This topic is something I’m sure every gym goer can relate to at some stage in their life.
Believe it or not, but even the great Ben Coleman Fitness suffered from gym anxiety and everyday anxiety in the past.
Anxiety can be a crippling, debilitating and invisible disease which many of us face day to day in various scenarios of life. Whether it be general anxiety, social anxiety, phobias or even panic disorders, you’re not alone in that many of us deal with this on some form of level everyday.
If you are an anxious person, then starting the gym can be a terrifying and uncomfortable experience. I know, I’ve been there!
When I first joined the gym back in uni days, I would purposely workout at off peak times to avoid any contact with people. Not because I wanted the gym to myself, but because I was anxious, intimidated and paranoid that I was being watched and laughed at. It was awful because I had these amazing fitness goals that I wanted to achieve, but they were stumped by my (usually made up) thoughts.
How did you overcome this I hear you ask? You can use these following tips too.
Time was one of the biggest factors that helped me. I knew I wasn’t going to let my anxiety stop me from hitting my goals, because training actually helped my day to day anxiety and made me the confident, happy chappy you see today. So I just kept on going to the gym and putting in the graft, and the more times I went, the more I felt I belonged. It was familiar, the people were familiar, and I felt more at home and at ease. When it came to changing gyms, It would happen all over again. New gym, new people, same anxious self again :(. But! I saw a pattern in time and used this determined attitude to overcome the emotions because I knew it wouldn’t last forever… and it didn’t.
Education played a huge role in my anxiety. When I first entered a gym I had no idea what I was doing. There were muscle bound lads in there who seemed like they had their shit together and were confident in what they were doing. I on the other hand, was a scrawny 18 year old, without a clue and acne for days!! After a while at uni, studying more and more and learning the fundamentals of training and nutrition, I had a sense of confidence when I walked into the gym. I knew that even If I was’t doing what the roid heads were doing, I was doing it right and correctly. And if I was doing what the roid munchers were doing, then I’d look over and think, “he knows what he’s doing. Good lad!”. I’m not saying you need to go to university to be comfortable in the gym. Just try to educate yourself on what it is you’re doing. Learn from credible sources online, learn from me, or another great PT you know.
Lastly, get in the zone! This means, plug your loudest and most upbeat tunes in your ears and imagine you are the only one in that gym, even if it’s packed out. Imagine with every lift, sprint or jump you’re trying to set a world record. Put in maximal effort with everything you do regardless of who you think is watching.
If you’re feeling the fear in the gym, I guarantee at least one other person, maybe more, is also feeling the same just metres away from you.
A great book to read for more of this is ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway‘
I hope this helped.