May 18, 2024

Tackling Anxiety About Going Back To The Gym

The bottom line is though, for most people, the gym is a space to look after your physical and mental health, and so overcoming this initial hurdle and putting yourself and your wellbeing first is non-negotiable.

This is about your wellbeing – your body, your mind – no one else’s.

So, if you’re feeling anxious about returning to or joining a gym, here’s how to fight the gymtimidation. . .

Be kind to yourself

These mixed emotions are normal. You may be feeling excitement mixed with anxiety or disappointment because you’re no longer at the same fitness level you were several years ago. That is normal.

«Aim to be kind and compassionate to yourself, because the important thing is that you have set the intention to start and that is enough,» says psychotherapist Ruairí Stewart aka The Happy Whole Coach. «Remind yourself that you are there to better yourself, to feel better in yourself and to improve your wellbeing. That is enough for now.

«All we have is the here and now. »

Focus on you; not other people

We know a big part of gymtimidation is worrying what other people think of us. It doesn’t help that competition is a big part of gym culture – strength, flexibility, sweat, who has the new Lululemon leggings – but you don’t have to play into it.

«Other people and their perceived levels of fitness are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things,» says Ruairí. «You are on your own journey, and by taking that first step, each time you go the anxiety will lessen. But if you find it difficult to shut them out, then turn them into a driving force – use them as motivation to push towards your goals. »

Try and recognise when those thoughts arise – ‘they think I don’t belong here’; ‘they think I look silly’ – and remember that you can’t know what another human being is thinking or feeling. «The more you focus on your own experience and challenging your own negative thoughts and self-talk, the better you will feel,» says Ruairí.

«It is very likely that even those who seem intimidating at the gym are probably having just as hard a time adjusting to getting back into a routine,» he adds. «The point is to focus on you and your own experience and to take things a day at a time at your own pace. »

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Bring a friend

Whether it’s your partner, flatmate, support bubble, or a friend from whom you’ll have to socially distance in the gym – there is nothing like tackling gymtimidation and low self-esteem while exercising like bringing a friend with you.

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