Mind & Body
How to Get Over a Fear of Going to the Gym
I know countless people who have set out to start new training programs in order to get into shape, but who have then unfortunately failed to stick to their plans. These people will start out with good intentions to completely transform their bodies and will fully intend on going to the gym four or five times a week, but will find that life quickly gets in the way and prevents them from keeping up the new routine.
These people of course will unfortunately fail to get into the kind of shape they want, but they are actually still ahead of the many other people who never even make it that far. The many people who never even make it into the gym once because they’re too apprehensive…
If you’re among that number then don’t feel too bad – after all it’s more common than you think. Do read on though, and we’ll take a look at what you can do about it…
Where Does a Fear of the Gym Come From?
So to start with, why are you afraid of going to the gym? Where could such an apprehension come from to begin with?
Well, chances are that there are a number of factors contributing to that fear, which might include:
Fear of Being Seen: Many people simply feel very self-conscious when going to the gym, believing themselves to be too out of shape to have a place in the gym, or just not wanting to be seen pumping iron/running on the treadmill and getting all red, hot and sweaty. Let’s be honest, none of us are at our most attractive when we’re training in the gym…
Fear of Getting it Wrong: Another fear of going to the gym may be that you’ll do something wrong while lifting the weights – that you’ll perhaps drop something and hurt yourself, or that you’ll make a big crash and break one of the machines. Sometimes the various machines in the gym can seem like an array of torture devices and this can understandably be off-putting for a nervous newbie.
Social: If you’re someone who hates small-talk or socialising, especially first thing in the morning or when you’re concentrating on other things, then you might be nervous to head to the gym where you’ll almost undoubtedly have to talk to at least the receptionist and a couple of other guys around the gym. It doesn’t help either that these characters are probably hugely beefy/toned and oozing confidence, which leaves you looking like an idiot trying to make small-talk about the weather. And then there’s the fear of facing up to your personal trainer asking where you’ve been for the last week and why you missed your last session. They’re trying to encourage you, but it can end up forcing you to avoid going altogether!
Physical: Finally there’s the concern that going to the gym is just going to be too tiring, stressful and painful which exacerbates all these other issues. When you go to the gym for the first time, you know it then means you’ll have to keep going every week for months on end. Thus the fear kicks in and you start trying to put-off/avoid the idea of going that first time and sealing your own fate as it were.
How to Overcome These Fears
So the question you now need to ask yourself is what you can do to overcome these fears and get yourself down to the gym anyway.
Really the only real way to overcome such fears and to get yourself used to the idea of working out at the gym, is to force yourself to the gym on just a couple of occasions at which point you’ll quickly find you adapt and start to find the place is actually quite relaxing and therapeutic in its way. I had a gym buddy at University who absolutely refused to ever step foot inside the free weights section with all the beefy guys who would look at him and judge. I managed to convince him to go in there anyway though, and after just one go he quickly became a fan and was just as enthusiastic about it as I was.
Easing Yourself In
Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple though, is it? If you’re afraid of going to the gym, then me telling you to just ‘go anyway’ is hardly going to make much difference.
What you need to do then is to find ways to ‘ease’ your way into the gym and to make the first several sessions a little less scary.
One way you can do this is to use the same trick my friend did: which is to go with a gym buddy who is confident in the gym and who can help to show you the ropes. This takes away the fear of getting things wrong, the fear of having to talk to people and more. Furthermore, when there are two of you you’ll find that you feel a lot less self-conscious. There is strength in numbers! Don’t have a friend you can bring to the gym with you? Then try talking to a member of staff and getting a training session.
Another trick is to go at times when the gym is really quiet. This might mean on a Sunday afternoon, early in the morning, or late at night. That way you reduce the amount of people who can see you and the chances of being judged/having to make awkward conversation etc. On the other hand, you might prefer to go at peak time when it’s really crowded and you can more easily ‘blend in’. Decide which you’d prefer and then give that a go!
Additionally, you should make sure to design your gym sessions in such a way that it will be scary to think about and that it will make you feel less self-conscious. You can actually get a great workout for any body part by staying on just one machine. The cable curl for instance will let you do a great workout for your biceps by using different grips and attachments, by throwing in drop sets and pyramid sets and more. Thus you can stand in the corner of the gym for your whole workout and get it finished much more quickly without having to move around. Far less scary!
Finally, try talking to some of those meatheads and asking them if you can get them to spot you or show you how to use the incline bench press. It will be scary at first, but very quickly you’ll realise that these are very sound guys who aren’t judging you at all. That’s the thing about people who are confident in their bodies – they have no reason to be unpleasant.
If you’re a little overweight then so what? I guarantee there’s someone there who’s five times bigger than you. And no one is going to judge you for being in the gym – if anything they will be impressed that you’re making the effort to make a change.
About the Author: Adam Sinicki is a full time writer who spends most of his time in the coffee shops of London. Adam has a BSc in psychology and is an amateur bodybuilder with a couple of competition wins to his name. His other interests are self improvement, general health, transhumanism and brain training. As well as writing for websites and magazines, he also runs his own sites and has published several books and apps on these topics. He lives in London, England with his girlfriend and in his spare time he enjoys climbing, travelling, playing games, reading comics and eating sandwiches. Circle Adam on Google+!
Article Source: Health Guidance