Fight or Flight: Overcoming Gym Anxiety

Friday, September 8 2017 8:14 AM

Overcoming Gym AnxietyIncreased heart rate, perspiration, and rapid breathing are all physical effects of exercise; however, these are also indicators of fear. Taking charge of your health can be empowering, but what happens when someone’s knee-jerk response to coming to the gym for the first time leaves them weak in the knees with anxiety?

Genesis Health Clubs Personal Trainer, Brad Jenson, explains that recognizing a client’s reservations has become a common practice when he meets with new members. “I will often say, ‘I understand your concern, but let me tell you, I have had many clients who were also scared. I will be with you and help you every step of the way, encourage, and uplift you.’” Although this phrase is about as common as fear association with the gym, the words have impactful sincerity each time they are spoken.

“I always recognize a member’s concern and then share with them experiences from countless past clients and members.” Brad went on to tell the story about one particularly petrified client who would arrive in the parking and not be able to enter the gym because her anxiety would build until tears streamed down her face. As promised, she was not alone. Brad would watch for her at the door and head outside to comfort her until she was ready to begin her session.

Whether these future frequent flyers are men or women, studies have shown both genders can get worked up by the idea of working out. A UK study found that 44% of women and 20% of men have admitted to being worried about the weight room. So, although fear and anxiety is commonly experienced by anyone setting foot in the gym, the key difference will be where you decide to make the leap. Each fitness organizations have chosen different approaches to battle this fear phenomenon, but a built-in support network ready to serve as your safety net is a key to success.

Brad has the videos to prove that when you partner with someone who will push you, success is inevitable. Today, Brad’s client is demolishing her fitness goals. “She is now the strongest girl in the gym and lifts more than a lot of the guys,” he states, a sense of pride engendered in every word, “she is fierce.”

Formula drawing for endorphinsIt should come as no surprise that Brad’s client shattered her fears with some sets and reps. A study in the Journal of Psychosematic Research found that exercise has a profound positive effect on many mood states including anxiety. Even going so far as to state the importance of reviewing exercise as a treatment to anxiety, depression, and other mood states; it seems the cure for gym anxiety can be found in the very place the fear exists.

When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins similar to receiving a shot of morphine. It ranks up there when your “skinny jeans” simply become “jeans” and that feeling you get when all your friends are pounding the “like” button on your Facebook post. Lots of things in life gives us that euphoric feeling, but not all of them will give you the physical and emotional benefits that exercise will. If the only thing holding you back is you, find someone who will believe in you more than you believe in yourself. While it’s not supported by Merriam-Webster, that happens to be the definition of a personal trainer.

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