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How to beat exercise anxiety

Could this be you?
You have never formally exercised, led a sedentary lifestyle, the gym freaks you out though you have decided to join one for the first time!

This is what is referred to as the early stages of behavioural change. As positive a step as this is, the change can still be accompanied by low self-confidence regarding exercise.

It may be a case of being overweight and your appearance make you self-conscious.
Or that the gym environment is very unfamiliar and “scary” to you.
Potentially it could be a fear of being surrounded by fitter and healthier individuals.
Or even that your preferred workout wardrobe consists of comfortable and loose clothing as opposed to the common perception of gym-goers dressed in tight fitting, low-cut and fashionable outfits.

Perhaps it is one or a combination of all of the above.

What you could be experiencing is a high level of Social Physique Anxiety (fear relating to the perception that others will negatively evaluate your physique), and low levels of Self-Presentational Efficacy (your expectations of how you will be received by others).
Simply put, you are experiencing negative thoughts, emotions and undue anxiety connected to this early stage of your exercise life. In all probability, these concerns would have been present before you embarked on the gym experience.

Fear not.

In order to combat these feelings I would advise you to start slowly.  For instance you could train at off-peak times when there is less likelihood of perceived physique evaluation or with a training buddy as this will provide you with additional support and a distraction! Building up your confidence and smashing that anxiety will be assisted by such methods as well as your newfound exercise, allowing you to train alone and in busy periods before you know it!

Small steps in a quieter environment. Image credit: the guardian.co.uk

Small steps in a quieter environment. Image credit: http://www.theguardian.co.uk

Extreme reactions such as crash-dieting or the cessation of training altogether in order to cope with the anxiety are possible in the opposite case.
It is in this way then that those concerns mentioned above can be seen as a major barrier for newcomers to participate in exercise, and is a major influence in these individuals QUITTING even before they commence.

As an exercise professional, it is my duty to ensure that you, the client can overcome these barriers early on.
Being vulnerable to quitting is most apparent during this time however I strongly believe that a positive environment conducive to exercise and strong support; be that in a trainer or friend; will provide you the inner power to not quit.

Instead, to become a long-term exerciser and no longer feel the need to say…”I need to lose 10kgs before I exercise in front of others” or “I can only ever train when the gym is very quiet and no one is there to watch me.”

There are some certainties amongst all of this…

  • you will leave the gym feeling rejuvenated
  • your head will be held high
  • there will be a smile on your dial
  • you will look to face the next challenge in your exercise experience with steely determination (and excitement!)
  • your ongoing focus will be that of a healthier & less stressful life

    Jumping for joy is guaranteed once our health and wellbeing is in order. Image credit: healthy-lives.org

    Jumping for joy is a guarantee once our health and wellbeing is in order. Image credit: healthy-lives.org

The issue of body image is widely discussed as playing an influential role in our society today. There is significant impact on quality of life for individuals with negative psychological and behavioural issues. There is hope though!
In whatever method you select; allow us, the fitness professionals to guide you towards success and positivity in your health, fitness and life goals!

Viv xxx

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