For many, gym anxiety is a major barrier to reaching weight loss and fitness goals. The fear of being watched and critiqued by others is enough to prevent many from even stepping into the gym.
There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to reach your goals but feel held back by your fears. Hopefully this will help you conquer those fears and start moving closer to your goals.
Last week, I fell into this trap and allowed someone to ruin my workout. I left the gym feeling frustrated and frankly, pissed off. Thankfully this doesn’t happen often.
Here is what happened
I was getting ready to start the first superset of my workout at the gym. It was a Friday night around 5:30pm so the gym was not very busy. Mind you, supersetting is the ONLY way that I get my workouts done these days. It’s fast, super effective for losing weight and toning muscle and its not boring.
What is supersetting?
Basically, it is picking several exercises and performing them in rotation for a given number of sets.
Each superset I do typically takes about 10-15 minutes at most depending on the body parts I am working. I pick 2-3 exercises that can be done in one small area or with one piece of equipment. On this particular day, I was working back, biceps and abs.
I began my circuit with lat pull downs followed by dumbbell bicep curls and then mountain climbers. While I was on my round of mountain climbers, I gazed up to see a large, older man standing in front of me pointing to the lat pulldown cable machine that I was using. I could tell he was annoyed.
I finished my set early in order to stand up and remove my headphones to hear him better. He asked if I was using the lat pulldown. I politely informed him that I was however he was more than welcome to work in with me.
He rolled his eyes, gave me an extremely irritated look and walked away annoyed or pissed off, but probably both.
Typically, this does not bother me. I never hog equipment and always offer for someone to work in with me if they want to use whatever I am using. There is nothing worse than wanting to use a piece of equipment and someone is occupying it for the duration of their workout.
However, in this particular scenario, there were multiple lat pulldown cable machines open and this man could have easily found another one.
And he did…RIGHT NEXT TO ME
While moving on with my workout, I could feel him glaring and staring at me as I proceeded with my superset. He even shook his head in annoyance while watching me.
Apparently he did not realize that we were both using the exact same piece of equipment for roughly the EXACT same duration of time. While he chose to take long rests and worry more about what I was doing than his own workout, I threw in other exercises to keep me moving.
This was the first time in all my years of being in a gym that I felt very uncomfortable.
So uncomfortable that I ended my workout early.
Later that night I started wondering if this feeling of being watched and critiqued in the gym is sabotaging people from reaching their weight loss and fitness goals?
If so, how can I help?!
We have enough barriers to working out, intimidation and fear should not be another.
Many gym goers feel a little intimidated in the gym because either they don’t know what to do or feel insecure that people are watching them exercise.
After my experience with this grouchy man, I TOTALLY GET IT.
This was my AH-HA moment. I could see how a person who does not feel comfortable in the gym can feel intimidated to workout and therefore, SABOTAGES WEIGHT LOSS OR FITNESS GOALS!
What does my story have to do with helping you reaching your fitness or weight loss goals?
Working out can be extremely intimidating, epecially if you are unsure of what to do or where to start. Many avoid the gym not only because they fear being watched but also because they feel intimidated or embarrassed.
I have had many clients express their insecurities in feeling like people are watching how well they perform exercises, how fast they run or how long they work out. I have been there myself in feeling these same things.
Finding ways to block out what you may feel are judgemental stares is not easy. But it is this feeling of intimidation and anxiety that could be sabotaging your goals and results.
Remove the fear of what others may say or think and put that energy toward your success.
So, how can you block out what you think are judgmental stares to reach your weight loss goals?
1. CREATE A PLAYLIST THAT PUMPS YOU UP
Music not only helps us block out the distraction of feeling insecure in the gym but it can also distract you from the perceived effort you feel during your workout leading to greater weight loss results.
Makes sense. Many people find exercise uncomfortable and even unbearable at times. Rocking out to your favorite music can offer the distraction you need to push yourself a little harder.
A couple other benefits of rocking out during your workout is it helps put you “in the zone”, increase workout intensity, enhance mood and even make you want to move more.
Having the right headphones makes all the difference in the world when it comes to blocking out distraction in the gym. A good pair of noise canceling headphones can really help you get in the zone.
2. FIND A WORKOUT BUDDY
Having a workout buddy not only helps boost motivation but it also helps you feel more confident in your exercises because you are not doing them alone.
A workout buddy can also help distract you from feeling like others are watching you in the gym.
But a word of caution, refrain from using the time to catch up on gossip because this could sabotage your goals as well. Stay focused in the workout and then gossip after!
3. HAVE A PLAN OF ACTION
I would venture to say that most struggle with gym anxiety (including myself at times) because we don’t know what to do or where to start.
In a world of overwhelming amount of information, it can be very challenging to have a plan of action in reaching your weight loss or fitness goals.
There is nothing worse than getting to the gym only to be frustrated because you don’t know what to do. If you are just starting out, don’t be afraid to ask for help or tips. Creating an effective workout routine can be very confusing. Just remember, the only wrong way to lose weight is to not try.
Don’t worry about being perfect, just start slow and you’ll learn different exercises and routines as you go. We all start somewhere and everyone has had their “first day at a gym experience.”
Jot down a few exercises you want to try then stay focused on your action plan. This helps remove the distraction of worrying what others are thinking.
I can PROMISE YOU that 99% of the people in the gym are not paying attention to how you workout!
4. PRACTICE AT HOME
Your home is the best place to practice new exercises because no one is watching. Well except for you kids but they don’t count!
If you don’t feel comfortable doing movements such as squats, bicep curls or lunges at the gym, grab a couple dumbbells and practice at home in front of a mirror or video yourself until you feel comfortable and confident to try the exercises at the gym.
5. REMEMBER YOUR GOALS
Staying focused on your goals will leave less room in your mind to worry about what you assume others may be thinking.
Most of us are held back in reaching our goals because we worry too much what others may think. I do this a lot. The only person this affects is YOU.
If you’re afraid to run faster on the treadmill because you fear falling off, try it anyway! If you’re afraid to superset because you fear someone might comment that you’re hogging equipment, offer to let them jump in and superset with you.
Remember, the gym is a place to help you reach your health and fitness goals and reduce daily stress and anxiety. Not a place to feel MORE anxious.
So, I hope these tips help boost some confidence and motivation to reach your weight loss or fitness goals!
I have put together a FREE 14 Day Fitness Guide that will give some workout ideas and tips to help you get started. If you ever have any questions but don’t feel comfortable asking anyone in person, I am ALWAYS here to offer any help, tips, motivation or support that I can to help you reach your goals!
Want to lose weight but don't know where to start?
Here is a FREE two week guide plus 11 BONUS WORKOUTS Fitness, Meal & Goal Setting Worksheets!