7 Ways to Overcome Gym Anxiety as a Woman

On my first visit to the gym, I entered with the vision of tentatively trying my first few sets of barbell squats. It was 7pm, the weights area had been left dishevelled by powerlifters, and the squat racks were crowded with men. The room was hot and sweaty. Too anxious to step foot into the weights area, and self-conscious of breaking a sweat in front of an audience, I left after ten minutes. I felt disappointed, embarrassed, and vowed to never step foot inside the building again. My experience is not unique. While gym anxiety still strikes even some experienced gym-goers, there are ways you can combat it, read on for these 7 Ways to Overcome Gym Anxiety as a Woman!

1. Ask for help

Knowledge really is power. A lot of beginners’ anxiety derives from being afraid of looking silly by not performing an exercise correctly. Asking a personal trainer will give you the boost of confidence you need and save time fumbling over or faffing about how to use unfamiliar equipment.

2. Create tunnel-vision with music & an exercise programme

Wearing wireless headphones will help you to block outside noise and ignore prying eyes, as well giving you the focus of a comforting, motivational soundtrack. Similarly, following a programme or plan will focus your mind and eradicate any doubt over how and when you should be performing exercises.

3. Grab a gym buddy to deflect gym anxiety

Enlisting a gym buddy or friend, experienced or not, will create a supportive environment and add a fun, social element to training. You do not have to stick together like glue, but it can be a great fallback if you need to work out how to use a bench or laugh about how you tripped over the leg curl machine.

4. Information-gather

PTs can tell you the least busy hours for your facility which will make you feel less rushed and pressured. At most commercial gyms, you should try to avoid the post-work 5pm rush.

5. Dress for comfort

While some women may feel limitless in a Gymshark set, others will feel more at home in a sweat-wicking t-shirt and leggings. If you are concerned about your leggings being see-through, try the squat test: wear seamless thongs and squat in front of a mirror.

6. Learn, learn, learn

Learning is fundamental to giving you the confidence to walk around the gym like you own it. Aside from PTs, other valuable sources of information are detailed online programmes such as the Tone and Sculpt App by Krissy Cela or websites such as Bodybuilding.com etc.

7. Mantras

If you’re ever made to feel uncomfortable or belittled, mantras are an excellent way of centring your thoughts and shrugging off an uncomfortable experience. My favourites include: “Everyone’s on their own journey.”, “You’re not here to look attractive, you’re here to improve yourself.”

Gym anxiety can be a real and persistent issue that affects both men and women, particularly beginners to fitness or weight training. For women, the gym presents a further set of complications. Unwanted advances, stares, and belittling can cause heightened anxiety. In a space dominated by men, it can feel as though you stick out like a sore thumb, not ideal for someone trying to find their groove. Hopefully, these tips will help you!

If you’re an experienced gym-goer, how did you handle this hurdle? Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Meantime, check out our interview with the great zumba teacher Lucia Medina, and the following articles on Fitness Motivation and using training to Overcome Shyness to ensure you Keep YOUR Fit ON!

Katie Treharne

A lifelong health and fitness enthusiast, and vegetarian, Katie is committed to weight training with the view that all women would benefit from lifting. Aside from that, she is keen on keeping an active lifestyle and has experimented with yoga, kickboxing, and ice skating, to name a few. She's also interested in balancing health and fitness with travel, as a freelance travel journalist too.

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