Do you remember your first gym session? You might have been a nervous wreck as you walked into a room of intimidating machines all of which you had no idea how to use. Maybe you were afraid of falling to the floor instead of coming back up from your squat, or tripping over some dumbbells, or being caught checking yourself out in the mirror…we’ve all been there.
The series of lockdowns over the past year has seen our gym routines go entirely out the window. And a lot of us have stopped our routines altogether. But now it’s time to come back and you’re feeling all of the anxious thoughts you felt when you were a rookie come flooding back.
Whatever the reason for your anxiety, you shouldn’t let that stand in the way of your fitness journey, and the good news is, there are steps you can take to combat it. We’ve compiled some of the most practical tips you can use to walk into the gym with a little bit more confidence.
1. Buddy up
At the moment, we’re still not allowed to attend the gym with people outside of our household in England, so unfortunately, you’ll have to go long-distance with your usual gym buddy.
So instead of going to the gym together, hold each other accountable, and encourage each other in other ways. Get on the same gym plan or schedule, and make sure to send pictures or video call your gym buddy when you’re getting your workout in. Seeing your friend in there might give you that push to get through your anxious thoughts and into the gym.
It’s also important to let them know that you’re feeling a little anxious (they probably are too!) so that you can give them a call whenever you can feel it coming on before a session, and they can give you that little bit of encouragement.
2. Plan, plan, plan
Whether this is using a workout app or creating your own schedule, planning is key to reducing anxiety.
If you’re already feeling anxious about getting back into the gym, we can guarantee that walking into a busy gym with no plan will only make it worse. Give yourself a plan of action. If you’re going to a new gym, have a look on their website for a tour or a floor plan of the gym, so you’re familiar with where everything is. Or, even better, book an in-person tour of your gym before your first session.
Then, plan everything from your warm-up to your cool down. Including a few back up exercises just in case you can’t get on the machine you need. This will keep you focussed, and avoid any added anxiousness caused by walking around the gym aimlessly.
So if the squat rack is being hogged, keep these exercises up your sleeve…
Don't skip leg day because you can't get a squat rack — try these alternatives instead.
3. Go at the right time
If you’re an anxious gym-goer, this one is an essential. Going to the gym at off-peak times will allow you much more freedom to explore and get familiar with the equipment. You can even just do this for your first few sessions back, and once you’re familiar with all the equipment again, you can get your workouts done at much busier times but with the confidence that you know what you’re doing.
Generally, the times to avoid are 7-8pm, as this is usually the gym “rush hour”. A lot of gyms also tend to be busier at the start of the week (Monday-Thursday), so try to get a couple of your sessions in over the weekend when it’s likely to be quieter.
4. Refresh your Wardrobe
Retail therapy definitely has its benefits. Wearing an outfit that you feel your best in will give you a confidence boost, and you’ll want to go to the gym even if just to show off your outfit!
But not only do you want something that looks great, you also want something practical, that you can rely on to cope with whatever your session throws at you. Squat proof leggings, comfortable, sweat wicking tops, and comfy, moveable shorts all come to mind. And lucky for you, we’ve got all of that in our clothing section.
5. Dance to your favourite playlist
Get your heart pumping, and those endorphins flowing before you’ve even stepped foot into the gym. Put on a killer playlist and dance around your kitchen for 10 minutes whilst you’re drinking your pre-workout, and we guarantee you’ll be ready to get back on that squat rack in no time. And, you can count it as part of your warm up!
We’ve got some pretty killer playlists if we do say so ourselves, so have a browse on our Spotify account and get dancing.
Take Home Message
It’s no surprise that a lot of us are feeling anxious about getting back into the gym considering we’ve all gotten used to working out in our bedrooms and garages over the past year. But the gym will help you progress further, and regain whatever strength you’ve lost since the first lockdown, so anxiety shouldn’t stand in the way. And the same goes for everyone who’s starting up their fitness journey, feeling anxious about what might happen in the gym shouldn’t be a reason you don’t start this exciting journey.
So, get the support of a friend, get familiar with the gym and all the equipment, plan accordingly, dress to impress and dance it out. Taking all of that onboard, you’ll be feeling like a pro in no time.