How to avoid gymtimidation

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Does the thought of going back to the gym make you sweat? We give five tips to boost your self-confidence and avoid “gymnastics”

At the best of times, the gym can feel intimidating, let alone beating the machines in the living room after months of workouts. But given the positive benefits of exercise – from improving mood by releasing endorphins to relieving stress – everyone should have access to exercise. Whether you lack the space and equipment for a proper workout at home, or you just need a change of scenery, the fear of entering a gym can be an essential step.

As a sporadic gymnast, I felt the full power of “gymntimidation”: the fear in the pit of your stomach when everyone’s eyes are on you, worried about the people judging your technique, and overwhelmed by the idea of ​​using everything on these machines. And I am not alone. Officially described as a fear of exercising in the gym or of other people, a 2019 survey by OnePoll found that 50% of respondents struggled with some form of fitness restriction.

We can often feel vulnerable and confident after being out of the gym. To help you fight gymnastics, here are five tips, backed by experts.

1. Book an introduction

Even if you’ve been to the gym regularly before the pandemic, an introduction can boost your confidence. The staff can guide you through specific exercises and set up the gym, and help you feel comfortable using the equipment.

If you’re not sure what you’re doing, setting up a machine can be nerve-wracking and can even keep you from getting the workout you want. You may think that others are watching and judging you, but as Kaysha Thomas, sports nutrition therapist explains, that fear is seldom, if ever, a reality.

“Often it is our own judgments that lead us to believe that others are judging us,” says Kaysha. “Most people in the gym focus on themselves. But if you notice someone staring at you, politely bring it to their attention by making eye contact and giving them a smile.”


2. Prepare a pumping playlist

“A feel-good playlist lifts the mood and creates a positive distraction,” says Kaysha. So if you have a song that really “speaks” to you and gets you banging out those Beyoncé-style lyrics, now is the time to channel it and hit the gym with a playlist dedicated to your feel-good songs to go.

According to recent research from McGill University, Canada, music can even induce a sense of reward, as it can stimulate the production of dopamine (the feel-good hormone) in our brains and stimulate the same pleasant feelings you may experience from participating in participation Your favorite activities. This can be a great tool to keep your motivated as you exercise.

3. Find a training partner

When we step into a new environment, we can feel exposed, but with a supportive friend by our side, we immediately feel a little lighter. If you’re feeling insecure, try sharing this with someone you trust – you could band together and support (and motivate!) One another.

If you don’t know anyone personally, you can use free apps like Strava, MeetUp, and Bvddy to connect you with like-minded people with similar training interests.


4. Focus on your successes

It can be easy to fall into the comparison trap at the gym. watch others lift heavier weights, run faster, or appear more confident in their exercise regimen.

“While it is human nature to compare yourself to others, it is important to focus on your own fitness journey,” said Caroline Harper, Bupa Psychiatric Consultant. “Comparing negatively to others in the gym can be detrimental to your mental health, lower your self-esteem, and lead to unrealistic expectations of yourself.

“Set a goal before each training session and write down your successes afterwards; it can help maintain your motivation and improve your self-esteem. “

“While it is human nature to compare yourself to others, it is important to focus on your own fitness journey.”

5. Do not be in a hurry to return

It’s important not to put pressure on yourself to get fit again as this can lead to injury and even emotional burnout. Kaysha suggests relaxing and reminding yourself that instant results won’t help. “These initial physiological changes occur at the cellular level and may not translate into demonstrable“ fitness gains ”. Instead, focus on how you feel during and after your workout.

“Your body in the here and now deserves to be cared for and respected. Focusing on the mental and non-aesthetic physical benefits of exercise is much better for the mind and body. If you feel less stressed, refreshed, energized and more focused after your workout, you are on the right track. “

To discuss your feelings about exercising at the gym or to connect with sports nutrition therapists like Kaysha, visit

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