Common secrets to help ease gym anxiety

Ever walked into a gym and immediately wanted to walk right back out? Gym anxiety is real, and a lot of people feel it. It can be tough facing complex machines that you don’t know how to use, particularly when everybody else seems like they do.

It can be especially stressful if you haven’t exercised much lately. If there’s something holding you back, here are a few common ways to help you feel more comfortable at the gym.

Bring a friend

Joining a gym with a buddy may help with feeling more confident about going. But that’s not the only benefit. Working out with a friend can help boost motivation, so workouts may be more challenging and consistent. After all, if a workout partner is counting on you to show up at the gym, you may be more likely to go.1

Take a tour

Let the front desk know if you’re new to the gym or haven’t been in a while. Most gyms offer no cost walk-throughs to show you around. This is also an opportunity to learn about how the gym works. 

“Don’t be shy about asking questions,” says Kristen Seymour, a certified fitness coach. Ask how the machines work. Or what section of the gym should be used for various activities, she advises. “It’s a gym — they want you to be able to use the equipment,” she adds.

UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage members with an OTC credit can download the UnitedHealthcare® app to check credit balance, use product scanner and more.

Work with a personal trainer

Working with a gym’s personal trainer is a great exercise icebreaker. If cost is a concern, some gyms may offer no-cost time with a trainer for new and existing members.

“Personal trainers are a fantastic resource,” says Seymour. “They may be able to help with gaining comfort in the gym. And they’ll help you understand where you are, fitness-wise.” A personal trainer can help teach you how to exercise safely. 

Even better, trainers can create a personalized workout plan for you based on your fitness level and goals. “Understanding what goals are appropriate and realistic can help you keep showing up and continue pushing to do more,” Seymour notes.

Make a workout plan

Arriving at the gym with no clear idea of what you’re going to do may create a feeling of overwhelm. Seymour recommends creating a workout list ahead of time. She does it herself.

A list gives your workout a purpose. “That way, there’s no looking around at all the machines and feeling overwhelmed. If I want to do leg presses and step-ups, I know exactly what part of the gym I need to head toward,” she says.

Sign up for classes

Group fitness classes are one of the ways to ease into gym life. And you can learn from a professional, whether you go for Zumba, yoga or cycling classes. “Most instructors are really kind to new participants. So don’t hesitate to let them know if you’re new and a little nervous,” says Seymour. And, she adds, “you might even make a friend or two.”

Some gyms offer specific classes that teach proper exercise form. Or they’ll teach how to cycle through a workout set on the gym’s equipment. Many classes are also broken out by experience level — or, sometimes, by age. That may make it easier to find some workout buddies.

Another advantage? Classes are a great way to sample different types of exercises to find what you love — or don’t care about.

It’s natural to feel some gym-timidation. Especially if completely new to exercise. Just remember, not everyone at the gym is a fitness professional. And most there share a goal: to help improve their health.

Staying active is one of the best ways to help protect your health. Already a UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Advantage member with Renew Active®? Sign in to your plan website to learn more and find a fitness location near you.

Already a UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Advantage member?

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