How do I get over the fear of working out in front of people?
Last Updated: 09/15/2020 at 7:09am
Polly Letsch, LCSW
Clinical Social Work/Therapist
I provide non-judgmental, person-centered, objective therapeutic treatment for individuals of all ages to improve social, emotional, mental and other areas of functioning.
Top Rated Answers
I'd like to say that when you work out, you should listen to music and completely pretend like no one else is in the room. Slowly you will become more comfortable with it, and if people were to judge you for working out then they need more common sense, cause gyms are made for people to get fit and healthy so they can't criticize someone for doing just that. They are probably there for the same reason you are anyway, to get fit.
Always remember that when people go to the gym they are all there for there own personal goals and are most likely not focusing on you. However, as a plus-sized woman I can understand the fear. What I do is go to the gym really late when few people are there. Slowly start scaling back your time until you are there during really popular hours. You don't have to make the transition in one week or even one month. Just take your time.
This is a really tough thing to do, and facing the fear of working out in a new environment still gets to me, even after lifting weights for 6 years. First, we have to settle into some of the fears we are having to understand them... are we cared of judgment? Fearful of what people are thinking about us? Scared to use the equipment wrong? Or maybe we are just introverted, and struggle to put ourselves out there in the energy of a new social environment. Your coping response to get over the hurdle of working out in front of others will start by identifying your fear, and from there using reality based thoughts to confront that fear. My favorite example of this is, "Every single person in this gym was brand new just like me at some point, and everyone has to start somewhere." Then, if it makes you feel better... join a gym that includes a trainer, so that you have someone supporting you while you get familiar with the equipment :)
Remember that you are doing something good for you and your body and you are taking active steps to improve yourself. It is not worth comparing how you look while exercising as all the fit people were at the same point as you are now.
It can be difficult and challenging when you don't feel comfortable in your own skin.... I like the idea that you could go during "un-popular" hours such as late at night, or early in the morning....However, I also feel one of the fastest, and most fun ways could be to have an accountability partner (friend, family member, co-worker) who perhaps share your interests in living healthier or getting healthier. Going to the gym together could give each of you both motivation. Trying out "New and Fun" classes together will help to keep you on track. One thing is to figure out "what" you like. If you like Dancing, try a ZUMBA class!.... If you like weights, or toning, perhaps try a "bootcamp or weight-lifting" style class. Once you find a workout that you love, It will NEVER feel like a workout. And it won't matter what others around you are doing, or thinking. You'll be too interested in getting to that class! Another thing I personally do is buy new workout clothes that make me feel great about myself... A new pattern, a new color that "pops"....These are just some thing you can try out and do now to help you get on track.
If you're working out in a gym, most people there are working out themselves and focusing on themselves. They won't even be concentrating on looking at you and how you're working out- their brain is probably more focused on what THEY are doing! If you're working out in a publiv area such as a park- you do you! You're the one who's being active and moving your body to get healthy. You should be an inspiration for others not doing that! If people are staring, you don't know what they're thinking. They might be thinking "Her outfit looks great!" Or "Hey, that's a good move I should try..." or "Good on her!" Etc. I like to think positives when I'm exercising in public and see people staring :p But as to some other suggestions- work out during not so popular times and days, or join in some exercise classes at the gym, especially classes where it's held in darkly lit rooms (such as stationary bikes). This will help you adjust to exercising in public with people, as you cannot see them! And you're in a class with people who have the same interest and maybe even the same goal as you!
Tell yourself the following: no one is even paying attention to you. Literally, no one. Most gym bro's are too busy absorbed in themselves. The regulars are all brain dead with music. The cardio rats are braindead too. Literally everyone is a zombie at the gym. Believe in yourself. You have nothing to lose and the world to gain. You're there for a reason just like anyone else. You deserve to enjoy the session. I want to promise to you, listen carefully - there is no spotlight on you. On them. On anyone. No one simply cares about anyone there. ...Just don't be the guy/gal wiping their sweaty towel on every machine haha. Do one machine, wipe it down (properly with 1 clean wipe), and move to the next. Thank you and enjoy yourself!
If you are feeling shy or embarrassed, try working out in a private place first. After some time, you can try working out in a place where there are a few people, and once you're comfortable, you can try working out in a place with a lot of people. Alternatively, you could listen to music, watch a show on your phone, etc. while you are working out. This might help you divert your attention away from the other people and focus it elsewhere. Maybe you could take a close friend along to your workout. Once you are comfortable working out with them, you might feel better about working out in front of other people.
Hello, I had always had this fear since I started working out. One thing that helped me out was listening to music while doing it. We are usually worried since we feel we are exposing our body movements to many people and don't want to be ridiculed at. The first step would be to start working out alone for a few days. This will make you feel comfortable in your own skin. After this, it would be better to try working out at times where there are fewer people and see if you are comfortable, and then work out at the busy times.
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