5 min read

Happy woman working out in the gym

It’s easy to feel intimidated in the weight room, especially if you recently joined a new gym or haven’t lifted weights in a while. Sweaty strangers, loud music, and clanking weight machines can lead to sensory overload.

If you’re determined to get in shape and reach your weight training goals, how do you move past fitness anxiety? We’ll cover that ahead. Strap in for some gym anxiety tips to help you push through the discomfort so you can get the gains you want.

What Is Gym Anxiety?

Feeling anxiety while working out in front of others is more common than you might think. Call it gym anxiety, “gymtimidation,” or just plain old nerves.

If you’re new to lifting weights, stepping onto the weight room floor can make you feel self-conscious. You may worry people will judge you. Or you might be confused about which weight machines to use—or how to use them.

The good news is there are steps you can take to minimize anxiety, like getting a pair of quality weightlifting grips to help you grab your weights.

How Common Is Gym Anxiety?

While there’s limited data on how many people experience anxiety at the gym, the polls and studies that do exist tell a story. Gymtimidation is more common than you might think.

In a study of 2,000 Americans, as many as half of those individuals felt that working out in front of others is a daunting prospect. Three in 10 admitted to feeling anxious when thinking about getting in shape, and 48% felt intimidated by the sheer number of workout classes out there to choose from.

Not surprisingly, 32% felt intimidated when working out near someone who is extremely fit. That’s one of the biggest hang-ups among weightlifters. It can be tough to confidently approach the weight bench next to a guy who looks like he could one-arm bench press you.

Gym anxiety is common, but there are things you can do to get past it, which we explore ahead. 

Triggers for Gym Anxiety

Everyone’s triggers are different, but there are some common themes that emerge around fitness anxiety. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Lack of experience: Not knowing how to use equipment is one of the most commonly reported fears people have about the gym. Everyone around you seems to know what they’re doing, yet you’re not sure how to approach a machine. Worse, you’re worried about embarrassing or injuring yourself if you get it wrong. Women, especially, tend to worry about not knowing how to use machines or getting unsolicited advice from male peers, according to research.
  • Self-consciousness: It’s common to feel a little self-conscious in a new place, especially since gym attire tends to be form-fitting and skimpy. You might be worried about others judging your appearance or sizing you up. And if you’re hitting the gym to bulk up, you might feel even more self-conscious about your size or body shape.
  • Social anxiety: Being around new people in a strange place makes a lot of people feel uneasy. But if you get anxious around people on the regular, especially strangers, you may be dealing with social anxiety. It’s important to distinguish between temporary nerves and anxiety that persists. If you’re not sure, talk to a doctor.

Tips for Managing Gym Anxiety

Male weightlifter with anxiety

Want to know how to overcome gym anxiety? These strategies can help you address and work through those uncomfortable feelings, so you can get the results you want.

1: Realize it’s not just you.

It’s normal to feel some nerves when starting a new weightlifting routine or getting back to the gym after a long break. If you’re feeling anxious about lifting, it’s important to pinpoint why.

Are you worried about being judged? Getting injured? Not measuring up? Maybe it’s a combination of factors. First things first, figure out what’s causing your stress. And know that you’re not alone in feeling nervous.

2: Do some research.

Jumping on a cardio machine is easy. Doing deadlifts the right way or mastering the dumbbell snatch is another story. Bad form can lead to injury. But knowledge is power.

Do some research on different weightlifting moves to help you feel more confident. There are so many how-to videos these days demonstrating how to execute moves with good form. Study up before hitting the gym.

3: Get the right gear.

Versa Gripps Pro series in red

If you’re concerned that you’ll go too heavy and drop your weights, the right gear can make a huge difference. Invest in a pair of high-quality weightlifting grips, like Versa Gripps, to support your hands and wrists and help you get a better grip on the weights.

When you’re not worried about losing your grip, you can focus on executing each move with good form. And good mind-muscle connection is the key to getting the most out of each workout.

4: Take a tour.

Any gym worthy of your membership dollars will give tours upon request. Taking a tour is a great way to test the waters without diving in. You’ll not only get a look at the gym’s equipment and offerings, but you’ll also get a sense of the general vibe. Even if you plan to exercise during non-peak hours, take a tour while the gym is busy to get a better feel of the atmosphere.

Ask lots of questions and find out about personal trainers. If you decide to join, a tour will give you a much better idea of where things are and how the gym operates. This should help put your mind at ease. And if you don’t vibe with the place after taking a tour, look elsewhere.

5: Get help from a personal trainer.

There’s no shame in getting help, especially if you’re new to lifting weights. Newbie or not, a personal trainer can give you feedback about your form, teach you how to use gym equipment, and offer pro tips on how to maximize each movement for the biggest gains.

It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. You may only need a few sessions with a personal trainer to feel more confident. And many gyms offer discounted rates for personal trainers who work on-site.

6: Find your people.

Working out doesn’t have to be a solo venture. In fact, exercising with a buddy or a group can help keep you motivated and accountable. Plus, a little bit of healthy competition can give you the boost you need to push yourself just a little harder.

Workouts shouldn’t be another source of stress, so look for a group that shares your values and goals. The people around you should make you feel good about yourself—not add to your anxiety.

Train Better with Versa Gripps

Female weightlifter with anxiety in the gym

Never worry about losing control of your weights again. Versa Gripps are like hooks, straps, and gloves all in one.

Whether you’re lifting, pushing, or pulling, they help you get a better grip on your weights, so you can focus on executing each movement with precision. With built-in arch support and a quick-release safety feature, Versa Gripps help you lift more safely, reducing your risk of injury.

Find out why Versa Gripps are trusted by pro athletes and Olympians the world over, then find your perfect fit.