Are You A Gymtrovert? Here’s How To Get Over Your Fear

Forget feeling self conscious. We know how you can tackle your next sweat sesh like a boss.

Woman at the gym

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the gym can be a frightening place. So many heavy, heavy weights; even more heavy, heavy men, baring their muscles in too-tight tops and grunting between deadlifts. For the uninitiated, stepping on to that gym floor can seem terrifying. How do you know what to do? What if you’re doing something wrong and you have no clue?

It’s a common affliction, says Olympic athlete Sonya McGinn, who returned from competing in badminton at the Sydney Olympics to set up SV Fitness in Dublin’s Docklands, a health club “that everybody would be comfortable in.”

“There are a lot of people who’d be very nervous to walk into a health club,” she confirms. Maybe that’s to do with self-consciousness about their looks – “if they’re overweight or underweight” – or related to the fact that they’ve had poor previous experience.

Gym newbie?
How to handle the hassle.

    • Ask for help; most gyms offer you a free fitness assessment, where they’ll give you a quick how-to on most of their equipment, and give you a personalised exercise programme to start.
    • Afraid you’ll mortify yourself? Try going at off-peak times – between the hours of 10am and 5pm or, if your gym is 24-hour, before 6am. You’ll be able to get to grips with things without fear of judgement.
    • Buddy up; Enlist the skills of a gym-going friend. Row in with what they’re doing – learn by imitation – or ask them to help you figure out what’s what. You’ll feel a lot less nervous with a pal by your side.

She’s taken a two-pronged approach to making the cowering gymtrovert feel comfortable. Firstly, she confirms, “SV Fitness is known for its friendliness. Everyone is greeted as they walk in. For first-time members, we’ll show them around – and all of their fitness assessments, every six weeks, are included in their membership. Straight away, they’re not feeling like they’ve paid their money and are being ignored.”

Next, Sonya created a ‘ladies only’ area, where women can work out with free weights without incurring the stares of the seasoned gymgoers. “Very few of our new female members used weights, or were familiar with them, so when we did the ladies only area, they took to it so well,” she reveals.

Empowering the gymtrovert to get over their fear is actually the club’s priority. “Everyone should be looked after,” she states. If that’s not the case, it might be that you need to take it upon yourself to reach out. “Approach one of the members of staff at your gym and ask them – that’s what they’re there for,” she recommends. “There are a lot of people out there who don’t have that confidence, so maybe there’s someone you know who also uses the gym, that you could approach and ask if you could go together.”

As for classes, for some, they’ll be a handy gateway to gym prowess – but for others, not so much. “If they’re shy, the last thing they want to do is be in a room with a group of people,” Sonya points out.

The really good good news is that anyone can overcome their nerves. Sonya says she’s seen gymtroverts blossom into outgoing exercisers. “Exercise can change people’s personalities,” she declares. “And it’s just because they feel at home, in a relaxed environment.”

This article first appeared in STELLAR’s April issue. The October issue is on shelves now!

October 2016 STELLAR magazine cover


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