5 Ways to Overcome Gym Anxiety & Get Active

Posted By on November 22, 2022

One common factor that can intimidate even the most experienced athlete or workout buff – going to the gym. Gyms are often hailed as safe havens for those who want to keep up a healthy lifestyle, work on their physique, or simply stay active, but in reality, many things can deter people from showing up to their local fitness center. For example, cliques, hardcore weight-lifting enthusiasts, and sculpted Pilates class attendees can contribute to gym anxiety. 

Many older adults might initially feel uncomfortable with going to a gym because of age. They might not know how to work the equipment or feel that their fitness center only caters to a younger crowd. But here’s some good news: gym anxiety is common in people of all ages. In fact, a recent study showed that about 50% of Americans have some form of gym-timidation that keeps them from developing a workout routine around other people. 

HarborChase Senior Living understands the importance of a fitness routine. Our communities focus on healthy aging and feature amenities, programs, and classes designed to give residents the tools they need to feel their best and stay active! Here are our top five tips for overcoming gym anxiety:

1. Remember Why You’re There

Firstly, it’s important to take an introspective look at why you might feel anxious about going to the gym. 

  • Are you uncomfortable going into a new environment? 
  • Are you unsure how to use gym equipment and don’t want to look foolish? 
  • Are you unhappy with the way your physique might look compared to other gym-goers? 

“Irrespective of body size, there can be a sense of self-consciousness or vulnerability in fitness facilities,” says Natasha Schvey, an assistant professor of medicine and clinical psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Working out in a public setting can be an exposing experience. While you might feel susceptible to the opinions of others (or even negative opinions of yourself), try to remind yourself why you want to start working out in the first place. 

When you remind yourself why you’re committing to this fitness journey, you’ll soon realize that everyone else at your gym is there for the same reasons! 

2. Get Familiar with Your Surroundings

If you’re new to a fitness facility, ask for a tour or speak to one of their team members. This exposure will allow you to feel more comfortable in these new surroundings, and gym employees can help you better understand what to do and how to use the equipment. 

Some gyms even offer sessions with personal trainers or fitness classes for members. This is another great way to find a routine or exercise you enjoy while giving you an option for a more private experience.

3. Workout with a Friend

Studies have shown that motivation is an excellent key to healthy habits and healthy aging, regardless of your fitness end goal. Bringing a friend is an excellent way to keep each other motivated. In addition, creating a sense of community, even amongst two friends, can do wonders for your accountability.

For instance, it can be easy to stay home and avoid your workout routine if you go to the gym alone. However, if you plan on going to the gym on specific days with a friend, it is harder to break any plans. Plus, you’ll have a support system to help increase your self-confidence and give you some company to get through your workout.

4. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

We’ve all been in this situation; you see someone effortlessly completing a task or a hobby, and you instantly begin harboring feelings of jealousy or insecurity. At the gym, perhaps the person on the treadmill next to you starts to increase their speed or incline and seamlessly transitions into an intense cardio workout. 

When it comes to physical fitness, we tend to be very hard on ourselves, especially when it feels like those around us are on higher levels of physical ability than ourselves. However, it’s crucial not to get caught up in the workouts of others: not only is it detrimental to your self-confidence, but it can lead to dangerous fitness behavior. 

Comparing yourself to others might cause you to attempt high-intensity workouts that are too strenuous on your body, leading to injury.

5. Don’t Rush Yourself

Gym anxiety won’t disappear overnight; it can take time to feel comfortable and confident in your routine and abilities. If you aren’t sure where to begin with a fitness routine at the gym, try taking small steps at first. These steps create healthy mental habits and get your body used to being active in small increments, eventually making way for more extended periods of activity. 

Here’s an idea: if you get to the gym and begin to feel anxious, start with ten minutes of walking on the treadmill. After ten minutes, you might decide that you want to walk for ten more minutes, or you can start again tomorrow with another ten. 

By giving yourself realistic goals, it becomes easier to achieve your objectives. This is a great way to feel accomplished without putting too much pressure on yourself, especially when you begin to see your results.

At HarborChase Senior Living, our communities provide the tools needed to enrich your body, mind, and soul. Our fitness classes and wellness programs are designed to promote healthy aging and improve your heart health, serotonin functions, and cardio to reap all the benefits – physically and mentally. From yoga to chair exercises, there is a fitness class for everyone! 

Visit our website to find a HarborChase community near you and learn more!