Going to a new gym can be intimidating. So intimidating, in fact, that almost a third (33%) of people under 35 report that self-consciousness is stopping them from signing up at all. According to the survey of 2,000 Brits by Nuffield Health, almost a quarter (23%) agreed with the statement “I am worried I’m not fit enough” to join the gym, while 24% said they were worried that everyone would look at them.
So how to beat the worries about what other people are thinking? We asked gym-goers on Twitter for their top tips on overcoming self-consciousness and were thrilled at the supportive response – proving that not only do lots of people have the same fears, but that they can also be overcome.
Check out our favourite tips below. And whenever it feels too daunting remember: everyone is too worried about their own workout to worry about you.
1. Find a gym you feel comfortable in.
“I didn’t like big gyms with lots of equipment that looks too complicated to use and no atmosphere, or an atmosphere of judgement. Now I’ve joined a personal training gym that trains in small groups. There’s great support and a sense of community.” - Becky Atwood
2. Avoid looking in the mirror.
“Make it a rule to not intentionally stare in the mirror. There are tons of mirrors in the gym, and naturally we are glance to see how we look. If we resist the urge, we forget to think about the way we look.” - Sarah Massey
3. Go at off-peak times.
“When I first started working out I felt really self-conscious, mainly because I’m not your average gym-goer and was worried I’d embarrass myself. But I overcame my fears by visiting during less peak hours, and choosing a local health centre rather than hardcore gym. There was less pressure.” - Almara Abgarian
4. Wear whatever the hell you want.
“Wear something you feel confident in - whether that’s covering up or treating yourself to a new top with a kick-ass slogan.” - Charlotte Moore
5. Invest in a PT session.
“Knowing what I was doing helped so much. So getting a personal trainer to teach me to lift, then having a set plan instead of wandering aimlessly between machines, really helped. I felt confident squatting next to ripped men because I knew my form was better.” - Hannah Jermy
6. Go with a friend.
“Going with a friend is a great alternative to a PT too, I had a friend who was scared to go as well so I started taking him as a way of paying it forward and passing on the knowledge (with the caveat that I’m not a trainer professional of course).” - Calum McSwiggan
7. Be prepared.
“There’s nothing worse than a too-small towel or not having a padlock. A big travel towel saves issues in showers – it’s absorbent, covers you well and dries well. Being early can also help, then you’re not on the last bike (at the front) at spin, for example.” - Jenny Stallard
8. Make a banging playlist.
“Put your music on. If I have the pop power queens belting female empowerment in my ears I start feeling like I can do anything too and don’t care who looks at me. It also helps me power on when I’m getting tired.” - Rachel Dashwood
9. Know you’re not alone.
“Everyone was in your shoes, not literally, at some point. They’ve all been the new kid. Ask for help, learn how to use the equipment safely and remember that other people will be far too focused on their own workout to be dissecting yours.” - Ruth Walker