Don’t let the ‘gymtimidation’ keep you from your fitness goals

A gym can be an intimidating place, but it doesn't have to be, says Tanja Shaw.

A fitness coach can set you up on a fitness program

A fitness coach can set you up on a fitness program

One of my clients summed it up perfectly “I didn’t want to go to the gym until it looked like I didn’t need to go to the gym”.   That’s exactly why he became a client.

Gymtimidation, defined by Urbandictonary.com as “The fear of working out at a gym because everything from the crazy contraptions to the seriously ripped bodies is extraordinarily intimidating” is real.  And it’s a vicious cycle.  You need to start exercising, but feel uncomfortable going to the gym.  When you finally get the nerve to go, you find that super-fit people who obviously know what they’re doing surround you.  You feel out of place, and self-conscious.  Maybe you start comparing your fitness level to theirs and your self-esteem wanes.  So, you stick to the treadmill and then never go back.  And then you’re back at square one: you need to start exercising.

Gymtimidation is real, but there are things you can do to overcome it, or get around it.

• Think outside the gym.  If the gym really does intimidate you and you’re not quite ready to commit to going, you don’t have to forgo getting fit.  There are many alternatives to the regular gym.  Consider a home workout, private fitness studio, or lacing up your running shoes and going outside.

• Get a coach.  A big barrier to feeling intimidated at the gym is simply not knowing what you’re doing.  Perhaps even more serious than the risk of feeling self-conscious, is the potential for injury.  A fitness coach can set you up on a fitness program, and show you how to do each exercise so you improve your fitness level and avoid getting injured.  When you are comfortable with a program, you will have more confidence to workout at a gym.

• Go with a friend. There’s power in numbers.  When you go with a friend, you’ll be more relaxed and less worried about what other people are doing.  If you do start to feel anxious at the gym, you’ll have a support person there to help you.  As an added bonus, working out with a buddy will help you stick to your fitness program.

• Go off peak hours.   Early mornings and evenings are the busiest times at the gym.  In my personal experience, most of the heavy lifters frequent the gym in the evening.  If you can, go at quieter times.  You’ll also end up waiting less to use equipment.

• Remember that no one really cares what you’re doing.  “You wouldn’t worry so much about what people really thought of you if you knew how seldom they do” –Unknown. Everyone is at the gym because they want to keep fit.  Spend your time at the gym focusing on your workout, just like everyone else is focusing on his or her workout.

While gymtimidation is real, it doesn’t have to quash your dreams of getting fit.  Whether you choose to overcome your fear of the gym, or opt for an alternative, taking care of your body with regular movement is worth it!

Tanja Shaw is a supportive health and fitness coach, Rotarian, passionate entrepreneur, mom, runner, and owner of Ascend Fitness Inc.  Tanja and her team of expert fitness coaches inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition.  Visit Tanja  at www.ascendfitnesscoaching.com and www.tanjashaw.com.

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