Self-conscious at the gym? Overcome your ‘gymtimidation’ with ‘shy girl workouts’

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Gym anxiety doesn't have to be the barrier to good health and fitness.
Gym anxiety doesn't have to be the barrier to good health and fitness.
Getty Images/Vitapix
  • For many people, exercising at the gym can be a real source of anxiety.
  • Lately, hundreds of 'shy girl workouts' are being shared on TikTok and Instagram.
  • They offer exercise ideas that allow you to work out in a quiet corner of the gym, eliminating your feeling of being self-conscious.

If going to the gym intimidates you - mainly because you have a tendency to feel self-conscious when exercising while a crowd of fitness fanatics watch on - you’re not alone.

It's fairly common to feel conscious at the gym, whether it’s because you’re a beginner, you’ve switched gyms, or you’re afraid of people judging your fitness level. In fact, the experience is so well-known that it’s become the subject of research: one study revealed that at least 50% of Americans found working out in front of others nerve-wracking.

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According to Healthline, there’s even a term to describe the anxiety you feel when at the gym: “gymtimidation”.

But living an active lifestyle is essential to our mental and physical health and well-being. So if you want to get fit in an indoor space, like a gym, but your gym anxiety is very real, “shy girl workouts” may just help you find a way around it.

The helpful tips were originally created by TikTok users Fitpie Fitness and Stephanie Besna, who posted their videos showing exercise options for people who feel self-conscious at the gym. As Huffington Post explains, these workouts typically involve quieter movements and ones you can do against the wall - or even from the comfort of your home.

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But the hashtag #shygirlworkouts have also made its way to Instagram.

Some tips

One of the workouts, as shown by Besna on TikTok, entails weight lifting in the back of the room where no noisy machines can be found. 

Another Fitpie Fitness video suggests machine- and weight-less exercises you can do comfortably anywhere.

On Instagram, Alex, certified personal trainer and blogger of Brightly Balanced Alex, shared how she learned to go from a shy girl to having confidence in the gym. Some of her tips included planning workouts, wearing feel-good comfortable clothes, and avoiding comparisons to other gym-goers, which helped her to be more confident in the gym.

“It takes some time, but you can build that confidence in yourself,” she wrote.

Content creator Lauren Maize also wrote: “If you are already feeling nervous/anxious in the gym, then chances are you will not feel the most confident [wandering] around using different machines that are on the opposite side of the gym. So, utilise the equipment that is in close proximity to you."

Similarly, another user posted that “starting at a new gym is scary, so there’s nothing wrong with staying in one area until [you’re] comfortable with branching out …”

Personal trainer Eleni Ray, whose Instagram bio reads, “a past gym ‘shy girl’ here to help [you] get comfortable [with] lifting,” also regularly shares workouts, including ones that will allow you to stay in one spot.

“We live in a culture that places high value [on] how bodies look, so it isn’t surprising that gym anxiety is prevalent,” Sydney Tenney, a primary therapist with Lightfully Behavioral Health in San Diego, California, told HuffPost.

But being aware of the source of your gym-related anxiety can be helpful,  Rachel Trotta, a certified personal trainer and fitness specialist, told the publication. “Having the self-insight to identify that you need ‘shy girl’ moves is incredibly helpful,” she said.

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Dan Gollop, personal trainer and online coach, also shares some tips on overcoming gymtimidation

  • Get a personal trainer: they can help you learn different exercise techniques and how you can use your time in the gym effectively.
  • Train with a friend: it can be fun, keep you motivated and distract you from the crowd.
  • Remind yourself why you’re there.
  • Remind yourself that you’re not alone: Dan, who’s worked in the fitness industry for more than 15 years, has observed that many people feel anxious about joining a gym, going to a new gym or returning after a long break. 


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