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7 Tips to Help You Overcome Your Gym Anxiety

Planet Fitness club members working out on a treadmill
Putting together a game plan before you arrive at the gym can help take the edge off. Here's how to combat gym anxiety.

by Autumn Jones

If you've ever felt overwhelmed by uncertainty or intimidated walking into the gym, rest assured that you're not the only one.

New experiences can be a bit uncomfortable at times, but it is possible to feel confident while working out! These seven tips and tricks can help you overcome gym anxiety — so you can enjoy a positive, productive fitness experience every time you exercise.

1. Make a Plan

A simple way to take the edge off and rid yourself of some of the uncertainty associated with visiting a new gym is to put together a game plan before you get there. Decide if you're going to hit the treadmill, lift some free weights, or rotate through a circuit training program before you even set foot in the door. Being prepared will help you rock your workout (without any anxious thoughts about how you should be using your gym time).

2. Get Some Pro Tips

Consider taking advantage of the PE@PF program at Planet Fitness and stroll the gym with a certified trainer who can show you how everything works. This can really help you feel at ease, and it's included in the cost of every membership!

Participating in a program like this is a casual, friendly way to get familiar with your fitness club. It can also lead you to develop a regimen that helps you reach your goals and get the most out of your workouts. Not to mention, you can take advantage as often as you want or need!

3. Ditch Comparison

Fitting a sweat session into your day should feel uplifting and empowering — but gym anxiety can creep in when you start to compare yourself to people who are exercising around you. Although it's normal to compare yourself to others, it's best to focus on your own fitness journey.

To keep yourself motivated and feeling inspired, you can deliberately bring your thoughts back to your personal goals and the reasons you showed up to work out in the first place. Take a breath, remind yourself of your mission, and shift your focus back to the most important person at the gym: You!

4. Find the Right Time

If the added chaos of a packed gym causes your anxiety to spike, try working out during off-peak hours. To avoid busy times, call your gym and ask what hours of the days are slowest and try to plan your visits within that time frame. You may find that exercising in the early morning (or evening) works even better with your schedule.

5. Start Slow

Diving headfirst into a new workout routine may sound fun, but taking on too much at once can get overwhelming and might make you want to throw in the towel. Instead, try an ease-into-it approach. SELF magazine suggests starting with walking or jogging on the treadmill, using the stationary bike at the gym, and doing stretches (as well as body weight exercises) on the mat. Slow and steady wins the race!

6. Find Your People

Think you're the only one dealing with gym anxiety? Think again. It's common to feel uneasy amid new surroundings — but finding a support network of like-minded gym-goers can make all the difference.

Grab some inspiration and encouragement by joining Planet of Triumphs, where no accomplishment or step in the right direction is considered too small. This positive and supportive community is there to share motivating stories (as well as be your cheerleader) as you work toward your fitness goals.

7. Speak Up

Whether you're new to the gym or have been a regular for years, trying new things can understandably be a bit frightening. Remember, the support you need is readily available — all you have to do is speak up!

If you're unsure how to use certain machines or equipment, don't be afraid to ask for help. Your club's team of certified trainers will be more than happy to explain how to properly use everything at the gym.

Everyone needs a safe and supportive place to reach their fitness goals, but gym anxiety is definitely real. That's why Planet Fitness is a Judgement Free Zone®; the staff at every club works hard to provide a safe and energetic environment, where all members feel accepted and respected. Just as they should be!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.