How to Overcome “the Fear” When Exercising

Overcoming the Fear

Recently, I read a really good post on Career Girl Daily about overcoming paranoia at the gym. It was one of those posts that really hit home – I could relate to pretty much everything there. But I also realised that I have a few extra worries when it comes to the gym and exercising in general. So I thought I’d write my own post tackling those issues. Yes, a few of these points are covered in the Career Girl Daily post but I’ve added my own thoughts in here too.

1. The Fear of Being Judged

This is my biggest fear at the gym as well as when I’m running outside. Regardless of the location, I feel like there’s a million eyes on me when I’m working out, all judging. I don’t mean that in a “Oh look at me” big-headed way, I mean in a “haha, look at her” way.

I hate it. My mind races with things that people are definitely thinking about me – “What the hell is she doing?” “Wow, that’s some serious wobble!” “She looks like Phoebe running!”

The reality is, people in the gym are far too focused on what they are doing to even care about what you are doing. Most importantly, you should just focus on what you are doing not whether or not people are watching you. Do what feels right for you – I guarantee you;ll feel better once you’ve worked out.

If you’re running outdoors, people will inevitably be watching you. It’s just what it is. I run a majorly busy route in central London – through Green Park, past Buckingham Palace, across Trafalgar Square, down Southbank to Tower Bridge. Literally the busiest parts of the city. And yes, I do constantly feel like I’m being judged, there’s no getting away from that. But I turn my music up loud, look at the pavement in front of me and shut everyone else out. If I do catch someone looking at me (realistically, they’re probably looking at something else!) I just think “You know what, at least I’m trying”.

No matter what you are doing in life from food shopping to exercise, people will always judge you. All you can do is focus on doing what you need to do for yourself. And remember to enjoy it.

2. The Fear of F***ing Up

Tripping over the curb? Falling off the treadmill? Getting stuck under the barbell mid chest press? Scary stuff right?! You know what, shit happens. That’s life. All you can do is your best to stay safe.

Chances are, you won’t fall off the treadmill. You know what you’re doing, you’ve got this.

Worst case scenario? Sure, falling off the treadmill will be super embarrassing but other people have done it before and other people will do it in the future. Yes. People will laugh but so will you. Then people will forget about it and move on with their lives.

If you have a serious fear of messing up when it comes to weights, ask someone to help you. Which leads nicely on to…

No Fear

3. The Fear of Hurting Yourself

Falling off the treadmill looks painful. Dead-lifting with the wrong posture is seriously dangerous. Scrap that. Working out is dangerous full stop!

The best thing you can do is to research your workout before you go to the gym. Make sure you know what you’re meant to be doing. If you’re not 100% certain when you get there, ask someone. Either someone else working out there or gym staff. That’s what staff are there for and they have your health and safety in mind. They want you to get the best out of your workout and actually love helping people achieve their goals.

Make sure you always warm up properly and stretch well after every single workout. Also, make sure you take schedule rest days and listen to your body. If you feel tired, be careful – don’t push yourself too much. If it’s not a scheduled rest day but your body is telling you to rest, listen.

4. The Fear of Breaking Something

I don’t mean bones. I mean equipment. Some of the assisted weights machines look scary as hell and too often I have tried to adjust the seat height (I’m seriously starting to wonder if gyms cater for people my height), “broken” the adjuster thingy and just had to walk away!

If you’re not sure how to adjust some of the machinery without breaking it, watch the person using it before you – learn from other people in the gym. Still unsure? Ask for help. Now I’m going to say something slightly controversial here but it’s my personal experience. Asking for help in the gym is insanely easy – those guys flexing in the mirror are literally waiting for an opportunity to help you and look manly!

Also, I’ve said it already. Shit happens. You might well break something! Just make sure you tell the staff because the next person might hurt themselves trying to use it.

5. The Fear of a Wardrobe Malfunctions

I know for a fact that I am not the only person who worries about my clothes in the gym. And I don’t mean in a vain, am I wearing the latest brands? I mean the fear of my leggings splitting when I squat. The fear of getting off the bike with some unsightly sweat patches. The fear of the girls jiggling far too much when I run.

The only way to deal with this is to just deal with it. I know that’s not helpful and I’m sorry but there’s only so much you can do. Replace your gym/running clothes regularly and buy good quality brands. If you are prone to sweating more than most (I definitely am) choose the colour of your clothes carefully. If you’re worried about your bum jiggling too much, wear a longer top that covers it. Invest in a good sports bra and don’t wear anything too low cut. It’s all common sense really!

Brighteyed and Bewildered (8)

6. The Fear of “Fat”

Stop. Stop right there. You are NOT fat. Everyone has to start somewhere. Going to the gym or going out for a run takes a lot of motivation and a whole lot of courage. Be proud of yourself and keep going!

7. The Fear of Failure

If you’re made it to the gym or out for a run. You have already won. You are awesome.

Sometimes you’ll get to the gym, start your workout and really not be feeling it. You might usually run 5km but today, you might get 1km in and have to stop. It’s OK. For some unknown reason, sometimes we just can’t. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s OK to stop and just try again tomorrow.

As long as you don’t quit all together, you are not a failure.

Some Extra Tips

  1. Find a gym/running buddy – you’re a lot less likely to worry about these things if your’re not alone.
  2. Listen to music – I simply just block everything out around me and get in the zone. I don’t even realise there’s people around me most of the time.
  3. Start with what you know – this will reduce the likelihood of messing up or injuring yourself.
  4. Ask for help – if you don’t know how to do something, or if you need someone to spot you, ask!
  5. Take a class – worried about looking stupid? It’s hard to worry when everyone in the room with you looks just as silly!

No Fear

So, stop letting these fears get the better of you. Exercising is not easy but the benefits are insane – both physically and mentally. Get out there and enjoy it!

Can you relate to these fears? Do you have any other worries when it comes to exercising? Let me know.

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