Does this sound like you? Are you gym shy?
When I first started thinking about getting in to shape my ridiculous shyness was one of my main concerns.
This might come as a surprise to some people, as I am a relatively out-spoken confident person to those who I know. However I am afflicted with a shyness that often comes across as aloof arrogance. Acquaintances often think I’m too stuck up to speak to them, don’t like them or that I’m just plain rude! Which is not the case at all; it’s generally because I feel like I have absolutely nothing useful to say and don’t want to make a tit of myself!
If the thought of going to a crowded gym leaves you with irrational fears like:
- I’m unfit and everyone is going to stare at me
- People might laugh at me because I don’t know what I’m doing
- I’m fat compared to the other girls
- I’m small compared to the other guys
- I don’t really want to talk to anyone
- It’s going to be full of uber motivated people who are generally better at life than me
Then I can sympathise with you! And please read on…
Being afraid of trying something new is entirely normal. You’re not a freak or a misfit, you’re not socially inept and it’s not something you can’t change.
You just have to provide yourself with some coping mechanisms to get you going and think about things from a different perspective.
Strategies for shy people
- Sign up online or over the phone: if even the thought of stepping foot in a gym makes you squirm, sign up online or over the phone. Try to avoid peak hours for your first session if you feel a little daunted.
- Get a PT to write you a training plan and follow it yourself: you don’t have to undertake PT sessions to get a training plan. A good PT will happily write you out a training plan and go through it with you without tying you into an expensive ongoing contract and sessions.
- All hail the headphones: the international signal for “don’t talk to me”. If you want to avoid social interaction get some of your favourite music on a playlist, plug yourself in and tune the world out.
- Sign up at a smaller gym: I’ve been to a lot of different gyms in my town, and there’s only a handful which have a nice atmosphere. It seems the bigger the gym the less welcoming it is. Independent gyms are normally run by local people who have a genuine interest in fitness and not just raking in your money. I go to two gyms in Lincoln on a regular basis; Performance Gym and Fit4Less Lincoln. Both have a nice, relaxed atmosphere, with friendly staff and I feel comfortable training there. Don’t be afraid to try a gym out before you sign up, go with one that works for you and your personality.
- No-one is laughing at you: seriously, people at the gym are busy working on themselves. They aren’t looking at you or laughing at you, and if you think they are, well who’s the mug here? They’re wasting their time while you’re doing something positive!
- Everyone is working on something: that guy over there eyeing himself in the mirror? He’s probably hating on his arms and wishing they were bigger. That slim girl working her abs on the mat? She probably thinks she’s fat. Everyone has issues with their own body, remember that.
- People are just people: that’s right, just a bunch of cells like you and I. They’re not better than you, they’re not more motivated than you. In fact, step into any gym and you’ll find plenty of people idly sitting on their phones not really doing much at all. Sometimes the gym is just a place to escape for people, you’re not going to be surrounded by a bunch of hyped up lions pumping iron and gazelle like beauties pounding the treadmills like they’re training for a zombie apocalypse. Just normal people, doing stuff.
- Get a training partner: if you’ve got a friend who is also interested in going to the gym, go with them! You’re much more likely to succeed if you’ve got someone there to talk to, and it’s always great to have someone to spot you (help you with your weights).
Still not sure you can do it?
Acclimitisation is a proven method to conquer fear or anxiety. By repeatedly exposing yourself to the situation that you feel unsure or afraid of, you will gain tolerance. Here’s 3 things you can do:
- Learn the basics: there’s plenty of information on this website and across the internet. Learn some basic exercises and how certain machines work by reading tutorials and watching videos.
- Look at transformation pictures and read some real life journeys: there’s nothing more inspiring than reading about someone who has managed to change their body completely, especially if you can relate to their previous body type.
- Set yourself a goal: start small; be it sign up to a gym, buy some new trainers, or commit to attending the gym once this week.
Things to remember!
The way you feel is not insurmountable; you just have to challenge yourself step by step.
Everybody in life is winging it!
Everyone in that gym was a newbie one day too, no-one came flying out the womb with a dumbbell in their hand.