Article writen by: Brenda
Going to the gym is a great way for you to spend your free time at uni and each workout will help you become stronger and healthier! If you've never been to the gym before or find the idea of going overwhelming then you are not alone. Moving to a new city will push you out of your comfort zone and exploring a new gym is one of those things that can cause some anxiety as it's an unfamiliar environment. BUT do not worry; this article shares advice from a Loughborough University student who lives in Student Beehive's Loughborough accommodation. Brenda has experienced what you will go through and has all the top tips to follow so you can feel right at home!
What is gym anxiety and intimidation?
Gym anxiety is the feeling of anxiety felt when going to the gym or when working out in the gym. A lot of people often times feel this way, especially when they are in a new fitness facility. It’s common to feel anxiety because you don’t know what to expect. Gym intimidation, on the other hand, is the fear of working out in front of others who may appear more advanced than you. This is also very common.
Here are some tips to overcome gym anxiety and intimidation:
1. Find the right gym for you
There are so many gym options around! You don’t have to stick to one where you don’t feel comfortable in because it’s the closest to you. Going to the gym will become so much easier if you are in the right environment! No matter the reason - whether it’s the people or someone in the gym or maybe the toxic environment in it, you don’t have to force yourself to stay in that gym because its most convenient. I used to go to a gym that was quite far from me and had a lot of traffic getting to it because I didn’t want to go to the same gym as people from my school. I promise you, it worked so well. I was able to focus on my gains in peace. Making it easier for you this way can help you stay more consistent and motivated to reach your short and long-term goals. So many gyms let you do day passes, shop around and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Also, some gyms such as Everlast has a Ladies Only Gym Area which can help you feel more comfortable exercise without any men around. These areas normally always consist of cardio machines, machines, and weights.
2. Ask for help
If you don’t understand how a machine works, don’t know how to set up a squat rack or aren’t sure how to conduct a particular exercise, more often than not staff members are walking around and more than happy to help. They are there for a reason and that reason is to help customers. Unless they are currently having a session with a client and are mid-set with them, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
3. Have a plan and structure in place
One of the possible reasons that you get anxious when you go to the gym is the feeling of the unknown and you can regain control of that situation by being prepared before you go. Understandably, there are so many exercises and so many options in the gym, that it can feel overwhelming. Having a plan and a structure can help you feel less anxious in the gym as you are less likely to be wondering around completely lost. Even if it’s a programme you bought on the internet or a workout you’ve seen on Instagram. Have a plan when you go to the gym that you’re going to stick to. Also, by having a plan and structure that you like, you are more likely to stick to it and continue doing it. A lot of fitness applications (e.g. SHREDDY, Tammy Fit, Tone & Sculpt) include video tutorials and descriptions alongside the workouts. This can help make you feel more comfortable and confident when performing the exercises.
If you prefer having a more tailored programme, then you can also get a coach (e.g. @eviedcoaching – shout out to my amazing coach ;)). It may be a little bit costly, but personally speaking, having a coach is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. They not only support your fitness goals, but they are fit to tailor your needs. They would be more understanding towards your mental health and provide more support that can ultimately make you feel more at ease. On top of that, they’d be able to structure a gym programme that you enjoy doing and swap out any exercises you don’t like!
4. Remind yourself that everyone is there to focus on themselves
I know this might sound difficult and easier said than done, but I promise you, people are not staring at you. The truth is everyone in the gym is there for themselves – to better themselves and that’s exactly where their focus will be on. Whether it’s focusing on working the right muscle during a workout, focusing on breathing after an intense set, focusing on their form or focusing on making personal record, they are literally focusing on themselves.
5. Go during off-peak hours
I’ve been going to the gym for over 6 years now and let me tell you I still much prefer going during off-peak hours. Normally the busier times are 6-9 am and 4-8 pm and personally, I have found that going between 2-3pm is a really good time. But also, a lot of gyms are 24 hours, and these can help you find the best time that will suit your lifestyle. Some gyms such as PureGym, have an application feature that tells you how many people are currently in the gym which can help immensely.
To conclude - just remember that everyone is there for themselves. Each and every one person in the gym is focusing on smashing their goals that they probably don’t have the time to focus on anyone else in the gym. So go out there and smash your goals!
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