Gym Intimidation: 5 Ways To Overcome Gym Anxiety

The Feeling Of Gym Intimidation


I remember talking to a client at my old workplace. He was about 30 years old at the time, feeling overweight and uncomfortable. We had a chat and he told me that he’d never step foot in a gym because of the fear of being judged and the feeling of not being good enough. The Gym Intimidation was real. I gave him some advice and said, “How you’re feeling now, is how most people feel. When you put yourself outside of your comfortable environment, insecurities start to show”. We chatted a bit more and I got an understanding of who he was and he got an understanding of who I was. I was his health consultant, but someone who wanted to see him succeed.


Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash


Fast forward a few years and he was coming to the gym most days and even competed in a half marathon. He lost over 40kg and had never felt happier. When I met him, he was working corporate level at a fast food company, not enjoying life and feeling stuck. Now, he is working for one of the worlds most renowned tech companies, traveling around the world and networking like you wouldn’t believe. How did he do this? He put himself outside of his comfort zone to begin with. When we do this, doors open up for us that we never knew would open. We gain clarity and with the right mindset, structure and plan, we can achieve anything. Making the decision to get over gym anxiety helped this man love life again.

The Perception


Gym Intimidation is a real thing, for men and women. We have a perception that gyms can be full of egotistical gym junkies, rude staff and judging eyes, especially when we are already at a vulnerable state of getting ourselves fit and healthy. Truthfully, it’s not all that bad. It’s about conquering the mind and getting rid of all those perceptions we have about a gym and focusing on ourselves, our goals and what will help us get there.

I give you 5 ways on how you can turn Gym Anxiety around and get rid of the feeling of intimidation, as well as a few tips to make gym life easier!

1) You’re More Than Likely Not Being Judged

When you rock up to a gym, you might feel like you’re getting looked at funny and being judged. This is almost always not the case. What causes us to feel this way is being vulnerable in an unfamiliar environment where insecurities start to take over. If we can understand this, then we’re one step ahead of overcoming gym anxiety.

2) Choose The Right Gym For You

A gym with the right atmosphere for you is king. Some people like to go to a gym where they can do their workout in peace and leave straight away. Other people would like to make friends and be part of a supportive community. Everyone has their own preferences, but for someone who isn’t sure of what they want- How do you decide? Research. Have a look at all the gyms around your area. When you’re looking for prices and information, don’t be afraid to ask staff questions and even ask for any testimonials they have from other members. Be engaging with the staff who are there to help. If you create the rapport, when you decide to make a trip down to the gym, you’ll feel a little more relaxed because of these three things:

  • You’ve researched
  • You know what you want
  • You’ve established a relationship with the staff


3) Take Advantage of Personal Trainers.

Personal Training is not cheap, especially if you’re already paying for a gym membership. If you have no idea how to use gym equipment or what to do, a personal trainer is highly advised. The belief that you need to spend ridiculous amounts of money on personal trainers should not be the case. The difference between feeling comfortable and less anxious at the gym lies a lot in knowing what you are doing. Invest in a couple of sessions and ask your trainer to write you a program, recommend what you should do and show you how to do it. The unknown starts to become ‘the known’ and the surroundings start to become more comfortable. Personal trainers make a huge difference in peoples lives, and you can understand why. How do you choose the right personal trainer? It’s exactly like finding the right gym.


4) Zone Out. Listen to Music or Podcasts

When you’re at the gym and there’s no music, all of a sudden you start to look around and get inside your own head. Gym intimidation starts to take over and a lot of thoughts run through your mind. I feel uncomfortable, What am I doing this for? Should I cut my workout short? Music will help you remove distractions and elevate your mood. Podcasts will help you stay focused on what you’re listening to and the outside distractions won’t even matter. The more you turn up to the gym, the more comfortable you start to feel.


5) Recognise That The First Few Weeks Are The Hardest

What you feel today will be different from how you feel in the future. It’s important to put that in your mind so that when you feel exercising or being at a gym is too hard and intimidating, know you need to push through. It will get easier.


Quick Tips to Overcome Gym Intimidation


1) Bring a Friend with you. Working out with a buddy gives you more confidence for when that time comes to exercise around people you don’t know

2) Prepare your workout attire. This tricks your mind into believing you are prepared to go to the gym. Your mind will limit the excuses made and helps you make it to the gym

3) Ask for help and ask questions. What do gyms employ people for? To serve you and make sure you are looked after in achieving your goals. Money and revenue aside, that’s fact. Help yourself by making the most of the expertise on hand.


I worked at a city gym for 6 years. In those years, I consulted a lot of people on their doubts about what’s stopping them from exercising at a gym. I engaged with all different types of people within that time. Gym anxiety was one of the biggest fears men and women had when it came to deciding to be part of a gym environment. These are people who were dead serious about wanting to lose weight, tone up or build muscle and get healthier. Some were open and honest about their fear, and others weren’t as forthcoming. The biggest obstacle people face to achieve their goals is themselves. It’s important to remember that that gym junkie you saw when you first arrived, or that person you thought was judging you, was also in the same shoes as you.

The hardest part of any goal is to get started. Trust yourself to take the first step and momentum will follow.