Enjoying exercise should be a right, not a privilege! If you need to learn how to get over gym anxiety, this is the post for you.
How To Get Over Gym Anxiety and Create a Workout Routine You Love
The gym can be a seriously intimidating place. Everyone else seems to know what they’re doing, and it can feel like people are staring at you, especially when you are walking around trying to decide where to go or what machine to use first! We’ve all felt that awkwardness, but thankfully, there are plenty of ways to overcome it. In this article, we outline some methods to get over gym anxiety once and for all so you can learn to love the workout routines you create!
Can People With Anxiety Go to the Gym?
First of all, let’s clear something up. People with anxiety can definitely still go to the gym. In fact, it might be the best place for them! Getting regular exercise is one of the best ways to combat feelings of depression and anxiety. According to the experts at Harvard Health, exercise is a fantastic way to distract you from your anxieties.
But what if the gym is the very thing that’s making you anxious in the first place? In those cases, you’ll need to follow a few of our best tips. Before we share them, however, it helps to spend a moment thinking about why you get anxious at the gym in the first place.
Why Do I Have Anxiety About the Gym?
There are numerous reasons why someone might get anxious at the gym. The most common reasons are:
• Being unsure about what to do first or what to do next.
• Having someone judge your body or workout technique.
• Comparing your body or workout to someone else's.
• Imposter syndrome ("I'm not the right type of person to be here.").
• Fearing that you will do something wrong and look like a fool.
How Do I Stop Getting Anxiety at the Gym?
Getting over gym anxiety takes some work, but it is doable. Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Don't Compare Yourself to Others
It's easy to get swept up in comparing yourself to other people at the gym. Maybe you're thinking, "Wow, that person has a six-pack! I want a six-pack too." Or it's something more subtle; maybe you find yourself constantly looking around the room and thinking, "I just don't belong here."
Instead of focusing on what other people are doing—whether it's the guy next to you bench-pressing twice as much weight as you or that girl who looks amazing in every single outfit she wears—focus on your own goals.
Your goal is not to be like anyone else but rather to find something that works for your body type and let yourself enjoy the process of getting healthier.
If you're feeling especially down about yourself or have had negative thoughts creep into your head, try focusing on positive affirmations as you work out:
• “I made a good decision to come here!”
• “I am stronger than I think!”
• “My health is improving every single day.”
2. Be Compassionate About Everyone’s Experience, Including Your Own
As you work out, remember: no one else has exactly your same proportions or muscle memory or bone structure or metabolism; no one else has lived life the way you have; no one else has been through the same situations as you have been through thus far in your life. You are unique—and so is everyone else who walks into the gym with you! Use this fact to have a sense of compassion and empathy for everyone’s experience. Everyone is there for a different reason, and it might not be the reason you think.
This empathy applies to you, too. Be self-compassionate when necessary. Forgive yourself for making mistakes. Celebrate small successes on your path to health. This will help keep anxiety at bay while also keeping motivation high—and it should even lead to some positive body image improvements along the way!
3. Set Realistic Goals and Milestones
Once your initial anxiety is under control, it’s time to move on to the next step in how to get over gym anxiety: setting realistic goals and milestones.
Setting a goal that's achievable gives you something to look forward to and helps keep your spirits up even when the going gets tough. If you know what kind of progress you want to make in terms of strength and endurance, for example, set yourself realistic progressive goals, and there should be no excuse not to achieve them!
It’s also crucial that your goals are specific. In other words, your goals should be able to be measured or quantified in some way (e.g., “I want to be able to bench press 80 pounds for at least four sets of 12 reps.”). That way, once the goal is achieved, you'll know exactly what worked for your success and can adjust accordingly later.
Do this enough, and you’ll quickly find that you are creating exercise routines that you absolutely love and, believe it or not, even look forward to!
How Do I Stop Obsessing Over Exercising?
There are a number of reasons why people obsess over exercise. If you can’t stop worrying about going to the gym, some of the tips we outlined might help. Or you might need to see a professional trainer or even a therapist to help you overcome whatever else is holding you back.
There’s also a risk that you are getting anxious about the gym because you are exercising too much, almost addictively. Everybody needs a break (most professionals recommend you take at least one full day off from exercising each week) to let their muscles rest and repair. But sometimes, leaving your exercise for a whole day can create more anxiety than people realize.
In this case, the advice is the same: get a professional trainer to help you with a sustainable, stress-free routine. Or seek the advice of a therapist who can help you understand why you are worrying like this in the first place.
Whatever path you ultimately take, learning how to get over gym anxiety is good for your physical and mental health all around. Invest the time in making your mind feel better so that you can make your body feel better, too.