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For Starters #1: Tips on how to deal with gym anxiety

By Rodrigo Verney, June 20 2022

Starting your fitness journey is an intimidating task. It is a lifestyle change that involves a lot of hard work and long-term dedication. Besides the mental commitment to consistency, gym culture in it itself can be unsettling for a lot of people. The anxiety that comes with starting something new, putting yourself in an unusual environment, and being surrounded by veteran gym-goers can be a lot to take in. So, the inaugural first “For Starters” article is here to give you tips and tricks to start your gym experience the right way.

Your brain is the first muscle you’ll have to exercise before lifting weights. The best way to get the most out of your gym-going experience is to get into the right mindset. Although it may not look like it at first, veteran gym members respect the dedication and commitment necessary to subscribe to a membership. Most of the time they are happy to help a newcomer settle in. Ask around if you need any help or aren’t sure how to use a certain machine or equipment.

A strong mindset builds strong muscles. The best way to face gym anxiety is to understand that everybody was once a beginner. As much as it may sound cliché, it helps to see the people in there differently as they have also been through their first day. The great majority welcome newcomers and are readily available for any doubts you may have. However, if you feel like you don’t want to disturb other gym-goers in the middle of their workout, always consult the gym trainers. They will help you understand the machinery and how it can help you to develop the muscle group you are targeting.

It is a common practice to join your gym with someone you know. The so-called gym buddy. This is a great way to help you maintain your focus and create a habit. Not only that but having somebody that you trust beside you can be a great motivator for the days that you just don’t feel like working out. However, there are some negatives that come with it. For example, as much as it can be a great motivator to have a gym buddy by your side, it can also be difficult to maintain your focus if your buddy eventually leaves or stops going to the gym. A better strategy is to first start by yourself. Give yourself a month to adjust to the lifestyle change, then consider joining in with a partner. This way at least you’ll be more likely to continue if they leave.

Everyone is a beginner once. The beginner feeling will soon fade away after the first couple of days given the high fluctuation rates in gyms and the familiarity you’ll naturally gain. So, if everything else doesn’t work, taking deep breaths and pushing through the first week will do the job. Spacing your workouts can be helpful to pick up a comfortable pace. Most gyms allow a trial before committing to it. Use it to test the periods and days you can fit in your schedule. This will allow you to understand the gym’s density to map out the days you would feel more comfortable. A general agreement is that Fridays and weekends might have more people, but they are usually beginners or rarely have the time to work out. On the contrary, mornings have fewer people, but they are generally more focused and dedicated.

Getting started at the gym should be seen for what it is — a lifestyle change. It is a slow and arduous process that will require a lot of willpower both physically and mentally. It is not a sprint — it’s a marathon. Give yourself time to adjust and allow yourself to go through the phases. The results will come after you’ve got into a rhythm and have built up the confidence and habit required. When you’re there, check on the beginners. They are where you once were.

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