4 Ways To Overcome Workout Anxiety

Fitness, Mindset // Tim Pittorino, BHSC

Being anxious about working out is more common than you might think. Despite exercise commonly prescribed as ‘good’ for reducing anxiety, it can, of course, be uncomfortable or unbearable to exercise if you walk into a gym full of anxiety-triggers. 

For some, it could be the too-friendly receptionist. For others, it could be comparing your body or your workout to those around you. Not to mention, the intimidating gym equipment. These and so many others can add up to trigger your workout anxiety. 

It might sound simple, but my Number 1 fix for workout anxiety is to avoid people, places or things that trigger your anxiety. Some might say to ‘face your fears’, but I believe that working out isn’t really the time or place. 

I have always found an equipment-free walk in nature by yourself is the perfect first step. Being by yourself and equipment-free calms workout-anxiety by reducing performance-anxiety and self-judgement.

So, avoid places and people that you think may trigger anxiety, and instead, move your body in a space where you feel comfortable.

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Number 2 – Stop Judging Yourself

There is a saying… “Knowledge dissolves fear.” And knowing yourself and how the human mind works can help you avoid or overcome anxiety. 

Anxiety is an in-built safety mechanism present in ALL human beings. We as humans are designed to scan new environments to see who is a potential friend and who’s a potential foe. It’s a component of our biological survival instincts. Perfected over time, this behaviour has helped humans survive for hundreds of thousands of years.

Naturally, we will go where we feel more safe and comfortable. For some, a new gym or training environment might be an exciting adventure. Yet for those same people, being social at a Christmas party might make them feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed. Anxiety affects us all differently. 

Try to stop judging yourself, and anytime you feel insecure in a new environment say to yourself “This is a perfectly normal human response. Nothing is wrong with me, I choose to relax and enjoy being in my own skin.”

Number 3Train in Peak State. Whether it’s a gym or a park workout, train when you’re feeling pumped up. For some, this will be after a morning cup of coffee. Note: The effects of caffeine work WAY better after you’ve had an early night (ideally pre-9.30pm) and at least 8 hours of sleep. When you’ve rested your adrenal glands with a big sleep and then you give them a squeeze with caffeine, you’ll be ready to wrestle a bear! 

For others, peak state may be the opposite. You’ve been pent up in the office all day, and you can’t wait to utilise this nervous energy and transform it into a positive, anxiety-relieving workout!

Figure out your peak state and run with it!

Number 4 – Get Real

If steps 1-3 aren’t working for you, remember this:

Everyone lives in their own head and are dealing with their own issues. While someone may shoot a glance your way, they’ve likely only settled on you for a split second, before they’re back in their own world.

Also, try to remember this:

Anxiety is part of the human condition, meaning that everyone experiences it at some stage in one form or another. People are thinking about what’s going on in their own lives, they aren’t really memorising how fast you’re running, or why you’ve already run out of breath. 

In reminding yourself of these facts, you might find yourself relaxing a little more and resolving a little of your workout anxiety. 

Hopefully, the above knowledge has re-framed your workout anxiety and given you the tools to combat your anxiety next time it kicks in. I’ll leave you with a beautiful quote that I once saw in a yoga studio: 

“Always act as if something wonderful is about to happen.” 

And if you need further guidance on the best workout environment or routine for you, visit us here.

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