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Gym-Timidation and Gym Induced Anxiety

Written by Rev Owner and Co-Founder, Michele Zandman - Frankel

Gym-Timidation and Gym Induced Anxiety

We often discuss the gym being a therapeutic outlet. However, for many, the gym can be a source of intimidation and induce anxiety.

Most people upon meeting me, wouldn’t think I have ever experienced gym anxiety. I’m an IFBB Pro athlete, so I could never understand how it feels to be nervous, intimidated, or uncomfortable in a gym…right? WRONG.

First, let me start off saying, that I absolutely 100% experience anxiety when entering a new gym. I don’t know the people. I don’t know the equipment. It’s new, and it’s uncomfortable. Although most wouldn’t think for a second I was experiencing that internally, because of my profession.

Second, I was new to the gym at one point. I was CLUELESS. And to this day, I am still learning or mastering new movement patterns, and constantly correcting my own form and imbalances. Everyone you see in the gym, had a “day one”. Everyone experienced the same emotions and feelings you may be experiencing now. There is a mutual understanding there, and a mutual respect. Those who are the most intimidating looking, are usually the kindest souls and are willing to help you and make you feel comfortable however they can. Because they too, know how it felt to have a “day one”.

We took a poll from our followers, to discover some common reasons we experience anxiety and shy away from the gym?

1. Other people are looking at me

2. I don’t want to annoy people who DO know what they are doing

3. Feeling of intimidation and they don’t want to work out alone

4. Since I’ve gained weight, I do not feel confident

5. Being a sexual assault survivor

6. Easily overwhelmed because I do not know how to use the equipment

7. Being natural and feeling small and envious around the big guys at my gym

8. Creepy old men or creepy men in general (women)

9. I feel like people will judge my heavy breathing or my form

10. Wearing a mask at a mask optional gym

Here are some tips and suggestions that come from people who have overcome their gym induced anxiety, or are working on coping with it, to make the gym a more comfortable place to be.

1. People are more impressed you are there working on yourself, than judging.

2. Most people at the gym are so hyper focused on themselves, what they look like, their own form, and their outfits, they won’t be watching you. Most of them are battling their own gym anxiety.

3. Wear headphones as a cue to not invite conversation from others. It also helps you get in to your own zone and block out the rest of the world.

4. Most of our form isn’t perfect. We are ALL working on our technique and pursuing better movement patterns. Again, most people are focused on themselves.

5. Everyone at the gym is there to improve something themselves and better themselves. They are all doing the same thing you are doing, to be better than they were yesterday. That is our commonality. And we are all entitled to enjoy that space and improve something. NO ONE is perfect .

6. When it comes to creepy people - let management know you feel uncomfortable. There is a chance this is not the first time someone has said something about this member . After one or two complaints, management will handle it. SPEAK UP.

Also, avoid eye contact. When we make eye contact, it is common that we default to an awkward smile, inviting them in for conversation. Practice your RBF (Resting Bitch Face) . Be stern . Cue that you aren’t interested, and want to be left alone . If they make a cue or suggestion to talk or take your headphones out, ignore and walk away. Some people don’t understand social cues. OR be direct and call them out.

7. Get a gym partner or trainer. This can be cost prohibited or you may not be able to always depend on a gym partner. But it is an option for some. Sometimes, all it takes is one session with a trainer. Utilize that time and have them show you all the gym equipment and write it down as you go. You can even take videos or pictures on how to use the equipment. Most gyms allow you to meet with a trainer for a tour on your first day.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask the staff how to use equipment or where equipment is located. That is what they are hired to do! And they will be happy to help.

9. Practice perspective - everyone at that gym at some point was just like you. You are entitled to be a novice or a beginner . ASK STAFF to teach you how to use equipment.

  • Don’t make assumptions that people are watching you and judging you. Humans are ego-centric in nature. We assume no one else in this room feels the way we do.

  • Someone used the following quote when I first began at a gym, and honestly, it helped me ton: “no ones looking at you, you aren’t that important” 😂 - everyone is too concerned with themselves

10. Reduce Caffeine intake. If you take pre workout and are already anxious, caffeine is most likely to heighten your anxiety.

Shoutout : gyms like Apollon Gym in Edison NJ, can look super intimidating, however they have the kindest staff, and a very diverse clientele. They treat everyone like family there.

What our followers have to say and what has helped them overcome their gym anxiety?

  1. I started on cardio equipment and slowly made may way over to the machines, and then the free weights.

  2. Direction and a good instructor or trainer. They helped me build my foundation for movements.

  3. YouTube turtorials

  4. I was very heavy and felt more confident when I lost a little weight first from proper nutrition with RevolutioniZe Nutrition.

  5. I chose to avoid the gym during peak hours when the bodybuilders were there.

  6. I got over asking people for a spot. Once I did it once, I built confidence to ask again and realized everyone was always happy to help me for a spot.

  7. A welcoming atmosphere like the trainers at CKO (gym shout out!).

  8. Wearing clothing that made me feel comfortable.

  9. A written workout plan.

  10. Blasting music and focusing on my workout, no one else! Tunnel vision.

  11. I did research. I felt I didn’t know what I was doing until I went online to look up basic machines and how to use them. Lots of YouTube Then I would try and get to the gym at “off times” with less people until I realized most people are only doing things half right. And 98% don’t care what I’m doing anyway.

  12. Stop worrying about what other people think and worry about yourself.

  13. At first I was uncomfortable and nervous about doing things wrong, but after a while I said “f*ck it!” Lol!

  14. Levels of gyms. Start in a gym that is comparable to Planet Fitness in the level of conditioning amongst the members. Great for beginners!

I hope this was a bit helpful for our readers! Never hesitate to reach out to your nutritionist, Randy, or myself, for tips, suggestions, and advice on working out, or which gyms or trainers we recommend in your area!

Happy Lifting!



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