Just so we are 100% clear I’m not a psychologist, I haven’t done any research into the area – I’m a personal training not a therapist, I want to make sure I stay in my lane.
This is completely anecdotal, this is my experience with it, I couldn’t go in a gym for 2 years because of my anxiety.
With all that said I felt like I needed to write something about it, I have/had clients suffer from anxiety in the gym.
So I’ll give you the reason why I couldn’t go in a gym for 2 – after I done my level 2 Gym instructor I was given the opportunity to work for a very well known personal trainer studio in Birmingham, I worked there for free part time for about 3-4 months, the reason was they were going to pay for 1 of 3 peoples Level 3 Personal trainer course, 1 left and that left the 2 of us, my coaching skills were miles better, I had/have an amazing coach and friend who has been in the industry over 10 years now and I learnt a massive amount from him, so I used his style and changed it to fit my personality.
Any way I was brought in for my ‘final interview’ where I was told my coaching was amazing, they really like my personality etc etc etc and then they asked me to stand up and take my top off – me being 20 I thought this is weird but I’m guessing this is what they do in PT interviews… ITS NOT!
They said my shoulders were too far forward, my back was too arched, my hips were tilted forward, I was carrying too much body weight (at the time I had a clear 2 pack with the 4 showing and 6 kind of if I tensed, so by no means fat) any way they went to completely destroy my physique, and then tried to sell me a 12 week transformation package, I walked out of the room like ‘yeah that didn’t bother me, it’s all points I’m not happy with, and things I know I need to work on’ but holy shit it bother me! I cried! I went to the gym for about 3-4 months after that and then just couldn’t face it any more.
I didn’t exercise at all for about a year and then I decided that enough was enough, I would pay for my level 3, get back in shape and that will force me to start training again, it didn’t.
The thought of going in a gym terrified me, what if everyone looked at me at laughed at my physique, what if I end up on Facebook like those ‘gym fail’ videos,
I came up with a plan, I would pay for a day pass at different gym, I would train there for a session if I didn’t feel judged then sound but even walking to and in the gym I felt like everyone was watching, waiting for me to do something stupid, and the more I would look around to see who was watching the more people would watch because it’s like ‘why is he so jittery, is he on drugs?’
It wasn’t until I almost knocked my self out when I realised no one gave a shit about me or what I was doing in the gym, I stupidly unloaded all the weights off one side of the bar in a rack, the bar flung up just missed me made a huge crash bang wallop and people looked and then looked away straight away, no one was looking to see if I was alive, hurt, standing they heard the bang quickly turned their heads and then just as quickly turned back, that was it.
It made me feel shit at the time because it was like ‘what the fuck does no one care?’ But it hit me ‘Holy shit, No one cares!’ I left that gym anyway and started at another one, I the. Stepped up my level 3 game and tried to train regularly some days though the thought of going to a gym would make me feel sick,
I qualified as a PT and now had to work in a place I was scared of, I very quickly realised again no one really cares, everyone is to busy watching the massive dude in the corner curling 120kg or the woman with the Kim Kardashian bum squatting, while she’s looking around to make sure she’s being watched, that’s all, people are too busy watching unicorns to care about what you’re doing.
Here’s the things that have helped and/or clients;
Before you go in the gym when you are in your car or when you’re in the changing rooms, go in the toilet cubical as long as it’s clean and doesn’t smell and have just 30 seconds, just clear your mind and take some breathes, then when that’s done, get your game face on and go for it!
HAVE A PLAN! Don’t just turn up and do whatever you want, plan a session with alternative exercises if you can’t get on a machine, this way you don’t feel like you’re just wondering around looking like an idiot with everyone knowing you don’t have a clue, (they aren’t, they probably haven’t noticed you, and you aren’t an idiot for not knowing every alternative to an exercise, no one knows every alternative!)
Be prepared to sacrifice your music, if you are like me when you’re struggling to breathe the feeling of earphones or head phones will make you feel claustrophobic so be prepared to have to take them off and carry on.
Reward yourself for training! But not with food, reward yourself with something special to you, I reward myself with a good bottle whiskey, you can do it with new clothing, a massage, even a holiday, if you reach your weight loss goal book a beach holiday, doesn’t have to be long 3 nights, but you need to set goals and reward yourself!
Get a trainer, either an online one or in person, someone that will be there and give you advice, someone that will listen to you and suggest things and hold you accountable, to make sure you turn up either at home or the gym.
Have fun with training, slam things, throw things, push things, pull things – Do stuff that excites you and makes YOU feel strong and powerful,
Put simply do what makes you feel great and don’t give a shit what you look like doing it!
Remember, always turn up and do something, set goals, reward yourself, have fun and don’t give a F*%K!!
The Main Author is Dan Grimes, Guest authors will be posting too.