One in four non-gym goers in the UK would rather have an injection or be in a room with a spider than go to the gym, according to new research – and we can totally relate.
The study, commissioned from PureGym, found that 50% of the 1,000 non-gym goers surveyed admitted to “feeling scared” of the gym. Some even stated their phobia was worse than their fear of heights.
Not only that, but nearly a third said they’d rather give up their phone for a day instead of going to the gym alone, and one in five said they’d rather stand on top of a skyscraper. Vertigo over a go on the cross-trainer? Crikey.
Fear expert Dr. Margee Kerr says the social element of the gym is to blame for such high anxiety – but it’s a fear we can all overcome.
The top five sources of gym nerves, according to the study, were:
1. Looking stupid in front of other people
2. Feeling self-conscious next to other people
3. People judging your body shape
4. Not knowing how to set up the machines/equipment
5. Not being strong enough or fit enough to use the machines properly.
Dr Kerr, who teaches and researches everything ‘fear’ related at the University of Pittsburgh, commented: “Going to the gym is a social experience, meaning it carries all the potential gains that come with socialising, but also all of the fears and anxieties too.
“We, as humans, are constantly comparing ourselves to our peers, analysing how we’re similar, better, or worse. We also compare ourselves to our own expectations of what we think we should be capable of, our internal representation of our ‘best’ self”.
“Where we might be able to hide some of our vulnerabilities in the workplace or school, our weaknesses feel on full display in the gym, inciting intense feelings of vulnerability, of self-doubt, of fear.”
To help first-timers, PureGum has created three new workouts specifically for beginners.
You could also read HuffPost’s guide on common mistakes people make in the gym, as well as these stretches that are good to do before and after a workout.
And if you’re really not into the gym – just don’t go. Use our guide on taking your first steps into fitness instead – from walking and running to swimming.