Dealing with Gym Anxiety - Advice from a Personal Trainer

As a qualified PT, I consider myself well versed in the gym environment, however I’ve recently started Powerlifting and as a newbie to the sport, have found myself experiencing some anxiety in the gym.

The fitness industry is renowned for being saturated with know-it-all types which in reality know very little. But when you consider yourself a newbie in whatever respect, it can be easy to believe that everyone surrounding you knows more than you do.

Powerlifting predominately consists of 4 major lifts, relatively simple in principle and all of which were assessed during my training as a PT, so I know I know the correct form for each lift. However, new to the sport means the numbers I’m lifting are not necessary considered large. Everyone’s got to start somewhere right!?

Whilst on the squat rack today, I could feel the eyes of pumped up guys burning through me, judging me on every move I made and one even insisted on helping me deload a 5kg plate! Now perhaps he was just being friendly, but it felt intimidating and I found myself wanting to run out of the lifting section and hide. But I stuck with my guns, told myself I knew what I was doing and carried on anyway.

Particularly at this time of year, there are lots of people new to the gym, many of which will experience the anxiety I felt today, so I wanted to share some knowledge in the hope to make those of you in this position feel a bit more at ease;

  1. Not everyone knows more than you. As I mentioned above, in reality those which appear to know what they are doing often know very little. If I had a pound for every time I saw a pumped up guy (or woman!) performing an exercise with incorrect form, I’d be rich! Like really rich!!

  2. We’re here to help! Never been afraid to ask staff for advice, despite the stereotype, the majority of people working in the fitness industry have gone through a major life change to get where they are, or they have an interest in inspiring and encouraging people. Use there knowledge, ask them how things work and get them to check your technique.

  3. Stick in some music and block everyone out. By zoning out, you can pretend you are in the gym on your own. The best way to stick to a fitness programme is to enjoy it! So find some music you enjoy, turn it up and have a little fun with your workout.

  4. Have a plan. Going back to my new experience of Powerlifting, I can’t begin to explain how much time and effort I spent researching and writing my programme before executing it on the gym floor. I’m not saying you have to become an expert in the field, but by knowing what you are going to do when you get to the gym, you can look up the answers to any of the questions you may have in technique etc.

Hopefully this has given you a few ideas of how to overcome your gym anxiety. Just remember, everyone was a beginner at some point in their journey. I’d love to know if you’ve got any other tips I’ve not mentioned, if you do, drop me an email - I’d love to hear them!

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