I decided to hit the gym hard this morning to clear my head before tackling my day, and while I was gasping for breath while simultaneously sweating like a man on the treadmill, I was reminded of an email I received from one of my readers a few months ago.
This beautiful woman and I went back and forth a few times about diet and weight loss, and in her last email to me she admitted she felt too uncomfortable working out at the gym.
I sent her a few words of encouragement and wished her well, but after learning how many of my subscribers struggle with weight loss in a recent reader survey, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to all of the things that hinder our weight loss goals.
And the gym seems to be a huge one.
While some of us thoroughly enjoying running on the treadmill, sweating it out in a hot yoga class, or lifting weights with the big boys, the mere thought of entering a gym makes others want to hyperventilate into a brown paper bag.
And you know what?
The fear of exercising in front of others isn’t necessarily tied to body image like most people think it is. It can be due to a whole slew of other reasons – fear of judgement, fear of failure, fear of injury, and fear looking like a fool, to name a few – and can pose a serious setback for those who want to lose weight and get back into shape.
But I’m not going to let that happen.
I’m here to offer you the tools you need to get over your fears so you can exercise like a boss.
Here are 6 strategies to help you overcome your fear of the gym once and for all.
1. STOP NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
While a little self-criticism can be motivating, consistently focusing on our failures can have a devastating impact on our self-esteem, which does nothing when it comes to motivating ourselves to get back in shape. Rather than doing something to change the things we dislike about ourselves, we get so caught up in self-blame that we become sad and depressed and wonder if we should even bother.
You’re not alone.
I have been caught up in this vicious circle many times in my life, but experience has taught me that once I make a conscious decision to get off my ass and take control of my own destiny, my feelings of helplessness are immediately replaced with those of empowerment.
Tell your inner voice to shut up, stop making excuses, put your runners on, and JUST DO IT already!
2. FIND SOMETHING YOU ENJOY
When it comes to exercise, I’m a firm believer that you have to focus on the things you enjoy. Stop worrying about which workouts will deliver the best results, and focus on doing the things you find fun.
Sign up for a water aerobics class. Give cycling a try. Challenge yourself to hot yoga. Do Zumba.
You’ll eventually stumble upon something you enjoy, which will make the act of exercise feel like less of a chore.
3. BOOK A SESSION WITH A PERSONAL TRAINER
One of the biggest challenges people have when they sign-up for a gym membership is not knowing how to use the equipment, and at the risk of looking silly, they tend to stick with the things they know, which can be very limiting.
Fortunately, most gyms offer personal training sessions, and while they’re often pretty pricey, my experience has been that most trainers are willing to offer a complimentary 30-60 minute session to teach you the basics so you feel more confident and don’t hurt yourself.
All you have to do is ask.
4. WORKOUT WITH A FRIEND
While not for everybody, some find it a lot easier to face their fears of exercising in public if they take a friend. It forces them to take ownership over their commitment to get back in shape, and helps buffer their fear of looking foolish.
5. DON’T EXERCISE AT PEAK TIMES
If you really struggle with the fear of exercising in front of others, consider working out very early in the morning, or really late at night. There are heaps of 24-hour gyms around, and since the young and hip crowd tend to go to the gym during their lunch breaks or right after work, you may feel more at ease scheduling your sweat sessions at a different time.
6. EXERCISE AT HOME
If all else fails and you just cannot get over your fear of working out in front of others, there are loads of different ways you can get back in shape from the comfort of your own home.
Lots of personal trainers offer in-home training options, and YouTube is full of great at-home workouts that deliver serious results.
In fact, we’ve dedicated an entire section on Meraki Lane to showcasing our favorite ways to get back in shape when you can’t make it to the gym. You can stream those workouts for free HERE.
I read a fabulous quote last night that really inspired me:
Stay quiet about them.
Smash the sh*t out of them.
Clap for your damn self.
I have no idea who said those words, but they are so powerful, they gave me goosebumps.
My challenge to you if you struggle with the idea of working out in public is to stop making excuses.
I’ve spent a lot of time exercising in different gyms over the course of my life and can confirm that NO ONE has the time or energy to worry about what you’re wearing, how much you’re sweating, how much you weigh, if you’re using the right form, or whether you’re able to complete your workout.
They are too focused on themselves.
And you should be too.
So give some of these strategies and try and when you feel like quitting, remember this famous Nike slogan:
YOUR ONLY LIMIT IS YOU.
Are you too embarrassed to exercise in front of others? Did these tips help? If so, please share them on Pinterest!
And if you’re looking for more fitness-related tips and tricks, please follow our Fitness board where we share all kinds of ideas!