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How To Get Over The Fear of The Gym

As human beings, one of our biggest underlying fears is the fear of being publicly humiliated.

Our image-obsessed society is driven by the need to be accepted. Nobody wants to be judged or laughed at.

Just look at Instagram. Some people spend hours crafting the perfect selfie just to gain ‘likes’ from people they don’t even know (or like, a lot of the time). Everybody is trying to appear perfect.

Today’s post is not about ‘gym motivation’. I’ve done plenty of posts pertaining to that, and I think it’s fair to say we’re all a bit fed up of the cliche motivational quotes and images.

Today, I’m going to give some practical advice to people who are new to fitness (or returning to it after a long lay-off).

Something I hear very often is people telling me they want to get in shape before they sign up for the gym.

Why?

It all goes back to fear of public humiliation.

‘I don’t want people to laugh because I’m skinny and weak.’

‘I have love handles and a big belly, I don’t want people to see that.’

‘I might not be wearing the right gym gear.’

‘People will know I don’t have any idea what I’m doing.’

‘All the big guys will make fun of me and call me a loser.’ (Mainly guys)

‘All the girls are fitness models, they’ll look down on me’. (Mainly girls, and some guys).

The list goes on and on, but at the core, it’s all about the fear of being humiliated.

I have some advice for how to get over the fear of going to the gym. Because if you don’t overcome this fear, you will remain fat/skinny/weak/insert negative descriptive here.

Here we go.

 

 


Get a PT.

This is an obvious one – with a PT, you’ll feel more comfortable moving around the gym as they’ll be physically present, providing you support in what can seem a very foreboding situation.

Plus, the trainer can introduce you to other PTs and gym members, thus increasing your sense of comfort.


Get a gym partner.

This way you won’t feel like 2Pac in 1996 (….) and you’ll have a bit more confidence in the way you carry yourself.


Don’t go to the busy parts of the gym yet.

Many inexperienced male trainees and women are fearful of going into the free weights area of the gym due to the male-dominated presence.

That’s fine – just don’t go there until you feel prepared. Spend time working on the fundamentals of training so that when you do eventually venture there, you feel confident that you know what you’re doing. Most gyms have more quiet areas where you can do press-ups, pull-ups, squats, dumbbell floor presses etc.

These are bread and butter movements. Once you get a grip of them, you will be able to transition seamlessly to the squat racks and weights area without feeling out of place.


Go to the gym during the less busy periods
(typically from 9am-5pm).

Use these more quiet times to learn how to navigate the gym and practice the fundamental exercises. Gradually over time, you can go at busier times (if you need to, that is.. I personally hate going at busy times because the training session usually sucks!). This is a form of exposure therapy.


Make friends.

Don’t take this to mean that you need to spend an hour talking to everyone and barely training, but at least be on good terms with a few people. Say hi, exchange small talk, then get on with your workout. This will transform your perception of the gym into a much more welcoming, positive place.

If you don’t know how to make friends, just ask a PT or gym member for advice on how to do an exercise. Unless they’re a complete sociopath, they will usually take the time to help you out and feel happy you asked.


Buy some workout gear that fits you and looks good.

‘Look good, feel good’ as the saying goes.

If you’re wearing your stained jogging bottoms and a t-shirt so tight you can see your heart beating, it’s probably best to pay a visit to Nike.com and order some new gear. (Sidenote: men – please stop wearing tight spandex in the gym, it’s unnecessary.)


Get some good headphones.

Listen to music that pumps you up. Music can get you into a more positive state and less focused on what’s happening around you. Get noise-cancelling ones for an even greater effect.


Realise that everyone starts somewhere.

Unless you’re taking performance enhancing drugs  genetically blessed, you will have to work your way up the totem pole just like everybody else. It doesn’t matter if you can’t lift the same weight as the next person. Just keep working and you will eventually get there.


Choose the right gym

If the gym you go to is unwelcoming, the staff are rude, and you really just don’t feel at ease, go somewhere else. Environment and the people around you are important.

At the very least you want a gym where people are neutral. Ideally, you’ll find one that matches your personality.

If you are a bodybuilder and enjoy shouting and screaming during workouts, join a gym with a culture like that. If you enjoy a more athletic style of training, find a good strength and conditioning gym that caters to your training. If you just can’t stand gyms, train outside. You can still do good things.

Hope this helps guys.. hit me up and tell me if this resonates with you.

Mustafa