Getting Over Your Fear Of The Gym

Do you suffer from a fear of the gym? Is it inhibiting your goals? You’re not alone- it’s all too easy to build up barriers, preconceptions of why you can’t go to the gym, why it’s too big a step to take today, why it can wait until next week. And all these little excuses quickly snowball into a fully-fledged conviction that the gym is evil- or at the very least- that the gym is ‘not for you’. So, let’s look at busting through some of those imaginary intimidations and taking the plunge. Time to conquer your fear of the gym forever…

Lured through the innocent sliding doors by a smiling receptionist, it’s only once you’re trapped on the wrong side of the one-way gate that you realise your terrible mistake.

Clutching your brand new gym bag, to your stylishly gymwear-clad chest, you tentatively survey your surroundings.

Immediately, you are assaulted by a soundtrack of crashing weight stacks and whirring treadmills. As your eyes adjust to the unexpected brightness of fluorescent lighting, you make a futile attempt at getting your bearings. Nameless contraptions tower above plate-loaded gadgetry and cable rigging, with enough hard and pointy things to guarantee a painful demise, should you venture further. You’re tempted to seek refuge in the changing room, but are deterred by the recollection of shower room horror stories- tales of uninhibited nakedness and peculiar approaches to personal hygiene.

And amidst this mechanical carnage, roam its utterly petrifying inhabitants: The Fit People. A feared and revered, alien species, renowned for their physical perfection, Goliath-like strength and antelope-esque cardio endurance, The Fit People are the epitome of intimidation. You watch them flex and preen their scantily-clad bodies, bronzed and perfectly formed and you see their laughing eyes, laughing… laughing… at you?

You turn and you run, the glaring white of your trainers betraying their newness as you go. And you are resolute in deciding that that run, that hideous run of shame, is the very last hint of exercise that you will ever be doing in a gym, ever ever ever again.

The Gym: A terrifying prospect, no?

Well, allow me to be the bearer of good news…

1. The equipment is not scary, it’s just foreign at the moment. But the great thing about a gym is that there are people employed to teach you the local language. So ask. If you’re unfamiliar with a piece of equipment, aren’t sure what exercises to do or are confused about how to set up a routine, ask for help. Nobody is going to think less of you for making sure that you are safe and effective in the gym. Trust me, you’ll be respected for finding out how to do things properly ( ‘figuring it out for yourself’ is a sure-fire route to featuring in a ‘That guy/girl in the gym’ anecdote). The trainers are there to give you as much or as little guidance as you need. Utilise that, and you have nothing to worry about.

2. The majority of gym-goers at the majority of gyms, aren’t gazelle-legged size zeros, fresh off the catwalk. They aren’t fully fledged, gorilla-like specimens of musculature. They aren’t all Amazonian goddesses with the body fat percentage of a pencil. They are, in fact, harmless, ‘normal’ people, just like you, with the same goals, the same lifestyle commitments and the same insecurities. The difference is, they have overridden their barriers to the gym. They’ve conquered their fears, they’ve altered their schedules and they’re there, they’re doing it.

How easy is it to become one of these people? Incredibly easy. It’s simply a choice. Make the choice to join those like-minded, like-bodied people- those people just like you, who’ve already taken the plunge; and as they begin to transform, so will you.

And as for the golden few who are god- or goddess-like, don’t let them deter you- make them your inspiration! Who’s to say that you can’t be one of them?

The gym is a perpetual cycle of people working towards goals from all levels, and as you reach the next level, you can guarantee that there’ll be an influx of gym virgins who will perceive you as one of the scary Fit People.

Everyone starts somewhere, and you can guarantee, there is always someone starting now. Face your fear of the gym, take the plunge, and make it you.

8 replies on “Getting Over Your Fear Of The Gym

  • Becky

    great article, I am a spinner and started out hopeless (gym virgin) but now am one of the “scary fit people” – except I am not – I talk to everyone, all levels and sizes.

  • Josh

    Nice article. Easy Read.

    I just wrote something similar about the ladies who are starting to use the gym but only use the cardio equipment.

    Strength is sexy and do not be afraid of trying out the dumbbells. Lifting weights shouldn’t be a traumatic experience.

    Yours in Fitness.
    Perpetual Growth

  • Chad

    Thanks for this post Charli. As a certified fitness coach I understand the value an individual can get from going to the gym. I encourage my clients to discover an exercise program that works for them. Some love the idea of going to the gym while others have their “reasons” for why the gym doesn’t work for them. You do not have to go to the gym to get healthy and/or increase your fitness. Bodyweight exercises get amazing results and you can do them in the comfort of your living room. People can get their cardio from running, biking, swimming, walking, etc. All of these activities can be done outside of a gym setting. If the gym isn’t realistic for you right now, don’t worry or beat yourself up over it. You have many other options.

  • amber warner

    I go to a gym run by a hopsital, so mostly I see senior citizens, and since it’s a college town, 20 something Coeds. But the majority are moms just like me trying to lose weight. The only time I ran into one of THE FIT people was a lady on a treadmill next to me who put the incline as high as it would go, and the speed I swear as fast as it would go. I’d already done 25 minutes on an eliptical, and was doing my remaing 10 on a treadmill at a decent pace. A commercial on the tv came on, for a candy bar. I stated that it looked good. And I wanted one. Bunny says “And you’re only doing 10 on the treadmill?” It was only after I informed her of what I already had done, still had to do my weight lifting, that it was an organic dark chocolate candy bar with espresso beans in it, that she apologized. And my anger fueled my awesome weightlifting session that day.

  • TJ

    Great article! When I joined a gym last Fall, I too experienced the “what the heck am I doing here?” feeling as I seemed to be surrounded by uber-fit cardio queens and muscle-bound men not found outside of a world-class bodybuilding event. Fortunately I stuck with it and now enjoy going on a fairly regular basis keeping in mind, of course, that it’s entirely possible that at least some of those people were once in my shoes and there is hope for me! 🙂

  • Luke Foster

    Nice read, good to point out as well that most of the “Goliaths” are probably the most helpful people in the gym. Always happy to give you a spot or tips as long as you’re making the effort to work out.

    I never really was intimidated myself I was happy to just get in and get on with it but the longer I’ve been there the more you notice how understanding people are when it comes to new guys. I know that I intimidate the smaller guys but I always try to help out where I can. (As long as it doesn’t get in my way that is ;D)

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