Tackling your gym anxiety


By Juliette Francoise Dudley, Third Year, Hispanic studies

The Croft Magazine // Debunking all your gym anxieties from an unfit gym novice.

Whilst joining may be scary the positive emotions are so worth it | Epigram / Juliette Francoise Dudley, Emily Fromant

Being generally active by going to the gym or engaging in any sport has become one of my biggest fears. I used to be incredibly sporty and fit; playing county hockey and being Midlands champion for judo. However, after a stagnant past three years, the battle between the anxiety that comes from going to the gym and the reiterated message that exercise is good for my mental health has finally ceased.

Most people have experienced gym anxiety at some point in their life, regardless of size, age, gender or fitness level. Although I am not sure of the root of my own uneasiness, I know that the fear of being judged when I’m at my most vulnerable plays a big part in my negative mentality. After recently joining the local gym, I have finally managed to confront my own worries and dread.

It's never too late to improve your health | Epigram / Emily Fromant

1. I’ve never been to a gym, it’s too late now

It is absolutely never too late to start a new challenge or live a healthier lifestyle. I was truly terrified of going to the gym, so on my first day I went to a class that was only 30 minutes long. It was a quick relaxed workout with a fabulous instructor that helped me start this new journey. I’d recommend using an easy machine for a few minutes to get used to the environment and getting comfortable is definitely worthwhile.

2. I’m not qualified enough to come up with my own routine

Fear tends to stem from the lack of knowledge. Therefore my challenge to you is, what can you do to prepare yourself? By attending any free classes or PT sessions that are part of your membership will really help get the ball rolling. My first session I did at the gym was a class and I still use the instructor’s exercises to this day!  Additionally, there are loads of videos and apps that you can use to help motivate you. For example, I use the Couch to 5K app when I’m on the treadmill.

3. I look too different from all the other members

One of my biggest battles is the lack of self confidence I feel towards myself. A successful trick that many people use is focusing on what your body does instead of what it looks like. Paying attention to function over physique. By wearing an outfit that you feel comfortable and can move freely in is all that matters. I also like to show gratitude for my body and celebrate my abilities that improve every time I go to the gym.

4. I’m too unfit and can’t do a workout properly

As a big believer in manifestation, if you live your life as best you can and believe you are doing your best, you absolutely will! Being the most muscular or running the fastest isn’t a measure of doing your best. As long as you’re creating healthy and sustainable ways of staying fit and healthy, then you’re doing it properly.

5. The gym is a very masculine place

It can be very intimidating when the vast majority of people who are at the gym are men and sometimes it can be a place that I feel I don’t fit into. Instead of giving myself more reasons not to go, I like to celebrate that I am one of the few female-identifying members here and I am paving the way for more people who perhaps don’t feel that they will fit in. Maybe you’ll be that one extra woman another person needs in the gym to feel more comfortable to even out the numbers.

6. Everyone will be looking at me

Trust me, they won’t. Realistically everyone is doing their own thing and there for their own reasons. I put on music, podcasts or even Netflix to keep my mind focused on my own little bubble to avoid being distracted or obsessing over the other people in the gym (who are definitely not looking at me, by the way!)

Hopefully my tips will help you live your best and healthiest lifestyle! Remember that the first step you take, no matter how small, is the best way to get started. As adults we have to realise that we can make an active choice to live a healthy lifestyle and provide our body with its basic needs.

Push aside those intruding thoughts and make space for calmness and peace!

Epigram / Juliette Francoise Dudley