Tuesday, March 16, 2010

7 Tips for Reducing Gym Anxiety

I decided I would spend some time implementing important new habits in my life that would help me to be healtheir- which in turn would help my anxiety. Mr. T and I got gym memberships because they have a daycare and that works best for our little busy body toddler.

However, I find myself feeling VERY insecure at the gym. I usually prefer working out at home for this reason, but I didn't realize just how much I cared about it.

The first few times I went I actually put makeup on and did my hair. I bought new workout clothes.

I select my treadmill by finding one in front of a large pillar holding the ceiling up. This way I don't have to be as concerned about people directly behind me watching me. The mirrors on the side portray a dreadful figure staring back at me, and all I can think of is how everyone there is looking at me and laughing.

I made a note to look around for these horrible judgemental people, and not a single person was looking around like I was. Everyone was focused on their workout. Why couldn't I?

I turn on some tunes to try to distract my thoughts, but my eyes are continually looking around. My arm gets caught on my headphones and pulls my ipod out of the container and it falls on the treadmill and conveyors to the floor. So mortifying! I guess it could have been worse. I could have fallen and conveyed to the floor.

"What levels has she set on her treadmill? She is so pretty, I am so embarrassed to be near her! I have no clue what I am doing. Should I have worn this?"

I don't want to give into the insecurities and cancel my membership because I know that will only feed my fears and make it harder to go in the future. So I plan to stick it out until I feel comfortable working out by myself alongside all the beautiful toned women.

So as usual, I decided to do some research. I found these tips to help with gym anxiety (sure enough I am doing it all wrong!):

1. Take a friend with you. I think it is less nerve-wracking to go to the gym with a friend. You won’t be so focused on yourself and what everyone else thinks of you if you have a friend working out alongside you.

2. If you cannot bring a friend with you to the gym, bring some music to listen to while you workout. Bring an MP3, iPod, or Discman with you to the gym to listen to while you exercise. Listening to music while you exercise will energize you and help you keep focused during your workout.

3. Take a tour beforehand. When you sign up for a new gym, they will usually allow you to take a tour of the exercise room before you actually go in there to workout. Some gyms also give you a guide for your visit to show you how to work the machines and weights in the gym. If the gym you chose offers this service, I’d recommend taking advantage of it. It can be really helpful.

4. Wear something comfortable. Be sure to wear something you feel comfortable in to the gym. This will help you feel better about yourself.

5. Don’t look in the mirrors if you can help it. I was reading a study the other day that said people who go to gyms with mirrors in the workout room are less likely to keep going to the gym, so I don’t even know why they still put mirrors in there, but if you can help it, don’t look in the mirrors while you workout. Having some music might help you distract yourself from watching yourself workout in the mirror. Some gyms also have televisions you can watch while you workout.

A couple I have observed on my own:

6. Read a book while on the treadmill. I see lots of people doing that and want to try it out.
7. Hire a personal trainer. I would love this but they are too expensive for my budget. If you can, they will help you stay focused and motivated.

I also need some newer workout songs for my ipod- any good suggestions?

Do you ever feel insecure at the gym? What do you do to reduce the anxiety?



The Blue Morpho said...

Oh yes, I definitely feel insecure at the gym / studio / place-I-try-to-do-something-physical-in-front-of-others. I agree that your suggestions would make things easier - the time when I actually could afford to meet with a trainer was the very best. But my OCDs make it very hard to use equipment touched by so many people. My recent successes are all related to taking classes like yoga, where I can bring my own stuff if I like. But in spite of being afraid of how stupid I look, I like being able to go someplace with other people for exercise. It helps me feel less isolated, and really, I don't have to talk to anyone if I don't want to, right? :)

Patrick said...

Agreed on many of the tips. I just remember that nearly everyone there is at the gym for the same reason, to get more healthy. I don't care what shape or size people are that are at the gym, there is just a respect that they are trying.

If you like this kind of music, I'd go with The Black Eyed Peas and possibly the newish release from Shakira.

Once I realized that most people are just there to workout and not compare themselves to everyone else, it made me feel more relaxed. Like the poster above said, it actually helped my anxiety because it was a good place to be around people.

LifestyleBohemia said...

Hi - I came across your blog and want to thank you for your courage to talk abut this. I have been struggling over the past few months and just reading your blog posts has been so helpful. Thank you again!

Ash said...

I just found your blog tonight while bouncing around looking for something else. I really need to go to bed, but I can't wait to go through all your archives tomorrow. I love everything I've read so far while browsing your blog. What a blessing to have found this.
ps- I also love that you're lds too! ;)

ashley g

Mel said...

