonnes of weight judging me for every single second I was on the gym floor.
However, I soon realised the simple fact that no one gives a solitary sh*t what you are doing whilst you are training; they are too busy concentrating on smashing their own session to care about what clothes your wearing, or how heaving the dumbbells you are pressing are.
Whenever I get anxious about others watching me workout, I remember that they are usually to busy flexing & staring lovingly at their reflection in the mirror…Anon
It takes a hell of a lot of practice, but learning to zone in to your individual training bubble is one of the greatest tools to combat gym-anxiety. I personally find that listening to your favourite playlist is a great way to narrow your attention on the exercise(s) that you are performing, and helps to move your thoughts away from the non-existent, perceived judgement by others around you.
4. Invest In Some Quality Gymwear
The old saying of “look smart; act smart” is something that can certainly be used in order to maximise confidence on the gym floor and help give you that extra nudge to get out into the room and get it done.
I always feel most confident when I am wearing decent garms going into my session, as it gives me a sense of belonging almost like wearing a uniform. It seems incredibly trivial, but I think that the clothes you wear have an adverse effect on instilling confidence when you are working out surrounded by others.
Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT promoting the use of the gym floor as a fashion parade; I am merely expressing the fact that investing in some appropriate clothing that YOU (no-one else) feel comfortable and confident in is a great way to overcome the anxiety of appearing “out of place on the gym floor”.
5. Pick Your Times
When you are feeling ambivalent about the prospect of working out on the gym floor, the last thing you want to see is a crowd of shredded peeps congregating in their (socially distanced) masses around the benches and the squat racks…
That’s why, if you are feeling sceptical about working out in the weights area, it is important to try as best you can to train at quieter periods of the day. Obviously, this isn’t possible for people who work long hours; but for many, I am sure you will have at least some opportunities throughout the week to workout when it is less busy.
Particularly in these strange times in the wake of Coronavirus, making an effort to come when fewer people are at the gym will calm your anxiety a wee bit and help you concentrate on putting in a big shift as opposed to worrying about people around you getting up in your grill.
Luckily at PureGym, you can see the busyness across the day on the PG App home page; if you plan your training according to the average number of people training at any given time, you can increase the chances of having a session when it is less busy.
6. Join The GPT Dream Team!
One of the main issues I help people overcome is this very problem! As a personal trainer, I always make a big effort to promote enjoyment out of exercise, and try as best I can to empower you to feel comfortable and confident working out on the gym floor!
If you have previously tried to overcome your fear of the gym floor, yet have been unsuccessful, get in touch to organise a FREE CONSULTATION to discuss how we can work together to smash your fitness goals and develop an exercise programme that works for you, your preferences, and your lifestyle!
Plus, as one of my current athletes put it, you will always be at ease when training with me because no one will watch or judge you and your training when you are next to a freakishly tall fella with ginger hair and weird shoes…
See Related: Join The GPT DREAM TEAM!
The Final Word
Fear of working out in the weights area is by far and away the most common barrier I have noticed when it comes to people pursuing their health and fitness goals. If you have experienced this in the past, or are currently experiencing it, then rest assured that you are by no means on your own. If anything, it is the norm!
However, there are a variety of strategies you yourself can implement to help quash any negative attitudes towards the gym floor, a few of which I have outlined above. The tips in this article have been those strategies that I myself have found most effective in my own personal fitness journey, as well as the journeys of many of my clients both past and present.
Don’t let your mind be the master of you, and break down the barriers that you yourself have created. That way, you will find yourself with a one-way ticket towards your health and fitness dreams…