I’m Afraid To Go To The Gym - The Iron Jungle Intimidates Me

Last updated by Katie M.

Working out is supposed to have a calming effect on us, but for me, the opposite is true! In fact, when I imagine myself going to the gym, I become awash with anxiety. The thought of squatting, doing weights, or even just running on the treadmill scares the life out of me, and unfortunately I know I’m not the only woman to feel this way. Despite being fairly in shape thanks to my discovery of home workouts during lockdown, I just can’t muster up the courage to head to the gym, and here’s why.

I’m Afraid To Go To The Gym - The Iron Jungle Intimidates Me

Is it normal to be afraid to go to the gym?

Whilst some people can’t get enough of the gym and go without fail every day, I can’t even manage to get past the smiling receptionist waiting to greet me at the entrance. For me, no place is more intimidating than the iron jungle and much to my surprise, many of us girls agree. In fact, according to a recent study, one in four women suffer from what’s known as ‘gymtimidation’, and therefore shy away from exercising in public. But what is it that awakens the deep set anxiety within me? Is that the endless maze of machines that I struggle to understand? Is it the grunting body builders who make me feel completely out of place? Or, is it the fact that I spend my time comparing myself to all the other women there, who are confident enough to parade around in tight yoga pants and crop tops, whilst never breaking a sweat. The more I think about it, and the more I progress with this article, the more I’m convinced that it’s totally normal to be afraid of the gym.

I’m scared of being judged

As with pretty much everything in my life, when it comes to working out, I panic that people will judge me. I worry that people will judge my body as not being fit enough. I worry that people will judge my outfit, and I also worry that people will mock me for being as red as a tomato after completely my warm-up routine. The reality is, my list of worries is pretty much endless, yet, the more I reflect on it, the more I’m convinced that I’m punishing myself. After all, why are the sculpted gods in the weight sections going to pay attention to little old me, after all, they’re too busy admiring themselves in the mirror! 

Plus, as with most things, in our heads, we often tend to make mountains out of molehills, and I’m fairly sure this the case here too. Gym goers are there to work out, and haven’t exactly got the time or energy after an intense workout to judge my leggings or my squatting technique either. My list of worries is just my anxiety playing tricks on me, and preventing me from stepping out of my comfort zone.

>>> Discover the 5 symptoms of anxiety.

I feel like the gym lifestyle is inaccessible

If, like me, you’ve ever found yourself idly scrolling through on Instagram, you’ve most likely already been confronted by fitness models who effortlessly perform 200 kg deadlifts and still manage to look flawless. Social media has made gym culture feel out of reach for many of us, who instead of embracing our love for sport, constantly compare ourselves to unattainable role models. The fitness industry isn’t exactly an inclusive one and to be honest we only ever see the same body type in ads, yet this is completely misleading, because fans of working out are totally diverse. We’re not all super toned gym bunnies, in reality some of us are curvy queens with cellulite which we don’t need to feel bad about. Seeing the physical expectations linked to the gym completely intimidates me and makes me feel as if I just don’t belong. What’s sure is that if I listened to the ads, I’d certainly never have my place in the fitness world because I definitely meet their expectations or criteria.

How to feel confident in the gym - 5 Tips

Building confidence in the gym is like building up muscle, which means it takes time. However, thanks to these simple tips, you’ll soon feel more and more at home in the iron jungle. After all, everyone has their place there.

1) Plan your workout

Approach your workout with a plan and follow it from A - Z. If you show up with no idea of what to work on, then you’ll soon lose focus and get bored. After all, no one wants to be wandering aimlessly in the gym. Before going, note down on your phone your program and how much time you’ll spend on each exercise and on each machine. If, on the other hand, you are feeling completely lost, you could always turn to a trainer for a personalized plan.

2) Go when it’s quieter

If you hate the idea of your every lunge being scrutinized and judged, then it’s best to go during off-peak times. That way, you’ll be able to get on with your workout without the added worry of being observed by those that seem like experts.

3) Go with a friend

Going with a girlfriend could be a game changer because it will help you relax and ease into things. Plus, by exercising with someone you know and trust, you are likely to be more open to testing new things and could even fall in love with new machines, that ordinarily, you wouldn’t have tried.

4) Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Now, no one expects you to be able to run 20 km or lift 100 kg on your first visit to the gym. To make the most of your work-out experience, you must focus on what you’re doing and not worry about other people. By giving yourself permission to advance at your own pace, you’ll feel much happier and more comfortable in what you’re doing.

5) Get acquainted with the machines

Knowing the layout of the gym, and how each machine works, will be a lifted from your shoulders. By knowing how to get going on each machine, you’ll certainly feel more confident. Plus, if you don’t want to ask one of the coaches, you could always refer to a YouTube tutorial for more instructions.

Editor’s opinion - Working out should remain fun

There are no two ways about it, we all need to work out every once in a while. Moving our bodies is great for burning calories and also for clearing our heads too. If truth be told, many of us are our own greatest enemies when it comes to heading to the gym, and yet, if we were kinder to ourselves, we’d likely feel heaps better. In truth, with a dash of confidence and some determination, nothing is out of reach for us, which means we ought to embrace this sporting challenge. What have you got to lose by trying? Plus, what’s the worst that could happen? You can’t exactly break a dumbbell by dropping it on the floor.

🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!


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"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." 

- Oscar Wilde