Coping with ‘gymtimidiation’
If you’ve ever felt unsure or confused while walking into a gym, you’re not alone. With the variety of machines and types of equipment, beginning a gym routine can cause ‘gymtimidation’ or gym anxiety.
Some have even taken to TikTok to express their gym anxiety and to share coping strategies through the hashtag #shygirlworkouts. Those videos have generated over half a billion views, and they depict workouts involving little equipment and space.
“I think fitness facilities or gyms in general can be pretty intimidating for newcomers,” Joseph Bonavota says, a senior exercise physiologist at Advocate Health Care. “You may not be familiar with the equipment or don’t feel confident in being able to exercise safely and effectively. For others, it might be a feeling that everyone is watching or critiquing you while you’re trying to perform that may raise your level of anxiety.”
To cope with gymtimidation, Bonavota recommends:
- Taking a tour. Many gyms and workout facilities provide an orientation to help you get familiar with the machines and equipment. These orientations are usually free for gym members.
- Meeting with a personal trainer or fitness coach. They can teach you specific workouts that are personalized to your fitness level and lifestyle.
- Setting a personal, short-term goal. Setting and achieving goals can help improve your confidence and self-esteem. You can set them on your own or with a personal trainer.
TikTok’s #shygirlworkouts, which anyone can do, can also alleviate ‘gymtimidation’ or gym anxiety by limiting the amount of equipment and space needed to complete the workout, according to Bonavota. “Exercise routines from social media can be a very effective tool if the exercise is diverse and multidimensional enough,” he adds. “If you’re targeting all five components of fitness, then you will attain very good results.” Those components are body composition, flexibility, muscular strength, muscular endurance and cardiorespiratory endurance.
Overall, Bonavota underscores the importance of exercising. “Exercise has so many benefits that are not just weight related and overall improve your quality of life,” he says.
Some of those benefits include improved:
- Heart and lung capacity
- Immune system
- Heart health
- Bone density
- Joint health and flexibility
- Memory and cognitive function
- Mental health
- Endurance and stamina
“For me, it’s not where you go but what you do,” Bonavota says. “You are far more likely to get positive results, if your exercise is metabolically friendly and you’re having fun, regardless of if it’s coming from popular TikTok videos or other various fitness apps.”
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