Maintaining a consistent workout routine is hard enough. Then you add in the anxiety that comes with showing up to the gym, and it's no wonder people lose momentum and, at times, even stop going altogether.
We get it, though. Gyms can be intimidating. There are people everywhere and tons of equipment and machines that can be confusing to use. The good news is that, like any fear, "gym anxiety," as it's commonly referred to, is something you can overcome. Keep reading to learn 7 tips from top personal trainers to help you on your way to overcoming your gym anxiety once and for all.
1. Forget about judgment
First and foremost, although it may feel like everyone is watching you and judging you, the truth is, as Danny Saltos, a Los Angeles-based personal trainer, puts it, "no one cares!" It may be tempting to pop your earphones on and keep to yourself, but Lindsay Bennett, a celebrity personal trainer in Nashville, encourages you to say hello to people you pass by, which will help reduce the jitters and make you feel more comfortable.
2. Remember: Challenge creates growth
Things that are worth doing, like exercising, aren't always easy — but that's a good thing. "True growth comes from challenging yourself," Saltos says. "Step outside of your comfort zone and go to the gym that intimidates you. Before you know it, you'll strut in like you own the place."
3. Ask for a tour
If you're new to a gym (and even if you're not), don't be afraid to ask the staff for a quick tour. "The guided tour will help ease the anxiety of any unfamiliarity, and answer any questions you may have," Bennett says. "That's what the staff is there for; they will be happy to help."
4. Practice positive self-talk
Positive affirmations can help reduce gym anxiety and boost your overall confidence. Bennett suggests jotting down a few power statements, such as, "I am strong and confident" into the Notes app on your phone and read them before the gym, while you're there or whenever you're feeling anxious about it.
5. Scan the gym while stretching
Most gyms have a designated stretching area. Bennett advises making that your first stop when you arrive at the gym. While you're stretching, you'll have time to familiarize yourself with the setup, equipment and machines. "This will make you feel more confident in knowing exactly where you want to go after you're finished stretching," she says.
6. Arrive with a plan
Not having a plan — not just at the gym — but in all areas of life, tends to trigger anxiety. So merely planning out what you're going to do at the gym beforehand will give you a boost of confidence and significantly reduce those anxious feelings, says Saltos.
It's also helpful to create your action plan based on the equipment you're already familiar with and use those first. "This way, you can build up your confidence before you head to the next spot," Bennett says. "Plus, the endorphins will help set your nerves at ease."
7. Go during a slow period
If possible, Bennett recommends going to the gym when it's not as full. "These times are usually in the mid-morning hours like 10 to 11 a.m. or the early afternoon hours like 2 to 3 p.m.," she says. "I have found that 2 p.m. is the sweet spot where there is typically few [people] to no one else in the gym. You'll feel more confident and more free to explore the gym and equipment."