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How to overcome training anxiety and enjoy working out

Walk into any busy commercial gym and you’re likely to see a wide-range of people doing a nearly endless variety of exercises. This includes weightlifting, cardio, crossfit, HIIT, functional training, stretching and more. 

For those new to a gym or just getting back into the swing of their training, it can be a daunting experience entering these spaces.

Overcoming workout anxiety - Training in gym rig and rack

An online trend that has increased in popularity is “Shy girl workouts” (#shygirlworkouts) led by famous TikTokers Fitpie Fitness and Stephanie Besna. These short videos provide helpful, body-positive advice for women who may not have the confidence or knowledge to execute their fitness training.

Sometimes called “gymtimidation” (not our favourite saying) many women can naturally feel self-conscious when working out in front of others. This includes:

  • Feeling overly exposed during specific exercises
  • Not understanding how to use a piece of equipment
  • Not knowing what sort of exercise or workout to do
  • Worried you may injure yourself or fall over
  • Comparing your body to other women

Put all of that together and it’s no wonder ladies end up avoiding the gym. That’s why we asked our personal trainers for their top 5 tips to help women overcome workout anxiety and actually enjoy their time in the gym.

1. Find your own space

Most gyms have designated stretching and functional training zones. Grab an exercise mat, some light dumbbells, a resistance band and you’d be surprised how many exercises you can do!

2. Do what feels comfortable

Certain exercises, such as hip and glute thrusts or jumping, may be too uncomfortable or awkward for you. Find what feels good for you during your first few sessions and slowly progress.

3. Bring a friend to the gym

The anxiety you feel during those first few visits could be reduced by bringing a friend to the gym. Who knows, they may end up being your new training partner!

Overcoming workout anxiety - Female friends using kettlebells at the gym

4. Get advice from a PT

Book a few sessions with a personal trainer at your gym and get them to show you how to use the equipment. They can even design a simple training program to keep you on track and motivated.

5. Celebrate every small win

Instead of focusing too much on your fears and anxieties, give yourself the credit you deserve by simply showing up. As long as you’re moving, you’re doing well!

6. Gain confidence by training at home

Not everyone is ready to kickstart their fitness training in a commercial gym. The comfort and convenience of training at home is a great way to get into the swing of things.

Overcoming workout anxiety - Two women practicing yoga at home

While you won’t have access to the same gym equipment, there’s still so many benefits to even gentle daily movements. We’ve put together a no equipment home workout or an awesome 12-minute full-body training session to help you get started. 

Once you've gained some confidence and the bodyweight workouts are starting to become easier, it's time to add some equipment to keep seeing some improvements and maintaining high motivation! A Skipping Rope, some Resistance Bands, and a lighter Kettlebell or Adjustable Dumbbell's will increase your workout intensity with a variety of different uses to get the most out of training at home.

YouTube also has thousands of guided beginner workouts for anyone looking to get their body moving on a regular basis. One of our personal favourites is MadFit - she has hundreds of videos that will help you get your sweat on and enjoy training.

Overcoming workout anxiety - Woman performing a knee tuck from a YouTube workout at home

Even if your fear is telling you to avoid the gym, it’s important to keep your workout anxiety in perspective. Demonstrating self-compassion, using deep breathing, reframing your thoughts and turning down that self-critical voice can slowly shift your mindset, allowing you to train with the freedom and confidence you’ve always imagined.

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