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A Beginner’s Guide to Overcoming Gym Anxiety

We all need an outlet to relieve some of our built-up stress – whether that’s walking to Pizza Corner for a slice, or impulse buying a cute top for $3 drinks at Boomers. Although I’ve participated in both methods (perhaps even on the same day), I’ve come to realize that going to the gym is one of the most effective ways for me to decompress.

There might be one of two thoughts crossing your mind after I mentioned the word “gym”. You might be thinking, “Alright, pretty reasonable. I like the gym.” Or you might be thinking, “GYM? And have all of the frat bros watch me?” 

I’ll admit the second thought has crossed my mind more often than the first. But that little voice inside your head telling you that everyone is watching you is just a case of Gym Anxiety. 

This feeling is common in many people when they are getting their sweat on in public. I’m here to share some secrets for building confidence at the gym. This time, we won’t let the tiny voice of worry win. 

Ask yourself why you are choosing to go

Let’s be real: it’s 2022, and to say that the gym is solely for altering our physical appearance is outdated. Many people go to the gym to socialize with their workout buddy, improve their mood, and to feel stronger on both a physical and mental level. Whatever your reason may be, stick to it and try not to get caught up in what you think is expected of you while working out. Fitness is subjective, the most important thing is that it feels good for you!

Get a taste of what your gym has to offer

Many gyms offer a variety of programs that might just speak to you. For instance, the Dalplex offers a handful of amazing classes including Zumba, yoga, spin, and more. There is no shame in not knowing your exact plan walking in. Testing out a variety of different workouts or classes is totally OK – that’s the fun part! 

P.S. I recommend going to a Zumba class with a friend so you two can take over the dance floor at the Dome with matching choreography. 

Go with a buddy

In my books, bringing a friend to the gym with me makes me feel happier and more motivated to be there. Try hitting up your friend who has some experience and can show you the ropes. It’ll be like a Kung Fu situation—“patience young grasshopper”. Alternatively, going with a friend who is also new to the gym might be more up your alley. Watching each other gradually improve can be so rewarding! 

Set a schedule

Remember, the gym is to help you feel good. You are entitled to go at your own pace and can create personalized schedules that are tailored to your goals. If I’m feeling energetic during a particular week, I’ll set aside two days for cardio. On the third day, I’ll do a “stress relief” class like yoga. Everyone’s schedule may not look the same and that is more than okay. We all have different strategies to achieve our goals – so have fun with it! Remember to listen to what your body needs and when it needs to rest—off days are vital. 

That brings us to the end of my crash course in overcoming the dreaded Gym Anxiety. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so take time to explore what you enjoy and what feels right for you. Now, time to whip out your favourite matching set, pop your earbuds in, and get your sweat on!   

Dana Sabadics

Dalhousie '23

Dana is a second-year nursing student attending Dalhousie University. She is passionate about all things wellness and how to build self-confidence. She has a background in fitness instructing and has ambitions to help university like herself students achieve their wellness goals - whether it be cooking delicious meals on a budget or at-home exercises you can do in your spare time while attending Zoom University. In her downtime, she enjoys traveling, cooking, art, and going on routine 'hot girl walks'.
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