Athlete-students

Anxiety in the gym

Mary Allessi

More stories from Mary Allessi

Athlete-students

Photo by Marisa Valdez

The gym is arguably one of the most daunting and vulnerable places you will find yourself throughout your life. 

As a generally unathletic person, weightlifting is the last hobby I thought I would pick up on a whim. When I stepped into Crest Wellness Center on a fateful day in March, I was terrified. 

It has been nine months and I am slightly less scared of going to the gym. Here are some ways to ease gym anxiety. 

It’s easy to feel like you “don’t belong” when you first start going to the gym. No matter what kind of workout you’re doing, the best thing you can do is have a plan. 

There are multiple benefits to planning out your workout beforehand. First of all, you will feel more confident about what you’re doing. If you are able to walk around the gym with a sense of purpose, it gets rid of some of the uncertainty that comes with trying something new. 

Secondly, a written plan will speed up your workout. Time is a huge limiting factor for college students who want to go to the gym. If you know what you want to do, you won’t waste your time trying to figure out where to go next. 

A plan also encourages consistency. Getting into the swing of things when you first start working out is difficult. It takes time to adjust, but if you do the same thing every week it helps working out become part of your routine. 

The third thing you can do to enjoy your time in the gym is to go with a friend. Having someone you trust and can have fun with has the power to instantly relieve you of dread and uneasiness. 

The person you bring may or may not have gym experience, but having them by your side can give you the assurance to use spaces or equipment that may feel too intimidating when you’re alone. 

You may prefer working out alone in the long run, but it’s nice to have someone learning the ropes with you. 

It also helps when you wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. This may sound obvious, but it took me a long time to figure out that the gym clothes I started with didn’t make me feel good about myself. 

This is something that changes daily for me. I love to wear cute matching workout clothes, but I also love to wear a Tasmanian Devil crewneck and windbreaker pants. It’s less conventional, but it’s my favorite gym outfit and I have my best lifts when I wear it. 

The gym is meant to take you out of your comfort zone. You are constantly pushing your physical and mental limits, for the sake of bettering yourself. 

For all I know, it might be impossible to completely get rid of gym anxiety. I’ve been doing a similar routine for nine months, and I still haven’t cracked the code. 

The thoughts may not go away, but you can teach yourself to manage them. Fake it ‘til you make it, wear some cute clothes, and remember that you belong in that gym just as much as everyone around you. 

Allessi can be reached at [email protected]