Tips to fight gym phobia
The gym can be a daunting space, you've watched some Youtube videos, got a workout planned, you're feeling confident but when you arrive all the machines are taken and you're surrounded by people lifting 10x heavier weights than you - the anxious feelings start creeping in and you're ready to pack it in and leave already, we've all been there.
Negative feelings often associated with the gym are:
feeling self-conscious about what you look like
fear of being judged on your fitness level / how much you can lift
uncertainty of how to use equipment / perform an exercise
Comparison of appearance / abilities
It doesn't matter if you've never been to the gym or if you've been going for years, these feelings creep in and they're normal. I've personally been going to the gym for 3 years now and I had a panic attack in the gym only the other day brought on by anxiety - I couldn't move the seat down to my height because it was jammed and I felt like everyone was looking at me so I panicked and left.
Here are some tips I've found help me with my gym-phobia...
Focus on you! - remember that you're at the gym for you! Block out everyone else because the only competition or person you should be worrying about is yourself. I often come across quite rude in the gym because I block everyone out and get on with it or I daydream and look at other people for inspiration and that might come across like I'm staring or judging someone, but I'm just curious and want to learn so I like to imagine that is how other people feel about me. We're so quick to think the worst when in reality, we're all too focused on ourselves! If you are panicking about how people see you, just remember that they're probably too preoccupied worrying about themselves too.
Rational Emmanuelle - leading on from my previous tip, listen to the rational part of your brain to process feelings of anxiety. Ok, it might be super busy but so what? you can still workout. Ok, you might not know how to use a particular machine but so what? do your research or ask someone. Ok, the person next to you might be lifting heavier or running faster than you but so what? you're not in a competition. SO WHAT.
Don't give your negative thoughts too much power and work through your discomfort - it's the only way you're going to combat any fear. Realistically, we're all just trying to get on with our workout, enjoy it and get out, so remember that when you're feeling judged or watched.
Have a back up plan - when it's super busy I often freak out because I have this plan in my head and if everything is in use I just kind of wander around until I find something to do and I feel like everyone is judging me, but rational Emmanuelle know's they're not. If you get to the gym and for whatever reason you can't do what you planned, have other ideas to turn to incase so that you're not stuck feeling lost. You could try a machine that you've never used before or just stretch whilst it quietens down.
Get a good playlist - put on your favourite music that makes you feel good, positive and energetic. I really find that the right song can get me pumped and I'll actually enjoy it.
Go with someone - teaming up with a friend can be super fun and social. When I first started going to the gym I wouldn't go without Max or my friend until I felt comfortable and knew the gym well enough.
Educate yourself - if you feel like you don't know what to do or you're worried about doing it 'wrong' then do your research and prepare yourself. I watched countless YouTube videos and read articles to help me. No one really knows what they're doing until they do it. Most people are actually pretty friendly and it can be scary, but if you have a question or need some help then don't be afraid to ask someone. No one is really looking at you and even if you do an exercise wrong and someone mentions it to you - it's usually going to be to help you rather than embarrass you and you'll have learnt something and can use it next time. It's so simple but the 'what's the worst that could happen?' mentality really helps me.
The gym should be something you enjoy and want to do. Any negative feelings towards the gym will only fuel negative emotions towards your body and that defeats the object of a workout. We want to feel good, energised and positive! It may take a little more courage at first but channel your attitude and use these tips to work through your anxiety.
"Not all your thoughts are true"