In a bizarre, almost oxymoron type of way, we want to be comfortable while working out. Sure, we’ll be sweaty and moving around and sort of in pain from doing too many dumbbell reps. But we want to be comfortable while doing so.
At the top of every new year, most people make resolutions in hopes to better themselves. The most popular New Year’s resolution is to start being active and working out. It’s always great to try and better ourselves but sometimes being a newbie to practices others have mastered is intimidating.
Personally, as someone who had a workout regime that was in and out of the gym, the feeling of people judging me reigned heavy on my brain. So much so that it would be hard to focus on my workout for the day. The constant back and forth resulted in not being consistent. But most importantly, I wasn’t confident in my abilities at the gym because I kept restarting there every few months. The feeling of judgment always came back.
I’m not the only one who has struggled with the nervous feeling happening at the gym. I’m going to pass on some wise words a person told me– “nobody is watching you, and people are focusing on themselves, trust me.”
While that’s a nice sentiment and it makes sense because those who are persistent gym-goers are super swole, and only care about themselves and how beefy they’re getting. I kid! Seriously though, from my experience, I think I spent more time watching others than others spend watching me. Those who went to the same gym as I did focus on themselves.
Still, this may be a stressful thought you have, and if so, there are ways to succeed in your fitness goals without dampening or extinguishing them because of gym anxiety. By the way, these feelings are totally valid, and it happens to the best of us.
Finding a workout style that best suits you.
A conventional gym may be a tad too much for someone. There are so many machines, it is equipment overload. A better option is taking a workout class or attending a gym that specializes in a specific type of exercise; like yoga or Pilates.
Also, conventional gym workouts can be boring for some people and uninspiring if you’re just starting out. By no means am I a fitness expert, but I am an expert in boredom and sometimes after a set I’ll pack my things and skedaddle. But attending a concentrated gym can be super motivating because instructors have high spirits. It’s also a more closed environment with fewer people and distractions that can help you focus on your workout as well as not feeling so self-conscious.
Working out at home.
Another great option is to workout at home. In fact, when the pandemic hit, we were all forced to take our outside activities inside. Many people built at-home gyms to suffice the working out bug.
By working out at home, you’re already in an environment that is most comfortable for you. And a little spoiler, you don’t need excessive amounts of equipment to get a good burn in. You only need your body. If you do want equipment, it’s easily accessible at stores and online; you can get equipment specifically catered to you and your body's needs and goals.
The luxury of the internet is that everything is at the touch of a button. As of right now, I have a personalized gym in my home. I use it (or try to) almost every day. I find I reach my fitness goals best when I’m home. More times than not, I’m following workout videos on YouTube. If I want the instructor-student interaction, or having a buddy to workout with, or someone to push me to keep going, this certainly helps.
Some great YouTube fitness channels that I subscribe to are growwithjo, Body Project, and POPSUGAR Fitness. All three channels have motivating instructors and different difficulty/impact workouts with little to no equipment. I always try to do a different workout video each time to keep my mind stimulated.
One of the easiest forms of at-home exercise is walking. See what parks or trails are nearby and utilize them. Put your headphones on and listen to music, a podcast, or an audiobook and just walk. By the time you know it, you’ve walked five miles, easy peasy.
Movement is key.
I want to note that if you want to master the conventional gym and get over your anxiety while there, I applaud you. I think that is a fantastic goal to reach. We should all set goals for ourselves.
Working out happens best when you’re not thinking about it. When it isn’t a chore. The most important thing is that you’re moving your body and treating it well. If you’re in a place that makes you uncomfortable, then you aren’t going to make movement in your body. If you want to better yourself, then the best thing to do is find what works for you.
By Kim Monetti