Anxiety about going to the gym (aka "gymtimidation") is a common issue that many people face. Both people who have never really gone to the gym before - and even former gym-goers who are looking to return to their pre-2020 activity levels - can find the idea of starting an exercise plan to be daunting.
Some of the most common concerns we hear include feeling self-conscious about one's appearance or fitness level, intimidated by others at the gym, or overwhelmed by the variety of equipment and exercises available.
So here's some perspective and advice to help you manage and overcome your anxiety so it doesn't prevent you from enjoying the many physical and mental health benefits of getting into a regular exercise program.
★ You are NOT alone! We estimate that over 50% of people who are new to Chatham Works feel some anxiety about getting started. And well over 25% of our members would say that they were never "gym people" before they came here.
You'll see a wide range of body types and strength and conditioning levels here, and to our knowledge none of our members are pro athletes or fitness models. So there's probably at least a few people here who are a lot like you. Plus don't forget that every single person you see here was a beginner once too!
★ Exercise is a medicine that we all need ... and cardio alone doesn't cut it. Research continues to prove that exercise is a remarkably versatile and effective form of "medicine" that can help prevent, manage, and treat a huge range of mental and physical health conditions. But less than half of U.S. adults meet the CDC's Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic exercise.
Even worse, less than 25% meet the guidelines for both aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening activity. Resistance training to build and maintain functional strength and bone density is important for men and women alike for a host of reasons, and especially as we age. So while cardio is great, strength training is also critically important.
★ We have lots of experience helping people get started. Collectively our staff have many decades of fitness industry experience, and have helped thousands of people get started, set and meet goals, and make fitness part of their lives.
Our classes are specifically designed to be able to accommodate a wide range of clients. You still need to show up and put in the work! But we can and will help you get started, and motivate you to keep going.
★ It's not a contest or a fashion show. Our goal is to encourage you to show up, challenge yourself, learn something, have fun, and leave feeling good about yourself. If you do that, we're pretty sure you're going to want to come back and do it again.
People come here to exercise, see friends, and have fun - not to judge people. So there's really not much reason to worry about people judging you while you're here. This isn't a contest, and the only person you need to worry about is you.
1) Start with small, achievable goals.
This could be as simple as committing to going to the gym a certain number of times per week, or setting a goal to increase the intensity or duration of a particular exercise. (The Myzone heart rate monitor we give to all annual THE WORKS members is an excellent tool for this!) Setting - and achieving - small, realistic goals helps you make progress and build confidence, and forget about any anxiety you might have felt.
2) Find a workout buddy.
Numerous studies have shown that having someone to exercise with can help you get results by making the experience more enjoyable, and providing a sense of accountability and support. A workout buddy can also help to provide motivation and encouragement if you're feeling anxious or unmotivated. But even if you don't already have a workout buddy when you join, our classes are a great way to meet people and create new friendships.
3) Taste the rainbow.
There are many benefits to trying different types of exercises and classes to find what you enjoy, challenge your mind and body in different ways, and avoid burnout and plateaus. Chatham Works offers a wide range of options, including the Cape's biggest selection of classes, from zen to intense. So we strongly encourage you to try a variety of approaches to exercise to see what you like best. And if you're ever looking for advice on what to try next, our staff are always happy to share their ideas and advice.
4) Pace yourself and listen to your body.
Going to the gym is a personal journey, and it's important to remember that everyone's journey is different. Trying to do too much too quickly can backfire by causing you to burnout or make going to the gym less enjoyable. If you're looking to make lasting change by embracing fitness as a regular part of your life, there's no need to rush. Slow and steady wins this race. If you stay consistent at a sustainable pace, listen to your body, and make sure you're taking care of yourself with adequate rest and good nutrition, you can be very confident that you're heading in the right direction!
In conclusion, anxiety about going to the gym is a common issue that many people face. However by setting small, achievable goals, finding a workout buddy, remembering that everyone has to start somewhere, trying different types of exercises, and taking things at your own pace, you can overcome your anxiety in short time and enjoy the many benefits of a regular workout routine. And don't forget that we'll be there along the way to help!