8 Trainer-Approved Ways to Overcome Gym Anxiety

8 Trainer-Approved Ways to Overcome Gym Anxiety
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Whether your “new year new me” resolutions are kicking in or a local gym is offering a mega deal or you’re simply switching up where you work out, feeling uncomfortable and even anxious about walking through the door is very common.

“The beginning of the year always tends to bring in a fresh excitement around the gym,” says Adita Yrizarry-Lang, a trainer and holistic nutritionist and author of “SuperPowers: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Health and Happiness.” “When the big day arrives, the anticipation soon diminishes. The chiseled physiques, the massive amount of equipment and the buzz of hundreds of workouts taking place at once can create chaos in the most tranquil of minds.”

Unfortunately, this level of gymphobia can have a ripple effect — for some, it could lead to exercising at a lower intensity than they planned or even skipping the gym altogether. But take heart: There are ways to overcome the discomfort that comes from being a fitness newbie. Top trainers offer these suggestions for navigating gym anxiety:

1

CHOOSE YOUR ENTRANCE TUNE

Having a workout mix of upbeat music is helpful, but kick it up a bit if you’re feeling hesitant about stepping into the gym, suggests Pilates instructor Julie Driver. Put your headphones on before you walk in, she advises, and have an “entrance song” that gets you feeling invincible. You can also choose a “finale” song for the end of the workout to keep you motivated, she adds.

2

PICK A PODCAST OR BOOK YOU LOVE

If there are podcasts or audiobooks you’ve been wanting to listen to, tie that to gym time, Driver says. That makes you more excited to get to the gym because you’re looking forward to focusing on that content.

3

GO DURING NON-BUSY HOURS

For many people, a crowded gym means more than waiting for a treadmill or specific free weights — it means an abundance of people to work around. Richard Giorla, founder of Los Angeles-based circuit training gym Hiit 11, suggests changing up your schedule so you can go on hours when there are fewer people, which tends to build confidence. That may also make it easier to schedule personal training sessions or ask staff to explain how to use equipment.

4

CHANGE YOUR FOCUS

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by how much is going on around you, but try switching to how you’ll feel when your workout is over, says Lang. She believes some of the best goals are centered not on specific results — like hitting a certain weight-loss amount — but on how you want to feel. For example, picture yourself having more energy or more strength. Think about how much closer to your fitness goals you’ll be in just a few months. That long-term thinking can help push out the right-now anxieties.

5

SECTION OUT THE GYM AND GET ADVICE

If your gym anxiety is less about people and more about feeling unsure about what to do when you’re there, it’s helpful to get a few personal training sessions, join a group training class or simply focus on just five exercises to start, notes Lang. She suggests breaking down the gym into segments and then working on one segment per visit. So, instead of trying to do multiple types of cardio machines, strength equipment and free weights during one visit, focus on just one of those.

6

CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Ever get the feeling that when you walk into the weight room everyone is staring at you? That’s normal, but it’s not true, says fitness and nutrition expert Dr. Rick Kattouf. “Any apprehension, intimidation and insecurity an individual may feel when they walk in is self-imposed,” he notes. “No one else cares. Seriously, they don’t. When a weight-room veteran sees a newbie come in, we say, ‘Good for them, glad to see them lifting weights.’”

7

VISIT FIRST, WORKOUT NEXT TIME

Take time to go in and explore a gym before working out, suggests fitness and Pilates instructor Jennie Gall. That will take the pressure off and make you feel more comfortable when you go in the next time, she believes. Just a 15-minute walk through or tour helps you find out which machines are there, what personal training sessions involve and even what amenities are in the bathroom.

8

JUST KEEP GOING

Most of all, give yourself credit for simply walking in the door, Lang says. Simply showing up is a huge step, and with consistency and repetition, you’ll get past the gymphobia faster than you think.

“No need to do it all in one day, give it time,” says Lang. “After meeting a few people and getting better acquainted with what’s in the facility, working out will seem easier each day.”

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