10 Ways To Get Over Gym Phobia

Many of us want to live healthier lives, but are anxious of going to the gym. I have listed 10 ways to help people get over gym phobia.

The fear of being naked is called gymnophobia and there is a reason the word gym is in it. Going to the gym makes us feel exposed and vulnerable. We put ourselves out there, on display for everyone to see. We want to go to the gym to get in shape and live the life we know that we deserve.

However, being in a place where everyone is in shape, makes us feel vulnerable because we compare ourselves to others. We feel naked, exposed, and vulnerable. But there are ways to get over your fears at the gym and build confidence. Here are ten different ways to get over your fear of going to the gym. 

10 Ways to Get Over Gym Phobia
Image Source: Women's Running

1. Find the Gym That Works for You

There are many different types of gyms out there. Gyms cater to their clientele after all. There are bodybuilder gyms, women-only gyms, and gyms for beginners.

Taking a tour of different facilities helps you find what you are comfortable with. You will learn a lot about a place by simply touring the facility. A first-hand account of the place is better than a second-hand review.

10 Ways to Get Over Gym Phobia
Image Source: Methodist University 

In college, I decided to sign up for a gym membership at Planet fitness, even though I already had one at my college. I did not like using the gym at my college because it was mostly filled with student-athletes.

Everyone else there was already in shape, knew what they were doing, and had a routine, while I did not. I decided to go to a place where I felt more comfortable because that gave me the confidence to work out.  A part of being confident is in finding a space where you feel comfortable. 

2. Research Different Types of Gym Equipments

To feel more confident, you should research the different types of gym equipment and exercises. When you are uncertain of what to do, your confidence fades.

different gym equipment

Most people avoid machines and free weights, simply because they do not know how to use them. There are a variety of ways to find out more about machines, equipment, and exercises. With the different amounts of knowledge you accumulate, the more you will know what to do.  

My gym had an app that showed me the different types of equipment, what part of the body was targeted, and how to use the machine properly. The app also offered a variety of different types of exercise, that ranged from beginner to advanced.

Now that I knew how the weight machines worked, I felt more confident using the equipment. This was because I took the time to research the different types of equipment. 

3. Set a Time Limit for your workout

In a scientific article written by Isaac Marks, who works at the University of London, the benefits of exposure therapy are reviewed. By constantly exposing ourselves to what causes fear or anxiety, people are better able to tolerate their phobia.

workout time

In other words, to help get over this fear of unfamiliar places, such as the gym, people need to be consistent to build up their confidence through prolonged exposure. Fear is only overcome by facing them, but you can control how long to face them. 

When I started going to the gym, I decided to set a timer for thirty minutes. I’d work out until the timer went off, then I would leave. As I frequented the gym more, I increased my time limit.

I went from thirty to forty, to fifty, until I was finally at the gym for an hour. When I made it to the end of the timer, I felt good about myself because I felt like I was working on my fears. This helped me to build confidence. 

4. Know that it’s Acceptable to Start Small

By starting off with a set of light weights you are able to properly learn an exercise. Building muscles or losing weight takes time, effort, and consistency.

It’s important that you understand the motions of an exercise, have control over the weights and are in the proper position yourself during a set.

Swinging a heavy set of weights around, will not help you. It will most likely hurt you in the process. Don’t hurt yourself, to keep up with your ego.

Start small and work your way up gradually. After all, nothing hurts your ego more than hurting yourself in front of others.   

10 ways to Get Over Gym Phobia
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I learned this lesson the hard way. I tried to lift more than I could handle and ended up hurting my knees. I had to take it easy for 3 months so that my muscles could recover. This impacted every part of my life. After I recovered, I took everything gradually so that I could work my way up and keep myself safe. 

5. Avoid Peak Hours    

If you want to build confidence in the gym, avoid peak hours. Naturally, you will compare yourself to others and in the early stages of going to the gym, this is disheartening.

By giving yourself time to ease into a space, you are more likely to feel comfortable. When you're first learning how to swim you don't jump into a pool full of people, you start off small in a non-crowded space.    

10 Ways to Get Over Gym Phobia
Image Source: The Odyssey Online 

I don't go during peak hours at my gym. This is because more machines are available, I'm able to practice new exercises, and the locker room is less crowded. I am more comfortable with how much more is available, without all of the gym members there. I don’t go during peak hours because I'm more comfortable working out by myself. 

6. Start by Changing at Home

Getting changed in a room full of strangers is nerve-wracking. The thought of stripping in a room full of strangers is uncomfortable, especially if we are unhappy with the way we look.

gym clothes
image source: nbcnews

People who start going to the gym have problems with their body image. We are afraid that others will judge us, as harshly, as we judge ourselves. To avoid this simply change before you go to the gym until you are comfortable changing in front of others.   

7. It’s Okay to Sweat

You're going to sweat, it's going to happen no matter what. The gym is the one place where it's socially acceptable to sweat. There really is not a need to feel embarrassed because you are working on yourself.

sweating in the gym
image source: verv

You are only going to lose weight or gain muscle by putting in hard work. Sweating is a sign that you are working on yourself. 

When I go to the gym, I usually wear dark-colored polyester shirts. Polyester is lightweight and moisture-wick, which means that your sweat marks will not be as visible and that it will evaporate faster than if you wore a cotton T-shirt.    

8. Take a Friend with You

We are more comfortable when we have someone by our side, so take a friend. Whenever we want to feel more confident we want to have someone by our side. By going with a friend, we feel that we can do more than if we went by ourselves. So take a friend or make a gym buddy.

10 Ways to Get Over Gym Phobia
Source Image: PureGym

After work, I would go to the gym with my friend. In the beginning, it was more comfortable than going by me and it gave us time to catch up. I was able to build up confidence this way because I knew that I was not alone.

9. Create a Playlist to keep you motivated during a workout

Music alters our mood, so make a playlist. If you want to feel more confident then play your favorite songs. If you feel yourself quitting play an upbeat song and if you start to slow down play slower songs. Music will help you get into a headspace that allows you to perform at peak performance.

workout music
image source: cahutefit

10. Focus on Your Growth Not on Self Doubt

Focus on yourself and not others, because you came to the gym for yourself. We all have anxious thoughts but that doesn't mean we should give in to them. You should focus on your growth and not your self-doubt.

To celebrate your successes, remind yourself that you are doing good and have come a long way. Even if you've only gone to the gym one day, remember that's one day more than you've gone. Celebrate your success. 

10 Ways to Get Over Gym Phobia
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