Do you have anxiety at the gym? It's very common. Anywhere you look when searching for how to reduce anxiety, getting in a good work-out is always on the list.
I’ve even mentioned it a few times here on my own blog. Exercising is a great way to feel better about yourself.
But, if you have anxiety, you know how difficult it is to get up and work out. There are so many mental roadblocks thrown in our way whenever we want to do something.
Anxiety makes you worry about every possible scenario that could go wrong, and you’re just left feeling confused and unmotivated to try.
Working out at home is one thing but getting to the gym is a whole other story. Hee are some tips for how to deal with anxiety at the gym.
How To Deal With Anxiety At The Gym
Table of Contents
I have gym anxiety, so trying out an exercise I’ve never done before in front of a bunch of strangers at the gym is similar to standing in front of them naked.
- I am so uncomfortable to the point I can’t even focus on the workout.
- I don’t want to look like an idiot in front of the experienced people.
- And there have been times when I really struggled through a workout, just waiting for it to be over so I could go home.
This made wanting to work out very difficult. I come from a family who loves to exercise, so I feel like I should be able to do it with no problem.
All of my siblings have done triathlons, marathons, and IronMans. My dad climbs mountains like Mt. Blanc, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and he just got done climbing Mt. Denali.
Meanwhile, there have been days where I can't even bring myself to get to the freaking gym. But, that's just a part of what anxiety does.
Giving yourself a break and taking baby steps is the best way to make progress.
I am able to go to the gym by myself now, and am ok with it. I still have mental roadblocks, but I work through them. And I'll show you how you can, too!
1. Figure Out Your Reason Why
Exercising is a great way to deal with anxiety, but you have to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
A lot of people like to do it to look better and lose weight. And sometimes that can motivate you at the beginning.
But, it can also lead to a distorted view on exercise. You don’t have to do it just to lose weight.
Determining your reason behind it will help you stick with it. Doing it to maintain anxiety is a great reason, and as a bonus, you'll get into shape in the process.
2. Take it Slow
As you start to exercise, don’t force yourself to do too much at once. Sometimes, just waking up earlier and putting on workout clothes is enough.
I know it might seem weird but take it as slow as you need to. Set mini goals that push you in the right direction.
Then, you can eventually work up to going to the gym for 15 minutes. After that, you can push for 30 minutes. That way, you don’t throw yourself into the fire and never want to go back.
3. Make Sure to Challenge Yourself Mentally
When you have anxiety, there isn’t a moment where you don’t constantly have to challenge your thinking. Otherwise, it can eat you up.
So, as you make progress towards exercise, focus more on building up your mental strength. Instead of physical strength, at least for a while.
Work through your thoughts you have about working out. What prevents you from trying in the first place?
- Is it intimidation at the gym?
- Feeling creepy guys stare at you?
- Lacking the motivation to get outside?
Pay attention to the thoughts that hold you back, then work on those every single day. That’s why starting small is important.
You first have to prove to your brain that exercising isn’t as bad as you’re making it up in your head.
Take 10 minutes a day exercising or walking outside and see how you feel. Then slowly progress from there.
4. Practice Mindfulness at the Gym
Anxiety at the gym usually stems from being unfamiliar with the equipment and what you're supposed to do with it.
Going to the gym when you have no idea what you’re doing is terrifying. So many people are there, and if you catch them staring at you it can feel uncomfortable.
I go to the gym often by myself. And I have a lot of anxiety. At first, it wasn’t easy, but after I worked on mindfulness and just going all the time, it got better.
Practice staying in the present moment and remember why you’re there in the first place.
Think about how your body feels during each exercise. Listen to the music in your headphones and focus on what is right in front of you.
Work on letting go of the fear that everyone is staring at you. Most people have the same worries at the gym, and it’s overwhelming at first. But, people usually only stare because they don’t know what else to do.
When I run on the treadmill, I never know where to look. So, I end up at looking around at all the people. I’m not judging, it’s just that I literally don’t know where else to put my eyes.
5. Spend 10 Minutes Being an Observer
When you first get to the gym and your anxiety is high, try to look for a treadmill or elliptical that’s in the back of the room.
As you get a warm-up in, you can observe what everyone else is doing. This helps give you a better idea if people are actually staring at you, or if it’s all in your head.
You can also look around and see that most people are in the same boat as you. Some people just like to stay on the treadmill the whole time and observe people.
Others are so focused on their own work-out, they don’t even know you’re there. This can help you to stop caring about what other people think. And just focus on doing your own thing.
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6. Do What You Enjoy
If you hate running but do it only because it burns more calories, then stop! I hate playing basketball because I suck at it. That’s not what I’m going to do to get exercise in.
Think about the type of exercise you do enjoy, or what you want to try. There are so many different ways to exercise. I’m sure you can find something that interests you.
- Even if you haven’t tried it before, it’s worth a shot to try out.
Exercising becomes a lot easier when you actually enjoy and look forward to your work-outs. If you hate getting your heart pumping, try yoga or Pilates. Or get a 30-minute walk in each day.
This way you can reduce your anxiety and feel excited about adding it into your daily routine.
6 Ways To Beat Anxiety At The Gym – Conclusion
Anxiety at the gym is completely normal and very common. I completely understand feeling anxious about exercising. When you have a high-anxiety day, doing anything feels like the equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest.
Some days, you will not want to work out at all, and that’s ok! What you can do is stop beating yourself up so much.
Forgive yourself on the days when your anxiety takes over. Progress with anything is not always a straight line.
Sometimes progress is a one-step forward two-steps back type of thing. There will be days that will be harder, and days that will be amazing.
The most important step is to just keep moving forward. Even when you’ve taken two steps back. Just don’t give up, and you will see that your anxiety at the gym will lessen over time.
- Related: How to get out of your comfort zone