Why I'm afraid of the gym

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ever since I can remember I've had pretty severe social anxiety. Sometimes just going to the grocery store was too much to handle. I always felt like people were looking at me (not for any reason in particular) so I would wear those huge sunglasses...inside of the night. It felt like I was invisible. Recently I've felt slightly better and my son broke my sunglasses so I haven't been doing that. Also, I realized people are a lot more likely to stare at the idiot wearing sunglasses indoors than just a random chick shopping for produce. Ah...rambling....this is going somewhere I promise!

I really want to join a gym. I never though we would have the money to before, but it's starting to look like it might be possible within the next few months. I even found a free 3-day pass online for our local gym. I really am anxious about it. I feel like I won't know what's going on or where anything is and i'll look stupid. What if I can't figure out the settings on the treadmill or how to use a machine? What if I don't know where to put my stuff or ask too many stupid questions? The thought of actually going there makes me want to cry a little.

On the other hand, I feel like I would get such a great workout at a gym. Just being able to use a treadmill and not run in the cold and rain would be worth it! I really feel like i would get my moneys worth there, so why am I freaking out?

So here's the question I pose to my sparkbuddies and anyone else who might be reading this...have you gone through something similar? what did you do to get through it? PLEASE if you have any advice let me know emoticon i feel like such a goofball for making such a big deal about something so small but for anyone else who has anxiety you know what I'm talking about. I used to just take a xanax in this situation but alas, I have no health insurance and besides, I'm through with that crap. OVER, DONE, MOVING ON!

On a lighter note, today I weighed in at 130, which means I officially lost 40 pounds. 7 months it took me but it was so worth it!

love you Sparkfriends! Have an awesome Wednesday!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I TOTALLY can relate to what you have said here. I don't know why i would get anxiety about going to the gym and figuring out the machines. But, now I go every day and I am fine. I still get a little anxious when I have to go to a new gym (my gym has several different locations). The thing that worked for me was to make a beeline to the first available machine and figure that one out. Then after a week or so I would be comfortable with that one and try another one the next week. It took me three months before I had the courage to sign up for a session with one of the trainers so he could show me how to use the weight machines, but I did it and now I am just fine using most of the stuff in the gym. I still don't like going into the heavy, heavy weight areas with all the guys so usually I just take strength training classes instead (that is usually all girls). Good luck!!!!
    3491 days ago
    The first day at school, the first day at the gym, the first day walking into a spin class, . . . firsts are always full of anxiety (and potential). Just consider that everybody you see at the gym had a first day, just like you.

    3492 days ago
    Maybe you can go at a time when the place is not too busy. I know what you mean by social anxiety--it's a little hard for me working out in front of strangers.

    Also, most of the machines are "computerized" - you enter data onto the screen as to what you would like to do, and then the machine gives you options as to what to do next.

    I went to the gym yesterday with my daughter who can take a person for free. It was fun. I like that place because it is quiet and clean. I can't mention names of the place, but they have a statement saying: NO JUDGEMENT ZONE.
    3544 days ago
    I just joined a gym last week and the guy that signed me up gave me a tour of the facility and they had a free hour with a trainer to get me familiar with the equipment. If they don't offer that, have the people who work there show you how to use the equipment. Definitely be transparent and if it is the right gym for you the staff will be very helpful.

    I was a nervous wreck last week when it was my first time to actually work out in the gym with the trainer. She gave me the best words regarding my concerns of what others would think without my even telling her more than "I'm nervous today." She said, "Everyone in a gym had to start somewhere just like you." One of my Spark friends who knew how nervous I was told me to pretend that the people I encounter at the gym were all Biggest Loser status when they began so they will be thinking "good for her getting it going." So far I haven't been concerned with my size or fitness level. I'm holding on to the thoughts that I am worth this and everyone in the gym is silently rooting me on!
    3544 days ago
    Don't be afraid to give that gym a try !! Will people stare at you ? YES ! That's what people do. It's a perfectly normal human reaction. We like to look at what's going on around us. We like to see if maybe we recognize the person. And well, some times, we're just plain nosy.

    Keep this is mind, the people at the gym are there for the exact same reason you are i.e. to get a good workout. They want to get in and get out. What to do if some stares at you ? Stare back and give them a smile ! You might find yourself making a new friend.

    Smiles, they're contagious, pass them around !

    Try not to worry. Honestly, people at the gym are just like everyone else. NO ONE will be judging you !! If anything people are more worried about what you're thinking about them.

    Try out the gym. See if you like the facilities. Try a couple of classes for fun. Just let the instructor know that you're new so that they can show you modifications when you need them.


    3545 days ago
  • PROT358
    They really don't pay attention to you at the gym, especially the cardio room. Remember they're all in the "zone" with their ipods and maybe watching the tv monitor too. I used to think that I couldn't exercise at a gym because people would notice/snicker/judge/etc, but I quickly figured out that they're just trying to have a great workout the same as me. Maybe consider a one-week free trial run? Keep us posted!
    3545 days ago
    Have you thought about going with your husband? Or a friend? I find it easier to do new things with someone else. Sometimes gyms provide tours. Maybe taking a tour of the facility would help you feel less anxious.
    3545 days ago
    I have gym membership, and I haven't been there in over a year. So now I have anxiety about going and use the excuse that I don't want to take the car out and drive over there. Or that there's a perfectly adequate (well maybe not perfectly) fitness room in the building where I live, so why go all that way. Only I don't even go there for fear of running into somebody and looking stupid. I'm one of the older people who go to the gym in the middle of the morning or afternoon because there are fewer people there. And I still don't go. I understand completely. Maybe we should both get over it and just do it!
    3545 days ago
    I look at it this way: Joining the gym costs money. Asking questions and making the folks there show you around is how you get your money's worth! Besides, not using the facility or equipment correctly can result in injury, which is never desirable.

