How to overcome gym nerves

words Al Woods

overcome gym nerves

What’s your relationship with the gym like? Do you go regularly or have you been meaning to get back to it?

For many, the start of a new year is a time to reflect on fitness goals. In fact, 12% of new gym memberships come in January. But 14% of us quit by the end of February. Stats like these reveal just how hard it can be to get into a routine. But for many – even for those who go regularly as well as those who are newbies – setting foot in the gym in the first place can be nerve-wracking.

If you’re thinking of signing up for a membership or you simply want to do a trial run but you’re feeling a bit intimidated, you’re not alone. Here, we look at how common it is to be nervous and look at ways to overcome the gym-going jitters.

Why are we scared?

We know that exercise is good for us. Moving our bodies and keeping fit keeps our bodies healthy and can boost our self-esteem and mood. There are plenty of forms of exercise, too. We can dance, jog, take a walk. But for many, the gym is an option that allows us to focus on certain aspects of our fitness journey – yet the idea of entering a gym can still be daunting, whether it’s the first time you’re there or you’re back after a break.

But what exactly is it that makes it so scary? According to a recent survey by Hunkemöller, the lingerie and hosiery specialist, there are several reasons why we’re intimidated. Over quarter of women who were questioned (26%) say they are worried about having a lack of knowledge of exercises to do, while 26% are just generally feeling uncomfortable and that they’re being stared at (22%).

This uncomfortable feeling was the main reason for the nervousness felt by men too (19%). Just under one-fifth (17%) of men said they found the gym equipment intimidating.  

How things look

As well as the confusing equipment and being unsure of what to do being the main driving force for the nerves, there’s also how we look that’s causing stress among budding gym-goers. There are workout clothes that are suited to different forms of exercise, and gym gear it typically particularly close-fitting.

This is why it’s perhaps unsurprising that twice as women than men (20% vs 10%) said they feel self-conscious wearing their gym clothes in this environment. And 15% of women confided that they don’t believe they look good in gym clothing – a hangup that is both illuminating and heartbreaking, especially if there’s a real drive to go to the gym but this self-consciousness is preventing women from achieving their goals.

Finding support

In order to tackle these concerns, it’s important that you find a gym you feel comfortable in. Perhaps you’re one of the 29% of the women who would prefer to go to an all-female gym? Maybe you just need to find a gym instructor who’s supportive and will talk you through the equipment?

When nearly half (49%) of survey respondents say they’re worried about free weights and weight machines,  it’s clear that finding a gym that provides guidance in how to use these properly and safely will go a long way to helping build confidence.

Take the time to research gyms near you. If you’re feeling intimidated, go along with a friend and don’t be afraid to try a few out before you commit to a membership. You’ve got this.


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