Gym Anxiety

I don’t know about you, but I’m usually the only person over 35 in the gym.  I’ve always worked out, skied, run, played tennis and golf…..but there is nothing as intimidating as walking into the gym to lift weights.  It’s not just a rumor…’s downright scary.   Most of us feel this way, am I right ladies?! Many opt to work out at home, or simply stay in the cardio rooms to avoid other gym-goers. Maybe you go to get the weights you need, then find a quiet corner to do your workouts uninterrupted…someplace dark and unoccupied:)

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get your workouts in without feeling like eyes are all on you, but the last thing I would want is for gym anxiety to paralyze you and prevent you from crushing  (or starting) your workouts altogether. So, if you have ever felt nervous or intimidated heading to the gym or near the weight lifting section, here are my top tips for working past gym anxiety (I’m going to shock you here and not include cocktails or drinking of any kind.)


1. Focus on YOU. Not anyone else. Give yourself a pep talk on your way to the gym or when you’re walking over to get the weights you need.  This is totally for YOU.


2. Please know – most people at the gym are actually too busy looking at themselves and their points of concern. And when their eyes DO wander, it’s because they’re curious who is looking at THEM. Not the other way around. ? If you feel like eyes are on you, remind yourself they’re likely just thinking about themselves. It’s usually true!


3. In the ultra-rare case someone is watching you, even critiquing you, keep reminding yourself that you are there to improve. Your form isn’t perfect and they’re noticing? Well keep crushing your workout because in two weeks, they’ll notice how much you improved. Let your improvements in form, strength and endurance be an inspiration to others.  Everyone has to start, right?  Be confident.  Move forward.  It WILL show!


4. Remember not to compare your current point to someone else’s “been working out for 20 years” point. If you see someone in the gym who is absolutely killing it and you feel you’re just not at that level yet, consciously remind yourself that they, too, started at Level 1. Keep going and you’ll be at your own level 20 before you know it!


5. If the unthinkable happens and someone makes a nasty comment to you, remember this is a reflection of THEMSELVES. Even if they “physically” look great, if they have a nasty heart inside, no six pack, lean arms or low body fat percentage will ever make them look good. If they feel the need to say something to someone who is clearly trying to better themselves, they must be hurting inside.


6. Remember not everyone has physical goals. At some point, you will begin to work out because you love it, not just because you want a great body. You can also work out to have both! But if you see someone who isn’t as physically fit, but they’re at the gym, just think of all the non-physical benefits they’re experiencing. Those non-physical benefits are just as important as the physical ones.


7. Focus on the big picture. If you’re feeling nervous or anxious about going to the gym, try to ask yourself, “In one year, will I remember this day?” Likely, you won’t. Try not to let things the little things get to your head. And let me just say, I KNOW this is easier said than done. But still try to make an effort to tell yourself not to stress over the small things. The stress alone is more damaging than the act itself.


8. Remember that this journey requires you to get uncomfortable. If you’re pushing yourself, not even just physically but mentally and emotionally, that’s a good thing! Learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It builds character. ?  Don’t we all feel like we have enough of the “character” thing?? heehee


9. Get SO in the zone that you don’t even notice who else is around. This is a win-win since it pretty much guarantees a killer workout!! Try not to think about it and just park your car, walk in, get your weights, and absolutely crush it. Then walk out like a boss. ?  total swagger!


10. Go to the gym prepared. There’s nothing worse than wandering around the gym, not sure what to do next. If you’re not following a set workout program, that tells you EXACTLY what to do, I highly recommend following one. It will take away the in-between moments when you’re figuring out what to do next.  It makes you feel more confident.


11. Avoid the gym at peak hours. Even I do this! You can get in and out of the gym much quicker when it’s less packed. Usually peak hours are between 7-8am and in the evenings. Try going at 6am to beat the crowds or in the middle of the day if your schedule allows. I know a 6am workout sounds brutal, but I promise you’ll feel great the rest of the day! ?


12. Bring a workout buddy!  It’s my personal opinion that we could solve the world’s problems with a “gal pal” meeting…..greatest free shrink stuff ever!  The gym is much less intimidating if you have someone there you know and trust. You can watch each other’s form, take videos for each other so you can watch the playback and see where you can improve your form (super helpful) and just overall feel less anxiety since you’re focusing on each other, and not everyone else that’s in the gym.


13. Lastly, don’t feel you’re an inconvenience to others in the gym. You need a set of dumbbells? Go get em’. You need the squat rack and someone is using it? Ask how many sets they have left. (This will give them a mental note that you’re next in line should anyone else try to swoop it up before you.) Need the only free bench that’s left? Get it before someone else does. YOU deserve to be in the gym just as much as anyone else does, no matter how fit they are or how fit you feel you aren’t. YOU. DESERVE. THIS. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise, not even yourself.


? My two questions for you are:


  1. Which of these tips do you feel will help you the most or is the most true to your experience?
  2. What is your experience with gym anxiety, and what did you do to overcome it? Share in the comments below to help other fabulous “over 30” women out there!  Power in numbers, right?  So true.

Looking forward to reading your answers in the comments below! I hope this helps you crush your next workout, and all your workouts after that!

xoxo, Rosanna
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