How to Tackle Gym Intimidation, According to a Trainer

Even the pros can have this oh-so-common feeling.

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Saying no to the gym because you have anxiety about looking like a newbie? This may be reassuring:  Certified trainer Holly Rilinger feels gym intimidation, too. We often see trainers and other workout buffs in their element, whether it’s leading fitness classes or finishing, like, a million reps on the bench press. However, there’s a good chance that if you drop that seasoned weight lifter in a Zumba class for the first time, they’ll feel some awkwardness and intimidation as well.

Here’s how to get over anxiety at the gym: Forget about everyone else. Almost everyone is so focused on their form, trying to push themselves to keep going, or—TBH—feeling self-conscious about themselves to even notice what you’re doing.

Take yoga for example. Each yoga pose takes so much concentration, strength, and balance that it’s unlikely anyone is looking at anything other than the instructor or their own reflection in the mirror. If your heels can’t touch the ground during downward dog, nobody in the room will notice—or care. And if you lose your balance during tree pose? Hey, anyone who’s done yoga regularly has probably done the same thing at least 20 times.

Just go for it, and try new things. As you experiment with different workouts regularly, you’ll probably start to adapt to new things more easily (and feel less self-conscious when you make inevitable mistakes). Plus, repeating the same workout over and over can get dull and make us lose our motivation to stick with it.

For more workout tips for gym newbies, see this video about what to expect and how to navigate the gym. And—if you’re still feeling intense gym intimidation, you could always start exercising at home. Try Holly’s full-body workout in your living room.