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Well, it’s the new year – 2017. And with every new year, there usually comes a “New Year’s Resolution”. A widespread resolution, which we likely hear from many our friends, is hitting the gym (again or for the first time). There’s no doubt about it. Going to the gym for the first time (even if you’ve been there before) can create anxiety. Some of us tend to make excuses so we don’t have to go. We’ll count our fears and reservations about going to the gym before counting the many health benefits that can come along with it.
We understand. If you haven’t been to the gym in a while, it can be nerve-wracking to even think about going there. You may think you’ll work out incorrectly, that you’ll stand out because you think you’re in “worse shape” than those around you, that you’ll hurt yourself, etc. These may be rational or irrational fears. Regardless, they don’t have to hold you back.
So, we’d like to offer up some tips for any of our readers who tend to get gym anxiety. Some of these may really help you jolt out of your comfort zone and into the gym. And you’d be surprised at how much progress you can make in just a short time span if you’re exercising and lifting correctly and regularly.
It’s also very important that you don’t get hurt, which is pretty common, especially among people who don’t know how to lift weights correctly. We’ll get into that as well.
Going to the gym for the first time can be nerve-wracking as is. It may very well help you to bring a friend to the gym. Just make sure you choose the right friend. Someone who is going to blatantly judge you based on your “lack of muscle”, your “current weight”, or your “lack of form” isn’t going to help alleviate that anxiety. Neither will someone who pushes you too hard. But bringing a friend who you’re close with, one that understands your anxiety and cares for your well-being will likely help alleviate your gym anxiety.
A lot of newcomers bring friends to the gym. And where’s the shame in that? You have someone to talk to, someone to imitate in their lifting if they know what they’re doing, and simply someone to help you not think about gym anxiety.
Look into the classes that your gym membership offers. Start off with going to those classes. Ask where the class will be held in the gym, how many people are in the class, how strenuous it is, etc. before signing up, though. You’ll probably want to know everything about it before signing up. And that’s okay. You need to find the right class for you and your needs. And if you’re not fully confident in your form, it’s okay. Your instructor will teach you. That’s the beauty of being in a class. Show up early if need be to let your instructor know you’re new to this. And there are sure to be others in your class with similar gym anxiety. It might even be a good place to make new friends with the same fitness goals!
If you take a look at Google Maps, many franchise gyms will mark down when their gym is full and when it’s not so full. If you can, avoid times when the gym is full. This might help alleviate your anxiety until you start to feel better about going during peak hours (if they’re more convenient). Bring some music along with you – any music that motivates you or helps alleviate your gym anxiety.
When you first go to the gym, map the place out. And know what you’re working out before you go. It’s a good idea to know what you’re there to work out (be it cardio, your arms, legs or back) and have a set plan for each exercise/workout. If you wander around without knowing where to go, this may create more anxiety for you.
Many gyms will let you work out with a personal trainer for a free trial. This might help alleviate you gym anxiety. If they were the judgmental type, they wouldn’t have that job. It’s their job to help show you your own potential. They’ll help you in getting your form down, which may alleviate that fear of working out with incorrect form and being judged for it.
Research correct form and good gym etiquette. Knowing good form will instill confidence in you when you do go to work out. So why not browse online and get to know the different types of workouts you can do to meet your needs. If you know your stuff, you might just end up impressing others!
Confidence isn’t just a feeling – it’s a look. If you walk into a gym, be confident. Don’t be overly-confident, but hold yourself up high. You’re making progress, even if it’s just day 1. Don’t stress the people around you, the shape they’re in, or anything. You likely don’t know how long they’ve been working out for much like they don’t know anything about you. And believe it or not, most people really aren’t looking at you. If they’re smart gym goers, they’re paying close attention to their own workouts. They’re there for the exact same reason you are – to get fit. So, just stay confident, wear your confidence, and you likely won’t feel as stressed about not being in shape like the others. None of us are in the same shape. All of us lead different lifestyles. That’s important to remember.
So, if your New Year’s Resolution is to get back to the gym, and you’re anxious about it, take some of these tips with you. Never start off as if you’re an advanced gym goer. This is surely a way to injure yourself. If you’re doing cardio, don’t push it too hard in the beginning. If you’re lifting weights, don’t “ego lift”, or lift more than you can handle. Measure out what you can lift, and get your form down before anything.
In the beginning, you may be anxious to go. But, if you start to go and keep up the good work, you may very well find yourself getting anxious if you don’t go.