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Toronto, Ontario - M5V 1R2
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3 Ways To Tackle First-Time Gym Anxiety

Written by Aidan Curran

Illustration Justyn Warner on Unsplash and Tyler Doupe from Student Life Network

No matter how fit you are, starting at a new gym can be nerve-wracking. However, there’s a few simple things you can do to get over the fears you might have of getting in shape, in public.

Looking at all those fit people from the outside-in can feel overwhelming. But you can rest assured knowing that most people in there were at some point in your shoes. Yes, that includes the huge guy that could probably lift a car.

This article will help you tackle your first-time gym anxiety and help you achieve your health and wellness goals.

1. Prepare And Plan

It may seem odd to prepare and plan to workout as though its a test. But preparing an action plan can make the whole experience predictable and therefore less intimidating. First, identify what exactly you want out of your time at the gym. Is it cardio? Is it strength training? Or maybe a mix of both? Whatever it may be, getting ready ahead of time can make the whole process more relaxed.

One of my favourite websites is They have an extensive database of articles that answer almost any question you might have about getting started. Also, routine tracking apps like Strong can help you overcome overwhelm by walking you through your routines.

Think of it like this—you wouldn’t go to a new country without doing some background research on what you want to do and where to go. So why wouldn’t you do the same with your new workout destination?

2. Ease Into It

When entering a cold pool, we like to dip a toe in and slowly inch forward. Just like a pool, one of the easiest ways to get use to the gym is to ease into it. Pick a simple activity like walking or biking. For the first few times you go to the gym, just do this one activity. Use this time to survey the place and learn where everything is.

When you choose something easy to do at the gym, it’s almost impossible to fail and feel like you’ve made a fool of yourself. As you do this for the first week or two, you gain knowledge of the gym and start forming new habits. Another great tip to ease into it is to go during off-hours. You can either ask staff when the least people are there, or look the gym up on Google and see what their peak hours are.

Another important thing to know is: if it’s not working, try something else! Services like ClassPass can give you the chance to try a wide range of activities before settling on what works best for you.

3. Form The Habit

Of course it isn’t easy to continue going to the gym, or else we’d all be doing it. However, if you can form the habit and make it a part of your weekly routine, you’ll find it harder to stop. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to help. If you haven’t already chosen a gym, try to find one already along your daily commute. This will make it harder to justify not going and encourage you to make the small detour.

One thing that has helped me tremendously is finding a gym buddy. By having a person that you’re accountable to, you’re more motivated to go when you’re not feeling up to it. Plus, you’ll get the chance to try new things with the help of someone else.

Even if at first you struggle to step foot into the gym, try to make the effort to go to the gym and keep the routine of going. In the early stages, working out isn’t always the most important thing – it’s showing yourself you want to do this and can commit.

And If All Else Fails?

Talk to the staff at the gym and see if they are willing to show you around a bit. The staff will be more than likely happy to help you get comfortable with the gym. Who knows?! Maybe you’ll learn or try something new and enjoy it!



Just in time for summer!

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.