Managing Gym Anxiety At All Stages Of Fitness

Getting started with a movement practice for the first time can be very similar to stepping on a first date. You can feel anxious thinking of what to say, your palms might feel highly sticky, and your stomach might feel like it won’t settle down.

If you’re an experienced powerlifter, dipping your toes into barre can intimidate you. Beginners are not the only ones who experience gym anxiety. Keri Harvey, a NASM-certified trainer, felt “embarrassed” at an unfamiliar gym last weekend. She said, “Despite my experience, I felt like I was giving everyone the impression that I don’t know what I’m doing.”

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Gym anxiety can strike anyone at any time. Fortunately, there are things you can do to calm your nerves before and during your movement practice. Check out these experts’ tips.

Gym Anxiety: What Causes It

Leah Katz, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, says fitness and wellness spaces can stir up some anxious thoughts. She says social media and media tell you what workouts you do and how you should look. Katz says people prone to or already suffering from anxiety may be more likely to experience gym anxiety.

Gym Anxiety: Short- And Long-Term Effects

Gym anxiety can manifest in more ways than just nervousness before a new class. Katz says you may also dread your HIIT class later in the week due to ruminating or even dreading the event itself. Katz warns that anxiety can make you feel uncomfortable and out of control and lead to depression. It’s not good to be anxious for a long time since anxiety is physical arousal.

Gym Anxiety: How to Reduce It

Here are some expert-approved tips you can use to ease your anxiety. If these tips don’t work, you can talk to a mental health professional.

  • Consider pairing your workout with a positive activity.
  • Ignore everyone else around you.
  • Enjoy every moment.


Harvey says the key to feeling comfortable with where you are in your fitness journey is to own it, no matter where you are. It doesn’t matter if you work out at home or in the gym. Whatever type of movement you choose, knowing you deserve it is important.