Don’t let those fitness fears put you off getting started. Find out how to overcome the most common fears so the gym appears a little less daunting place.

The phrase 'gymtimidation' has been coined to describe the fear and intimidation commonly experienced by people when they think about attending the gym, or starting a new fitness venture. Here are seven of the most common fitness fears people face and reasons why you shouldn’t let them affect your training any longer.  

1. I don’t know where to start or what to do

Beginning any new venture in life can bring its own fears and starting a fitness regime is no different. Remember that everyone was a beginner at the gym once and it is perfectly natural to feel apprehensive about your new challenge. 

If you are looking to join, or have recently joined a gym then make sure you take full advantage of any induction sessions offered. Even if you have already had an induction, you can still check how to use the machines with the instructors. It is better to ask and find out the correct techniques rather than guess and end up with an injury, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Another important thing you should do, which will help you figure out what your next steps is to think about what you want to get out of your training. Do you want to lose a specific amount of weight ? Or focus specifically on toning your arms? Whatever it is you aim to do, you can then figure out how you can reach these goals and what exercise you will need to do to get there. It is also a useful idea to keep a planner or fitness diary or blog to keep track of your progress and get the most out of your training. 

2. I won't be able to keep up with everyone

Everyone has got to start somewhere, at some point everyone you see in the gym started out as a beginner. There is no point comparing yourself to other people, as this is likely to leave you feeling disappointed and demotivated. You should remember that it’s all about your own progress; the only person you should be competing against is yourself. You are not expected to be exceptionally fit when you first start at the gym, or begin any other sport because that is the reason you are starting - to improve your fitness. 

Many people are also apprehensive about attending a new fitness class because they fear the instructor will push them too hard. However the instructors are trained to create an environment that suits all fitness levels and should consider all abilities in their classes. Class instructors get new people in their sessions all the time, so they are used to seeing any initial fears you might have about starting.

Taking a group class is a great way to begin your fitness venture as you are shown specifically what to do. As a beginner you should turn up a little earlier and tell your instructor it is your first session. You can also use the time to find a spot in the room where you will be most comfortable during the session.

3. Everyone will judge me

This is a common fear amongst people attending the gym for the first time, but in all honesty other people in the gym will be so focused on what they are doing, they won’t even notice you. Though it can be daunting to walk in to the environment for the first time, once you are there, you will soon realise no one is watching anyone else. 

Focus on yourself and your own technique. If someone is lifting a heavy weight, or trying to set a PB on a treadmill, they are not going to be concerned as to who has just walked through the door! You could also try going to the gym at off-peak times when it is most likely to be quiet, as this will give you some initial confidence in the equipment and allow you to use the facilities at your own pace. If this was a big problem, you could even try using a smaller gym to reduce the number of people you are likely to meet. 

Listening to music will help you to shut out any background noise, and concentrate solely on your own workout. You could even take a friend along for assurance; this would also be good motivation to keep going back if you are both encouraging each other. 

4. Do I have to wear Lycra?

No! You don’t have to wear it if you don’t want to. Lycra is always an option if you do want to wear it but it is not a compulsory gym rule! Never wear anything that you don’t feel comfortable in. You need to be able to complete the exercise to the best of your ability, without worrying about having to adjust your clothing all the time. Don’t wear anything too big and loose as this can lead to the material getting stuck in the machines. 

At the same time don’t wear anything too constricting, as this can hinder your movement and ultimately your workout. Remember that it doesn’t matter what you look like, you will be red faced and sweating but so will everybody else! If you finish your session looking perfect then chances are you haven’t had a good workout. If you are doing Yoga or Pilates, you should wear clothes that are a little tighter because of the positions you will be maintaining during the exercises. 

Wear fitted clothing under looser items if you would prefer. Material with moisture wicking properties is perfect to draw away the sweat from your skin and keep you cooler during your workouts. Remember to be mindful of other people in the gym when choosing your attire. 

5. I don’t have time to go to the gym

Fitting in some sort of fitness training into their day-to-day routine is a lot easier than most people think. Gyms often offer 30-minute classes, which are a good way fit in a session before or after work. You can even workout at home to cut travel time to and from the gym. Get up 15-minutes earlier in the morning and complete a quick workout at home, without the need for any equipment. 

Little lifestyle changes also make a big difference. Adapt your routines to suit your lifestyle, if you can only fit in a 20 minute workout one day, do it rather than just saying: ‘I don’t have the time.’ All of those 20 minute sessions a week add up and are certainly more beneficial to you than not bothering with any exercise at all. You won't be the first or last person to say they haven’t got the time to go to the gym; it can be very difficult to find time between work, family life and day-to-day commitments but don’t let this put you off any longer.

Simple day-to-day changes can make a big difference: take the stairs rather than a lift, go out for a walk or run during your lunch hour or complete exercises while watching the television in the evening. Build fitness into your routine and pretty soon it will become second nature. 

6. I never see any changes when I exercise

There are a few possible reasons why your exercise regime is not getting you the results you want. Your exercises could lack the intensity needed to see changes. If you complete the same routine over and over at the same pace, your body will adapt to the demands and you will no longer progress in your fitness and reach a plateau. However you must remember that progress won’t happen overnight; it takes time and patience to see a change in fitness. 

It will be more beneficial for you in the long run, if you set short term more achievable goals, for example: ‘I want to complete five full press ups after a week of training,’ rather than saying something generic like: ‘I want to lose weight’ and being disappointed when it does not happen after going the gym for a few weeks. You should set yourself SMART targets (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) to achieve your goals. 

Alongside exercise, it is also important that you consider your diet. The correct nutrition will fuel your workouts and on the flip side, if you are eating more than you are burning through exercise, your weight will stay the same and you may even put more weight on. Exercise will make you feel better and improve your overall health, even if you can’t see dramatic changes straight away. 

7. I hated PE or gym class at school

Many people had negative experiences with sport during their schooldays, however you should not let this hold you back from taking part in exercise in later life. You may have been forced to do certain sports you grew to despise during the hours spent exercising in school, but it is now up to you to chose what exercises you do and when you chose to do them. 

Don’t rely on your memories from school as a measurement to guess what exercise will be like for you now, you are likely to enjoy it a lot more than you think. Exercise brings countless benefits such as:  improving your mood , makes you sleep better, boosts your energy, your heart health and improves your memory. The key is to find something you will enjoy and want to do, you should try a variety of different sports and exercises to find out what you like. 

If you enjoy what you are doing, you are more likely to stick to a training and fitness plan. Add music to your workout to motivate you further or try taking part in an activity with your friends. Joining a sports club is a great way to meet new people, and can be an enjoyable distraction from work.