Self-Conscious at the Gym? Here's How to Beat the Fear

When it comes to using public fitness facilities such as gyms, one of the biggest barriers for many people is a feeling of self-consciousness. According to one survey, around a third of under-35s say they feel too self-conscious to join a gym. The problem is not unique to that demographic; while self-consciousness is particularly common amongst younger people and women, it can and does impact those of any age, gender, body size, or fitness level.

But what if you want to get fit and you’re determined not to let this feeling defeat you? Read on for some of our top tips to help you beat the fear and get fit anyway. 

Remember You’re Not Alone

If you feel self-conscious in the gym, remember that you are far from alone. No matter how confident they look, chances are that at least some of your fellow gym-goers are feeling the same way. 

Do you look at other people in the gym and judge them? You most likely answered “no, I’m far too busy focusing on my own workout!” Remember that the same is true for everyone there. You’re all there for the same reason and everyone else will be far too focused on themselves to spend time passing judgement on you. 

Choose a Gym You Feel Comfortable At 

You might need to try out a few gyms or fitness centers to find the one that works for you. Many gyms will allow you to book a one-off taster session before you commit to a membership (and some even offer this for free!) 

Follow your gut feeling and choose the gym that makes you feel most comfortable. You might look for a gym that specializes in supporting those new to fitness. If you’re a woman, you might find a women-only gym feels more comfortable. It’s all a matter of personal preference. 

Go During Quieter Times

If you’re a new and nervous gym-goer, you can ease into it by attending during quieter times. This will of course depend on your work schedule and other commitments, and may not be possible for everyone. 

Staff members at your gym will be able to let you know the times of day that tend to be the quietest. In general, very early mornings (before 7am), midweek daytimes, Sundays, and after 9pm (for late-night or all-night gyms) are good bets if you want to go when it’s quiet. 

Join a Group Fitness Class

If the idea of exercising with others fills you with horror, hear us out. Though it may seem counterintuitive, joining a group fitness class can be a great way to get over your self-consciousness at the gym. 

In a group class, you’ll likely be with others of all different ages, body types, and levels of fitness. This will help to dispel any concerns that you’ll be the only beginner in a room full of perfect, toned bodies. You will be able to follow along with the instructor and with your classmates, ask questions if you get stuck, get constructive feedback on your form, and stay near the back if you’re feeling nervous. 

You’ll also find that the atmosphere is not judgemental, but companionable and supportive. Who knows–you might even make some new friends! 

Work With a Personal Trainer

Working with a personal trainer has so many advantages, from learning how to perform exercises correctly to crafting a fitness routine that’s ideally suited to your body and your goals. Even if you can’t afford to (or don’t want to) work with a trainer long-term, investing in even one or two sessions can be hugely beneficial for your confidence at the gym. 

Instead of worrying about how you look, you’ll feel confident that you are performing each exercise with good form. And instead of feeling lost and wandering aimlessly from machine to machine, you’ll have a plan that you can carry out with confidence. 

Get Out of Your Head

Sometimes, the best way to deal with self-consciousness is simply to (gently) push yourself through it until you realise that you feel better. Distracting yourself can be hugely beneficial, helping you to stop worrying about what others might be thinking and get absorbed in your workout. 

This is one reason so many people listen to music at the gym. Find or create a playlist of energetic, empowering tunes, put your headphones in, and forget about everyone else around you. Listening to an audiobook or podcast is also a great option, if you prefer. 

Most importantly, stick with it. You’ll soon be feeling confident, self-assured, and raring to go each time you hit the gym. 

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