Every day, millions of Americans struggle with taking control of their own personal fitness. There are any number of reasons for this, but perhaps one of the most impactful is gym-related anxiety, commonly referred to as “gymtimidation”. I’m sure most people reading this can identify, as most of us have at one point or another had some of the following thoughts running through our heads upon entering the gym:
I’m not thin enough to be here.
Everyone is staring at me.
I don’t know what I’m doing.
I don’t feel comfortable being here by myself.
These nagging negative self perceptions can stand in the way of people simply trying their best to lead healthier lives. Luckily, there are a few coping strategies out there to help. Check some out below:
Use the “Buddy System”.
According to a study by MIT, exercise is socially contagious- generally speaking, we tend to get inspired by the workout routines of those in our social networks. Working out with people who are more active has been shown to push people harder, as well as sharing workout results.
If you can’t get one of your fitness minded friends to join you, or don’t have anyone you feel will help motivate you, not to worry- there’s a very knowledgeable buddy at your fingertips. Audio fitness apps are changing the landscape of personal fitness by providing on demand support from real trainers and nutritionists. Apps like Aaptiv and MyFitnessPal are making it less overwhelming to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle, through coaching and food tracking that reinforce routines, fitness knowledge, and accountability.
In her book Mind What You Wear, researcher and psychologist Karen Pine explored the relationship between a person’s attire and their level of confidence. Her findings concluded that what we wear affects our mental processes, and so taking steps to invest in clothing that makes you feel more confident can, over time, improve your self perception. This can be a new sports bra, sneakers, that dress hanging in the back of your closet- whatever form it takes!
Another way to treat yourself is to indulge in the occasional sweet treat or “cheat day”. Even when trying to incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle, being able to acknowledge that it’s okay to let yourself be human and treat yourself can actually be proven to prevent you from backsliding more than if you never let yourself stray at all!
Remember what you’re there for. It can be frustrating to wait for results, especially when it seems like everyone around you has already attained the “perfect body”. But everyone started from the same place of uncertainty. It’s not about washboard abs and huge biceps- the progress comes with a commitment to consistent time and effort. Keep your eyes focused on the goal you’ve set for yourself, and make sure to celebrate all the milestones along the way!