Overcome Gym Anxiety


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If you are embarrassed to go the gym, perhaps you picked the wrong gym! Cultures vary greatly in the Thousands of gym available to you. Some gyms are geared for the “Beasts” in the Fitness Culture, i.e.: Bodybuilders, Powerlifters, High Level Professional and Amateur Athletes, Fitness models, etc.… Others have reputations as “Meat Markets” where the “Body-Beautiful” crowd gathers to find a “Mate” either for life or perhaps for a few hours. But there are many, MANY gyms whose culture is dedicated to helping you live a longer, healthier and happier life.

You will find the World’s best IFPA Certified Personal Trainers in these gyms, along with a family friendly atmosphere that will always make you feel welcome and never make you feel embarrassed. My first recommendation for you would be go shopping for a gym that will make you feel comfortable and offers IFPA Certified Personal Trainers. Look for a gym with the right culture for you! One can satisfy your needs.

You should seriously consider a gym that offers Certified Personal Trainers, preferably IFPA Certified so you can be assured they have the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities to maximize your exercise safety and effectiveness. Certification organizations, like gyms, have significantly different cultures. Certifications built on expertise of Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, Physical Therapy, Aerobics, or Sports Conditioning all have their values, but none of the above match the Scope of Practice for a Personal Trainer. While Bodybuilders, Powerlifters, Aerobic Athletes and Sport Conditioning Athletes and Trainers have vast expertise, little of it applies to the deconditioned men, women, or children or to whomever is trying to get in shape and lose weight (fat).

Unfortunately, their expertise which is highly valuable for deconditioned athletes can be an embarrassment, unsafe and ineffective for the deconditioned Personal Trainer Client. You are far safer to work with an IFPA Certified Personal Trainer who has passed an Accredited exam to prove they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to train the deconditioned clients, safely and effectively without the risk of serious injury or in some rare occurrences even death! The IFPA has built Certifications and courses to ensure safety and effectiveness. You can also be assured that your IFPA Certified Personal Trainer will do whatever it takes so you will never feel embarrassed.

Besides picking the right gym and the right IFPA Certified Personal Trainer, you can also do other things to avoid embarrassment. You will find most gyms have “Peak” hours when the gym is packed full. And other gym times when the gym is deserted. Use the gym during the “Off Hours” to avoid embarrassment. You should also consider the clothes you wear. You may notice that some people wear “Spray-Painted-On – Workout – clothes”. Admittedly, when you have spent years to sculpt a great body, you want to “Show-It-Off”. Right now, you may absolutely Hate the Show-Offs, but your time will come when you too will want to display your hard work and the beautiful body you have built. In the meantime, wear loose, comfortable clothing to avoid embarrassment.

Another important factor to avoiding embarrassment is for you to know “Gym Etiquette.” Most of your fellow gym members really don’t pay much attention to you or anyone else in the gym. When they are Working-Out, they are focused on themselves. If you don’t do anything to violate a Rule, Policy, or Procedure you will be fine.

Typical Etiquette Violations:

  • Not putting the Weight Plates back on the appropriate spot on the Weight Trees when done.
  • Not putting all Dumbbells back in their appropriate spots.
  • Sitting on equipment to rest between sets.
  • o When you are on a machine do your set and get off.
  • Not using a towel to avoid sweating on equipment. Not using a towel or “Gym Wipes” provided to wipe down a machine after use.
  • Not exercising at the appropriate work station.
  • o E.g. Curling in the Squat Rack area
  • Yelling, cursing, or making excessive noise.
  • Not using proper hygiene.
  • Spitting in the water fountain.
  • Leaving your trash on the floor or on the equipment.
  • Not using Common Sense, Common Courtesy, and basic human consideration for your fellow human beings and gym members.

I would also highly recommend you take a hard look at your own attitude. What do you have to be embarrassed about? You have made a decision to get in shape, lose weight, lose fat, and/or lead a healthier lifestyle! You should be proud, not embarrassed. Most of the time when you think people are looking at you, they are not. When you are exercising with intensity, you could possibly stare off, 20-30 yards or so in the distance, with a stern expression that only gets “meaner” the harder the exercise gets. It is only your insecurity that you believe they are staring at you. And you should do the same, get focused on you and your goals and ignore everyone else.

If you do experience an embarrassing event, don’t cower from it, use it as a powerful motivator over the weakness you feel. Use it toward gaining the strength you will achieve. Remember this: “The Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Confucius

Don’t let your attitude dwell on where you are,but be motivated based on where you are going. “Your Attitude decides your Altitude!” If you have a powerful reason to lose weight (lose fat), use that reason to power you toward your goals. Use your reason to get you through any potential setbacks, and these setbacks include any potential embarrassment. But don’t stop for a superficial reason. When someone tells me “I want to lose weight” I want to know why. “I want to look better”; for who and why? “I want to be healthier;” for who: your children, spouse, or pet? Get a crystal-clear reason in your mind on precisely why you are willing to go to a gym. You are preparing to get sweaty, uncomfortable, push-pull and strain, make sacrifices in your diet and eating, stress and sleep management, etc. You are going to need clarity on the WHY and your best reasons above all else to disregard embarrassment and every other thing that could prevent you from achieving your goal. Your attitude is critical to achieving any goal. Strengthen your attitude to find true strength within you.

Good Luck,

Dr. Jim Bell


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