Overcoming Gym Anxiety

My first day at the gym is still vividly clear on my mind as if it were yesterday. The sounds of heavy grunting, clouds of chalk dust, the smell of sweat emanating from a collection of the fittest men and women I have ever seen were my welcome card to the world of fitness. My feet wobbled; my knees shook. I felt as if I was standing on some rising ground. The sight of the roughly twenty perfectly chiseled men lifting weights was quite intimidating. I could feel their eyes prying my worm-like body and threadlike muscles, not knowing what I was doing inside the gym. This image gave me every reason and excuse to skip the gym for the next few months until I garnered up enough guts to go back there. This was also after I spoke with several people regarding the feelings of intimidation that I discovered that I was not the only one and that there were several things I could do to overcome this overwhelming and suffocating feeling (Cuncic, 2020). The remedy to gym anxiety is hard to come by since its hidden in the act of showing up (Lee, 2001) at the gym! This was my biggest discovery. In this paper, I will delve into several other steps that I used to overcome gym anxiety completely. These are the steps through which I overcame gym anxiety as they helped me develop Good Gym Habits.

While many people start hitting the gym “all pumped up” and full of motivation, the motivation fades out sooner than later. The plans and the routines one had previously established soon follow suit. Since this was not the fate, I wanted for myself, I sought help from various experts and produced the following three things.


By deploying routines in my work-out schedule, I ritualized it and concurrently removed “choice” from the equation. I thus ended up hitting the gym even when I had major projects and assignments, even when I was tired or sick. I also chose where I’d do the various exercises resolved never to miss any single day at exactly 5.30 pm. Initially, the routine was incredibly difficult. I had to battle my mind and my will every day. I also had to cope with missing various events since they would interfere with my work-out schedule. However, instead of feeling drained, exercising turned out to be a relaxing, rejuvenating, and energizing part of my life.

Changing the Focus from Results to Routine

When I showed up for my second consecutive week, my gym instructor sternly warned me against “watching out for muscle growth.” Contemplating later of the warning made me realize why many people give up on exercising; the results they desired don’t show up as fast as they wanted them to. Like a marathon, fitness’ results do materialize after some time (Elias, 2020). My gym instructor’s warning placed me back on the right path. By focusing on the routine, I was able to effortlessly arrive at the gym at the same time every day and felt prouder that I was there and did something rather than how much I accomplished in any one session.

Start small

I went to the gym when I couldn’t lift 300 pounds off the ground, and that was okay. I started with the little I could do and then later “revved up.” Consistency was and still is my best gym companion (second to my friends who never fail to remind me that I am still thin) with whom I have been able to increase my fitness levels, abilities, and skills. Today, I know that all I need to do is repeat my routine every day without fail, and soon the routine becomes second nature.

In conclusion, a strong routine will always keep failure at bay, thus clearing the way for success. Resolute decisions and commitment build strong routines. Since that alone can’t always stand, you’ll need to reinforce it with strong routines, which are cushioned by various necessary redundancies like gym partners, ritualized gym schedules, focusing on maintaining good routine etcetera. When one gets accustomed to the gym environment and creates essential barriers from becoming a stranger to it, gym anxiety becomes a thing of the past with the gym becoming your sanctuary.


Cuncic, A. (2020, April 20). How to Cope With Social Anxiety at the Gym (R. Goldman (ed.)). Verywell Mind; About, Inc. (Dotdash). https://www.verywellmind.com/cope-with-social-anxiety-at-the-gym-4125214

Elias, B. (2020). 5 Experts on Overcoming Gym Anxiety: How to Overcome Embarrassment at the Gym. Routine Excellence; Routine Excellence. http://routineexcellence.com/experts-overcoming-gym-anxiety/

Lee, A. Y. (2001). The Mere Exposure Effect: An Uncertainty Reduction Explanation Revisited. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin27(10), 1255–1266. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461672012710002