Hi Aimee,
Good to hear that other people feel self-conscious at the gym. I actually have fallen off of the treadmill before - and lived to tell the tale! I think everybody drops something off of a piece of gym equipment at one point or another. Going with a friend is a great idea for relieving anxiety and the workouts go by faster if you can chat during them too!

resveratrol said...

I also felt the same way when I first hit the gym, I'm very conscious on how I look and what others might think of me but the good thing is I have my buddies around so I got used with the set up. Also bring an ipod has helped me to focus more on exercising than the people around me.

Maybe what we all need is to feel how beautiful we are and stop comparing ourselves on others.

How to Become a Registered Nurse said...

nice these tips realy work on the sensitive one who dont want them to be watched by the others.

CAN Certification Requirements said...

yes it is true. i also feel terrible watched by the people in the gym. these tips are really nice and hope that it work.

stuffed Microbes said...

Exercises are one of the best thing in the world for a person to remain fit and fine but many of us do have fear about going to GYM. I really love the information given on this page.

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur said...

The tips are indeed helpful. I have been looking for such tips.

Ethnic Jewelry said...

It was a pleasure reading through your page. I was extremely impressed with the way things were explained

Alisha said...

Man, oh man! I constantly feel insecure when I work out in a gym. I actually avoided going to my school's gym while I was in college! My best friend would constantly ask me to go with her, and I rarely went. The few times that I did go, I was you. Everything you said...I did. Because of this, I've seriously lost track of staying healthy. It scares me!

Thank you so much for posting these tips. I'm going to have to try them out! As I've said on a previous post, your blog is amazing! :)

Anonymous said...

this is such a great subject to bring to light. thank you.
reading this blog and other readers' comments, has made me realize that we're in this together and so if i see someone at the gym that might look like they feel as insecure as i usually do, im going to smile and nod at them. maybe if everyone did that, there wouldnt be so much anxiety in the atmosphere.
and there will always be those few other women or men that shell out dissaproving looks and thats okay because i just figure, if they can think to shoot me a dirty look, their mind isn't on their workout, like mine will be from now on. so im coming out ahead :)

Anonymous said...

After coming home from the gym tonight, crying because I just spent an hour doing yoga in a studio with giant floor to ceiling mirrors on three sides, I can totally relate. Altogether, so far I've lost over 80 pounds in the past year and a half. I gained about 6 pounds back over the holidays, but I'm not worrying about that. What I'm thinking about is how to meet my goal of 100 pounds lost by this spring. So I joined a gym again to jump-start my weight loss in this last round. The gym I went to for 7 years, prior to losing all the weight I've lost, was a women's gym. I quit going two years ago because it just wasn't worth the money when I never went. Ironically, after that's when I lost all the weight. The gym I go to now is coed. I usually felt pretty good about myself after a workout there. I felt very energized, like I'd worked hard and was making a difference in my body. The difference in how I feel after working out here versus the women's gym is night and day! Of course, I did go to the women's gym primarily during the weekdays because of my schedule back then. Translation: lots of older, retired, out-of-shape ladies to see. I'm at a day job now, so I primarily go on nights and weekends. What a difference! Lots of young, hot (and quite a few not-so-hot) women's bodies. I feel like crap next to them, even knowing how much weight I've lost so far. But looking at them I'm reminded just how far I still have to go. I felt like such a cow in that yoga class tonight, even though many of the women there were either in the same or worse shape weight-wise. Of course, it could be the skin-tight top I was wearing. The website said to wear form-fitting clothes though, and it looked okay when I stood in front of the mirror at home. Well I forgot how many contortions your body goes through in yoga and if you have extra pounds, it just makes everything look worse. After spending an hour trying not to consciously zero in on all my flaws, then I see these two tall, tan, leggy, college age girls in the locker room changing into their workout clothes. Long hair, long legs, fit, firm and toned. I hated them for it. But then I tried to reason with myself. It isn't their fault they look like that. The ravages of time have yet to visit them, but why should I let that bother me? It never really did at the women's gym. There, I was always able to realize that we're all different at different stages of life, and I had my time to look like that. Just because I'm trying to get back what they have yet to lose doesn't make them worthy of scorn. Then, as I was walking out to my car, seeing all the guys on the weights, I realized why I was upset. It wasn't that I was jealous of the girls so much, but that I was upset that I look so horrible next to them. I mean, what guy's going to notice me, find me attractive when they have THAT to feast their eyes upon. Nobody, that's who. It doesn't matter how much weight I lose, what I do to my skin or my hair, or what workout clothes I wear, no guy there would ever give me a second glance when he's got young girls who look like that walking around. I'm only 32 but I feel so sexually invisible. It's like I'm not even there. I'm going to the gym primarily to get fit, not to meet guys, but it would be nice to get checked out once in a while. Just to help me keep the faith that I'm on the right track.

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