You know that feeling when you walk into a new environment with a lot of people around, and your eyelids suddenly feel heavy? Trust me, I can relate. Picture this – 140 pound David Tyler walking into a college gym full of hundreds of people who all seemingly know what they’re doing, and almost blacking out repeatedly – this was me. I had nearly unbearable gym anxiety, and I overcame it. Take these steps seriously and I guarantee you’ll find yourself with happy and worry-free workouts in no time!
Step 1: Music On
This is a serious game-changer, and I can’t recommend it enough. Get a nice pair of wireless headphones and put together a few gym playlists. Don’t just stick to your normal music you listen to on your way to work or school, get something motivating and upbeat! I take my gym playlists so seriously that I actually structure the tempo of the playlist around the parts of my workout. To start, I’ll have a song that is “light” but motivating. This helps me during my warm up to relax, focus, and allow my joints and tendons to prepare for battle. Once you’re on the battlefield and ready to lift, listen to songs that make you want to chase progress and become something greater. Rob Bailey and the Hustle Standard is one of my go-to’s because his music is directly linked to bodybuilding.
This is a major first step to overcoming anxiety in the gym and the effects are significant. I promise you, as soon as you feel an ounce of relaxation from a good music playlist, you’ll be far less focused on others and more centered on yourself.
Step 2: They Are Not Looking At You
If you’re an average person, there’s a good chance you have some sort of body image anxiety. If it’s bad enough, it can lead to the constant worry that everyone is staring at you.
THEY ARE NOT LOOKING AT YOU
This type of anxiety can feel very overwhelming when you’re in a gym and surrounded by a lot of fit individuals, but you have to open your eyes and realize that everyone is thinking the same thing. You may be the inexperienced guy and feel terrible about yourself, but I can guarantee the big muscular guy flexing in the mirror has worse body image anxiety than you do.
The important thing to understand is that growing bigger and stronger or losing a ton of weight is not the solution to anxiety. This is a mental game, and you have to be aware that everyone is in it together. Be valiant, be confident, be determined to hold your head high and exhibit happiness. Eventually, you’ll find your anxiety fades away and you’ll be able to focus purely on your own workout without worrying about people looking at you.
Step 3: Walk In With A Plan
There’s nothing worse than walking into the gym and realizing you have no idea what equipment to use or how to use it. This was another major obstacle for me when I was beginning my journey, and through trial and error, I found the solution.
YouTube, Google, and blogs are great ways to begin developing a knowledge base of exercises, routines, and equipment. Don’t make it complicated, decide on a body part you want to improve upon and research some exercises for it. For example, when I started my journey, I was absolutely determined to grow impressive arms. After a few nights of binge watching YouTube videos, I found myself with a list of exercises that would drive my entire workout twice a week. You may find that initial gym anxiety will cause you to forget your workout routine – this is normal when you’re new to the gym. Don’t be afraid to write down some notes on your phone or bring a notebook that has your workout written out, this will benefit you so much!