How to cope with gym anxiety

Monday June 10 2019

While at the gym, stay focused on your perso

While at the gym, stay focused on your personal improvement and goals. Do not be tempted to compare your body to someone else’s or what they are doing better than you. NET PHOTO 

By Joan Salmon

Elly Barangi, a fitness coach, defines gym anxiety as that self-conscious, confidence-vanishing feeling one experiences when faced with an intimidating, embarrassing, or potentially awkward situation at the gym. “It often involves feelings of fear of being judged based on one’s fitness level and/or uncertainty involving equipment or classes,” he explains.

While these feelings crowd someone’s mind, the reality is that everyone else is so focused on themselves that they care less or are thinking the exact same thing themselves.

Plan your workout
Robert Ddamulira, a fitness instructor, advises any gym user to have a plan. “Before heading to the gym, have a plan of what you are going to do, which will take the guesswork out of your workout session. You could also download an app that will guide you on a workout routine while at the gym,” he advises.
As a newbie, Ddamulira says coming up with a routine or knowing the right app to pick out of may not be easy. “Get a fitness mentor to walk the journey with you. When you have a senior guiding you, anxiety is cut by half or more. You will also be able to hit your targets faster than if you were all by yourself,” he says.

Focus on your workout
When you are seriously working hard, you will not have time to compare yourself to others as your focus is on carrying out your routine. Barangi urges people to concentrate on themselves and consistently remind themselves of how great they are doing. “If you are in need of a distraction, carry along your earphones and plug them in for some motivating music to double your efforts and improve your concentration,” he advises.

Talk to the instructor
With all the anxiety, it is very easy to slide into the back row where you will avoid eye contact with others as you awkwardly attempt to do the workouts.
“Stick around after the class and introduce yourself to the instructor. We love to hear from you as well as answer your questions and help you improve your form or improve your grasp on that move that gives you a hard time so that you do not get disappointed and give up,” Barangi says.

Off-peak hours
Rather than go to the gym at hours when everyone seems to be there, say in the evening, schedule your routine when there are barely any people. “Apart from helping beat gym anxiety, going to the gym at such hours will help you get more time with the instructors,” Ddamulira advises. At such hours, he adds, you will also avoid the hardcore fitness people who you can join after mastering your routines.


Go with a friend
With all the anxiety, Barangi says going with a friend to train will help. “When you are with a friend, you will feel more relaxed and have fun. Even when anxiety sets in, you will easily laugh it off with them because they understand you. It will also help you learn from your experience and become more confident,” he says.

Have confidence
When all is said and done, the fitness coaches say: “Believe in yourself because you are your only competition. Comparing yourself to others is not going to help you in any way. Even if people are looking at you, convince yourself that it is because they admire your motivation and dedication toward reaching your goals.”

It is important to remember that everyone started somewhere before they got the great body and you will also get there if you are tenacious. Let go of the insecure feelings and make up your mind to go to that gym class diligently. Your resilience may just be what some other person needs to pick up their broken pieces.

Remove doubt
While gym class can be really interesting and a great way to get fit, trouble arises when say, an instructor calls on you to use an equipment you are not conversant with, making you wish you had not signed up. Robert Ddamulira, a fitness instructor, says it is okay to stick to the back row until you feel more comfortable, “That way you can easily follow the seasoned people without feeling that all eyes are on you,” he says.

However, he adds, you cannot stay in one dark corner forever and need to remember why you chose to come to the gym in the first place. While you improve your physical image, you should also do away with that self-sabotaging comments running through your mind for a thoroughly healthy you.