Gym intimidation is a very real problem because just the very thought of going to the gym for the first time is enough to put many people off, particularly men who are fairly skinny and puny, for example, and people of both sexes who are obese or just a little overweight.
That’s perfectly natural because let’s face it, the gym is full of alpha-males with huge muscles and impressive physiques, as well as a number of fit-looking women with perfect bodies.
Indeed a number of studies have been carried out to try to find out why so many people are scared of going to the gym.
Gym Intimidation Statistics
In a survey of 1500 people carried out by the American Council on Exercise, 46% of people said they didn’t go to the gym because it’s too crowded, whilst 21% of people avoided going because they didn’t really know what they were doing, which is a common problem for people who are new to the gym and have never worked with a personal trainer before.
In addition, 19% of people were worried that they will be the only one who isn’t in good shape, whilst gym etiquette, ie the rudeness and selfishness of other gym members, was a problem for 11% of people.
In a more recent study carried out by Cosmopolitan Body in the UK, it was found that twice as many women were embarrassed about exercising in the gym than men, with 14% of women saying that they were intimidated by other men watching them, and 10% worried about other women watching them.
There were also a small percentage of both sexes (6% of men and 12% of women) who were of the opinion that the regular members dominated the gym.
How To Overcome Gym Anxiety
If you can relate to some of these issues yourself, here are some useful tips that will hopefully help you to overcome gym intimidation:
Invest In Your Own Fitness Equipment
The easiest way to avoid any intimidation at all is to buy your own home fitness equipment because that way you won’t ever have to set foot inside a gym. Nowadays you can invest in a fully functioning home gym or a set of dumbbells, for instance, that will enable you to perform a wide range of strength-building exercises and will give you some good muscle gains.
Similarly, if you buy your own cardio equipment, such as an exercise bike, treadmill or rower, you can improve your fitness levels, burn hundreds of calories and lose weight in the comfort of your own home, without the fear of anyone else watching you or judging you.
Get Yourself In Shape Beforehand
This is rather defeatist and isn’t something that I would necessarily recommend, but if you would prefer to join a gym, but are convinced that you will never have the confidence to walk into the gym in your current physical condition, then you should maybe think about taking up walking, running or cycling in the meantime and losing a few pounds that way if you are overweight. Similarly, you could bulk up by using a set of dumbbells or a barbell if you have little or no muscle mass.
However it’s worth pointing out that while there will be plenty of people in the gym who are in perfect condition, there will also be plenty of people just like you who are not in the best of shape right now, and are working hard to improve themselves.
Ask For Help
It’s always a good idea to start off on something that is easy to use, such as the exercise bike or the dumbbell section, for example, but my biggest tip would be to ask for advice from the physical trainers and staff members in the gym because that’s exactly what they’re there for. Not only will they help you devise a workout schedule that will help you achieve your desired goals, but they will also show you how to use the various different machines, which can admittedly be quite intimidating.
Find A Workout Buddy
If you have any kind of hang-ups about your body, one of the best ways to avoid becoming intimidated in the gym is to find a friend who you can work out with, and preferably one who is a similar fitness level to yourself if possible. Exercising alone only adds to the intimidation factor, so this will make you feel a lot more at ease.
Go To The Gym Early In The Morning
The gyms are generally the busiest in the evenings when many people are home from work, and can get quite busy during the day as well. So a busy gym will obviously add to the intimidation factor, which is why it’s always a good idea to get there first thing in the morning before you start work because there will usually be hardly anyone there, and you will find that you can use all of the machines without anyone watching you. Indeed you may even find that you have the whole gym to yourself on occasions.
Concentrate On Getting Through The First Few Weeks
Finally, it is worth remembering that everyone was a gym newbie at some point. The first few weeks are always the hardest because you will inevitably feel that everyone else in the gym is fitter, stronger and in much better condition than you are. However you yourself will be in much better shape after a couple of months, and as soon as you have learned how to use all of the different exercise machines in the gym, you should hopefully find that you no longer feel intimidated at all once you set foot inside the gym.