    When you make an appointment to visit, you might even mention your apprehension. That way a good guide can be provided, someone with great people skills that can provide patient and informed answers.

    If - and I mean this - the gym doesn't feel right, it's not YOUR fault. You are a customer and should be made to feel welcome. They should be glad to have you there, for a day, a three-day pass or as a member.
    3546 days ago
    I totally understand the social anxiety! I really really do. I have learned a lot over the years since the awkward days of being the "shy" kid but I still struggle with it! It has only been in the last few years that I've really started to realize that I can change that. I realize now that there are many many people out there that are just like us.....people you wouldn't even expect!
    As for the gym.... I still have a hard time with worrying about doing the wrong thing or looking and acting like a fool! In my blog today (thanks for your comments!!!), I actually left out the part of when a high school boys gym class came in for an hour. Honestly I got all freaked out! BUT I got things under control and realized, I am sooo not there to prove anything to anyone but myself! I really don't give two s#&@'s about what anyone else thinks! And I think the more you allow yourself to think this way, the more it gets easier and you begin to be proud of yourself!

    You CAN do this....I promise you!!!

    emoticon emoticon
    3546 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4516954
    I wasnt comfortable going to the gym for the first time either, I went during the day when I knew all the older people would be there and when they showed me around I asked questions about the machines if I didn't know what they did...hope that helps!
    3546 days ago
    I totally get this. I really do. I blogged about my own anxiety over joining a running group (blog Conquering Fears, Feb. 26, 2011, if you want to go read it).
    The best advice I can give you is to just do it. I know LOL really simple to say, much harder to do.

    When you first go to the gym, you'll likely end up with someone to show you around and to answer any questions you have. That's what they're there for.

    Everyone is a first-timer the first time they step foot in the gym. Everyone has to start and learn, no one knows everything about the gym from birth.

    I was all kinds of wigged out about going to the gym the first time. Like twitchy, face burning bright red blushy, shaky hands, stuttering and stammering. It was uncomfortable as all get-out. It was the best thing ever.

    I did it for me, and for me alone, because I wanted to. You do come to a point where you stop letting fear make decisions for you. You'll get there, and you'll be so proud of yourself for doing it, and you'll wonder what took you so long!
    emoticon emoticon
    3546 days ago
    Most gyms are very friendly and you won't be hassled or stared at. The very first time I go into a gym, I ask if they offer a free a orientation to the equipment and lay-out; or set up a single session with a trainer. Check out what classes they offer. Ask your friends if they go to a gym, and if so which gym; maybe you can make a date and go together. Also since you have a baby maybe you want to check which gym has child care available on site.

    I HAVE had my membership expire but no one was mean or hassled me about it; I just asked if I could get an extension to use up my pre-paid visits and they said they would add the unused visits onto a new pre-paid card.

    Also -- if after orientation I am not sure how to use a piece of equipment or if I have trouble figuring out the controls, I'll ask whoever is next to me (or a trainer).

    Hope this is useful! It is really helpful for me to go to the gym during the winter months in particular, it is dark when I get off work. Not every gym is expensive either -- I go to the community gym run by our Parks and Recreation Dept.; YMCA/YWCA and community colleges also are usually lower priced; plus some of the commercial gyms have really nice facilities at reasonable prices. (Then again -- if you can afford the nice luxury gym ...)

    3546 days ago
    When I first started going to the gym, I was terrified!! I was not able to stay on the machines as long as everyone else. Also, I would never venture over by the weight machines. But, I stuck with it and eventually, I was able to stay on the machines as long as everyone else. And people were asking me how to work the weight and cardio machines. I began to make friends at the gym and actually looked forward to going.
    I say, give it a chance!! Who knows, you just might like it!! emoticon
    3546 days ago
    I've been going to the gym for 4 months and I still feel that way. When I walk in, I feel like everyone is looking at me. When I am on the machines, I am afraid of falling or screwing up one way or another. We are human. We don't want to be judge; we fear being judged. It's get easier the second time around, and the third and so on.

    I'll share any embarrassing story with you. I have had my gym membership for 2 years. I use to go and then quit. When I started up again in July, I walked in and handed my badge to the guy up front. He took it and looked at it, flipped it over in his hands and asked, "What is this?" with a laugh. It turned out, at some point, they switched to finger scanning. So it was obvious I hadn't been there in a while. He laughed at me, the girl standing up there talking to him laughed at me. I laughed and just said, "It's been a while." He said, "Obviously" and then got me set up with a finger scan. I was humiliated and was afraid before going that something like that would change and it would be obvious I hadn't been in a long while. It happened, I got laughed at, I laughed at myself, I moved on.

    The anticipation and fear of something happening is always worse then the actual event. Sign up for the gym and you will get the hang of it.
    3546 days ago
    Yeah, I've avoided going to the gym for the same reasons you have. You've gotta realize that most people are kind of self-conscious about going to the gym at first. But like any other new experience, eventually it's not new any more and you get comfortable with it. Focus on the end, not the start--you will be happier when you start going.Is there anyone you could bring with you? Sometimes when you can laugh and joke with someone else about how little you know you are less embarrassed and have more fun!
    3546 days ago
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