We’re officially three months into the new year, which means we’re accomplishing our fitness goals right?! I am going onto my third year of consistently going to the gym. Since being consistent, I’ve gained confidence navigating “gymtimidation” following three easy tips I’ve learned over the years.
Going to the gym wasn’t always a fun experience for me. I experienced a lot of gym an anxiety at the beginning of my journey. My anxiety was the result of feeling as though I wasn’t competent enough, athletic enough, or capable enough to reach my goals. If you’re in currently in the same boat as me, here are 3 tips I used to overcome my gym anxiety.
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1. Exercise during off-peak hours
Three years ago, I embarked on the 21-Hard challenge. Part of that challenge was deciding that I would finally get serious about lifting weights. However, I was now facing an unfamiliar dilemma. I quickly realized that I was extremely intimidated by other “seasoned” gym goers. Instead of focusing on my goals, I was preoccupied with the idea that others were secretly judging me. My anxiety grew at the thought of people watching me perform certain lifts, such as barbell squats, or appearing like a novice at the gym. I decided that in order for me to feel comfortable working on my form and using the free weights, I would start going to the gym in the early hours of the morning. I would wake up at 4:30am each day to head to the gym by 5am.
This was a game changer for me. Because the gym was virtually empty, I had the freedom to use a variety of weights and machines. Most importantly, I was able to focus on myself and get a workout in before starting my 9-5 job without the presence of so many people. However, it’s understandable that a 4:30am gym session is not for everyone – find what works for you. I highly recommend going to the gym during off-peak hours. Ask your gym which times are the least busiest and make a plan to go if you can!
2. Plan your workout routine to tackle gym anxiety
One of the most common questions I get from others on my social media accounts is, “how do you know what to do at the gym?” I can see how that might impact someone’s ability to get a work out in when you’re not sure where to start. It can be overwhelming. My suggestion is to plan your workouts before you head to the gym – DIY or go for those that are done for you. If you’re a DIYer: write a routine down. You can use a phone or have a dedicated gym journal to refer to that accompanies you to the gym.
For example, if I am targeting my glutes for the day, I will write down 4-5 different exercises to complete during my gym session and how many times I’ll complete each exercise. The same can be said about cardio (treadmill for 30 minutes, kettle bell swings, etc). I love this system because I can also decide how many weeks I’ll stick to a plan. Repetition builds consistency. If you’re having trouble deciding what exercises too, TikTok is a great resource and also Reddit (or good ol’ Google!).
For those who don’t want to think up a plan: Follow a plan created by someone else. My favorite app for this is EvolveYou, which is an app where you can choose from hundreds of workouts and train at home or the gym! There is a yearly fee, but it’s totally worth it if you’re needing guidance and convenience. There are also plenty of TikTok or YouTube creators who are generous enough to share their routines for free.
3. Invest in clothes you feel good in
When you can, budget for a gym wardrobe to help boost your gym confidence! A study reported that 79% of people believe that owning good gym clothes is the first step to accomplishing fitness goals. I 100% agree! When I started revamping my gym wardrobe, I started feeling really good about myself. I was wearing clothes that were flattering on my body. If you’re needing some new gym clothing, Amazon is a great place to start for affordable gym wear. Check out some of my favorite Amazon gym clothing finds by clicking here!
4. Overcome your gym anxiety by starting small
There’s something to be said about taking small steps that create big wins. If you’re struggling with gym anxiety, it’s worth sticking to goals that are realistic and attainable for you. Maybe it looks like committing to the gym twice a week. Or making it a goal to work out for just 30 minutes a day until your confidence increases. It could be going to a small gym in your area until you’re ready to move on to another one. The key is just to start somewhere, no matter how small!