Joining the gym has got to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It seems almost stupid looking back now how scared I was of going, I put it of for nearly a year!
I was terrified that people were going to judge me and make nasty comments, like they do all over social media. All those memes that include a picture of someone, taken without their knowledge normally and put on the internet without their consent so people can take the piss out of them.
I’ve never understood what’s meant to be funny about that.
Call me paranoid but I did my whole Photographic Studies essay on the topic and after having to look at tons of memes and the comments on them for three months straight, the thought of being on one makes me feel sick!
Luckily I’ve not really had a bad experience at the gym so far. Typical: all that worry for nothing. The staff have been lovely and super helpful, giving me tips and advice on the best way to work on the areas I’m targeting that day. I still find it hard to go though: not for lack of motivation to work out, I’m one of those weird people who loves exercise (or rather how good I feel after working out).
Rather it’s actually getting there that’s the problem. I don’t live that close to my gym so it means paying even more money on top of my members fee to get there each time, plus once I do get there I can never guarantee that I’ll be able to get on the equipment that I want. As an aspie, having my routine interrupted can throw me completely off balance and cause me to have a mini meltdown.
Not what I want to have in a public place thanks.
There are some tricks I learnt over the last few months that have helped me, and I hope they’ll help you too!
Find out from either trial and error or asking the staff when its quietest in the gym can really help lessen the “everyone is looking at me” anxiety. I like to go around 10am because that’s when my gym is quietest and I will avoid 3-5pm like the plague- that’s when all the school kids are allowed in, something which I’ve experienced once accidentally and very quickly swore would never happen again.
I have a dedicated Spotify playlists for while I’m at the gym, full of rather “aggressive” songs (half of it is Five Finger Death Punch so you get the general idea…). This is a trick I use to help fight most of my mental health conditions, not just anxiety. Music effects my mood and I can trick myself into not giving a fuck when listening to the right songs. It’s all about finding out what works best for you: music, podcasts & audiobooks are just a few ideas but let me know if you use something else- I’m curious!
This one may seem a bit weird but stick with me here. As I mentioned earlier I get really anxious that people are looking at me while I’m working out: by looking around you when these thoughts start you are able to see that actually everyone is minding their own business and not paying the slight bit of attention to you. Just don’t do it while on a treadmill…you’ll go flying!
While physical comfort is important while working out, you’re mental comfort is just as important. Why wear skin tight clothes if you feel you don’t look right in them? If wearing the “typical” gym gear makes you feel uncomfortable then wear some baggy joggers and a old, loose top!
What tips do you have for overcoming gym anxiety? Let me know in the comments!
A twenty-four-year-old autistic writer and designer from Sheffield. Tattoo obsessed, animal lover, self confessed bookworm and eclectic witch.