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4 ways to overcome gym anxiety as a first-timer

You’ve signed up for a gym membership. Great! But why haven’t you actually gone to the gym yet? If fear is holding you back, you’re not alone. In fact, gym anxiety can affect everyone before their first time, from amateur runners looking to diversify their training to office workers who simply want to get fitter and healthier. 

The good news is that gym anxiety is totally normal. The even better news is that we’re here to help with a few simple tips that will let you embrace your inner confidence, avoid common gym mistakes and make the most of your membership. 

1. Go easy on yourself

Even if you’ve always kept yourself fit and healthy, going to the gym for the first time can feel like starting from scratch. So, first thing first: Give yourself a break by understanding that a little trepidation is completely natural. You may even tell yourself that your nervous excitement is simply a sign that you care and want to do well. 

In a practical sense, don’t try to go all out during your first visit to the gym. Ease into your new routine by setting yourself a modest goal — even if it’s only 15 minutes on a machine or some light cardio — calling it a workout and then building your way up from there. 

Remember that you didn’t sign up for a quick fix, so don’t fall into the trap of pressuring yourself to achieve instant results. At David Lloyd Clubs, we believe that health, fitness and happiness come from a balanced, long-term approach, resulting in a lifetime of wellness

2. Join a class

You may be new to the gym, but that doesn’t mean you have to fly solo. Joining a group fitness class might actually be the best way to banish your anxiety. After all, who has time to feel frightened when they’re surrounded by positive people in a friendly, supportive and uplifting environment? 

The prospect of taking part in a group fitness class might seem daunting, but think about it: Everybody is doing the same thing at the same time in a judgement-free zone. It’s a great way to unburden yourself from having to plan your workout and do everything correctly. You really only need to show up, take part and learn new techniques and circuits that you can repeat on your own at any time, getting your fitness journey off to a strong start. 

Likewise, a few sessions with a Personal Trainer will quickly build your confidence. They’ll handle all the planning, tailor workouts to your abilities and show you the ropes (sometimes literally). You can take their guidance and expertise forward with you as your gym anxiety becomes little more than a distant memory. 

3. Do your homework

Maybe your first gym visit isn’t a workout at all. Maybe it’s a casual stroll around the building to get your bearings, meet the people who work there and treat yourself to a refreshing smoothie in the Clubroom

Does your gym offer an induction tour or introductory session? Although your first instinct may be to decline, this is a great way to familiarise yourself with the equipment and, more importantly, get answers to your burning questions. Ask about gym etiquette, changing facilities, guest policies and anything else that may be subconsciously fuelling your anxiety. 

You can also do a little prep online. Explore your gym’s website and social media channels to not only learn more about its facilities but also get a sense of how it feels to be there. If you feel familiar with your gym before you even set foot inside, you’re already one step ahead of the game. 

We’ve created a beginner’s guide to gym slang to help you understand any terms that are new to you – they’ll soon become second nature.

4. Breathe deeply & think properly

Finally, take a little time to make sure you’re both calm and focused before your first visit to the gym. If you begin to feel anxious, use a deep breathing exercise — such as diaphragmatic breathing, in which you fully engage your diaphragm to expand your chest cavity and fill your lungs — to effectively lower your stress levels. 

You can also try to head off anxiety by reframing your negative thoughts. If you’re self-conscious, for example, you may worry that people will judge your appearance or performance. Instead, change that thought to: “That person is there for the same reason I am and, like me, they’re focused on their own workout.” 

Get into the habit of identifying negative thought patterns and switching gears to positive self-talk. Before long, you’ll be walking into the gym with confidence, focus and all the tools you need to make the most of your experience.

Ready to get started? Learn all about the classes and experiences offered at your nearest David Lloyd Club and join us on the journey to sustainable, top-to-toe wellness. 

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