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An Update on College “Gymtimidation”

 Written by    March 25, 2019

Earlier this semester, I wrote a post on going to my first rec fitness class at OSU. I’m the person that hates the gym because of my gymtimidation, which really means I’m irrationally anxious about the amount of people that can see me exercising in public—and mostly using every machine and technique incorrectly. Any time I went to one of the recreation centers, I had this fear that all eyes were on me, that I looked absolutely ridiculous, that all these guys with muscles bigger than my head were thinking about how the girl that benches the bar doesn’t belong here.

But then I found group rec classes. And I loved them!

I go with a friend every week to a yoga or barre class, and they totally take away the gym anxiety factor. Since I know everyone is looking at the instructor so they can follow along, and I’m in the back row with no one behind me, I feel a lot more comfortable looking like an idiot and doing things wrong. Going with a friend also helps; there’s someone there to ground me and remind me that I’m not the only girl that doesn’t know what she’s doing and that no one wants to talk to. All the student instructors are so kind and understanding, and each one has made a genuine effort to get to know the people that come to class and make the environment relaxed and fun.

Since then, I’ve been able to wiggle a bit further out of my comfort zone and go to the gym to work out; not in a class, but in the main areas. And actually, it’s not the worst!

I still have that little voice in my head that says everyone is watching me, but something I’ve since learned that helps a lot is listening to music. Once I have my headphones in, it really blocks out the rest of the gym, and I stop paying attention to everything and everyone around me— I realized that everyone else with their headphones and AirPods are the exact same way. My main issue was that I was always looking at everyone else, so I knew that they had to be doing the same . . . until I started playing music, and I got a realistic idea of what was going on in everyone else’s head. Suddenly, I didn’t care at all about anyone else there.


If you’re like I was at the start of the semester, I have a few recommendations for you. First, start with a rec class with dim lighting. This sounds dumb, but when it’s dark, it takes off a lot of the pressure of other people looking at you. Stress relief yoga, candlelight yoga, and even some cycle classes are pretty much in the dark, which is a great place to dip your toes in the water of exercising with other people around.

Next, think of the other ways you can get exercise. My friends and I go to the OAC climbing center every week. We definitely aren’t the best climbers, but it’s such a fun and unique way to work out that it doesn’t feel like exercise at all. The little climbing community there is so cool and the staff are friendly and helpful; they will even guide you on the moves you need to make to get up certain walls. You can also go swimming at the RPAC, or play racquetball or wallyball (which is a cooler version of volleyball, look it up) or basketball on the courts. If you don’t like going to the gym, just go there and do non-typical-gym things.

And last, the very basic thing that I hadn’t done for a whole year, bring your headphones and listen to music. I can’t explain the difference this makes. It shuts out everything. It’s great. It was really the key for me to get over my dumb paranoia of all the super strong people judging me.

In short, going to the gym is a lot like acclimating yourself to cold water. It might take a little time, but once you’re in, it feels so great and you’re having so much fun that it no longer matters.

Athletics, Author, fitness, Personal Events, Recreation, Stress, Stress Relief, Student Life


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