Fighting Back Against ‘Gym Dread’

Ask any personal trainer or physical therapist and they’ll tell you the same – getting motivated to exercise can be difficult for most people.  

Nevertheless, there will always be those for whom the very thought of hitting the gym triggers a real sense of dread. Something that’s commonly experienced by those planning to work out for the very first time, or those who’ve fallen ‘off the wagon’ and need something of a pride pick-me-up.

Unfortunately, sitting around and dwelling on what’s to come is entirely counterproductive. Making any kind of progress whatsoever means biting the bullet and hitting the gym, doing whatever it takes to overcome your bout of gym dread.

On the plus side, there are countless ways of making things at least a little easier for yourself, which include the following:

  1.  Realise that nobody’s looking

First and foremost, it’s natural to occasionally assume that everybody else at the gym is both staring at and judging you. In reality, about 99% of people who attend a gym are far too wrapped-up in their own workouts to give a damn about what’s happening around them. What’s more, there’s a certain level of gym etiquette most follow – staring at other people being a big no-no. Even if you think they’re looking, chances are they aren’t.

  1. Get the right gear

A quick but important point, be sure to treat yourself to quality compression exercise gear you feel confident and comfortable in. Try to avoid anything that makes you feel more awkward or uncomfortable than you already do.

  1.  Bring company

Simply by bringing at least one other person along for the ride, the entire thing becomes infinitely more enjoyable. In terms of motivation, support and simple entertainment, it can be so much more pleasant to hit the gym with someone you know.  

  1.  Stop criticising yourself

Being critical of yourself to such a point as to accept you need to hit the gym is fine. After all, it’s motivated you to take positive action. But once you actually sign up and get started, you should actually be complimenting and rewarding yourself on an on-going basis. At this stage, any kind of criticism or self-doubt whatsoever is guaranteed to prove counterproductive.

  1.  Set realistic goals

If you currently weigh 200lbs and intend to slim down to 150, this weight-loss shouldn’t be the only goal you establish. Instead, you should be looking at losing 5lbs by X date, 10lbs by Y date and so on. It’s important to remember that the more difficult and ambitious your goals are, the less likely you are to achieve them.  And the less likely you are to achieve your goals, the more difficult it becomes to remain optimistic and motivated.

  1.  Ask the experts

If you genuinely don’t have a clue what you’re doing or how to operate the machinery around the gym, that’s what the instructors around the place are there for. As part of the package you pay for, you’re entitled to be taken around the gym by a qualified instructor, provided with an exercise plan to follow and given complete instructions on how to use the equipment. Making things up as you go along can be demotivating and downright dangerous.

  1.  Chart your progress

Under no circumstances should you ever measure your progress only in terms of what you see in the mirror. Keep a comprehensive journal of your efforts along the way, with anything and everything you accomplish through your dedication. Accept setbacks for what they are and focus on your positive achievements.

  1.  Prioritise hydration

Last but not least, it’s a little-known fact that a lack of hydration can actually have a detrimental effect on our stress levels. When the body is insufficiently hydrated, levels of cortisol – aka the stress hormone – tend to be significantly higher than when we drink plenty of water. Allow yourself to get too thirsty and your stress levels could take a step in entirely the wrong direction.