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How To Overcome Gym Anxiety

New research by PureGym has revealed the things that can help to tackle gymtimidation the most, with visiting the gym when quiet (62%), taking a friend (35%), and learning the gym layout (44%) considered some of the top ways to improve confidence for new and existing gym members.

The research comes following a sharp increase in interest around joining the gym since restrictions were lifted, with Google searches for ‘gym memberships’ having risen by 56% since the 19th July ‘freedom’ date.

Despite this, the PureGym findings reveal that 1 in 3 gym members (39%) have considered quitting the gym due to a lack in confidence in their training or time at the gym, with some of the reasons cited for lack of confidence including not knowing how to use the equipment properly (60%), how they look (54%), and not being as fit as everyone else (56%).

The Things That Help Boost Gym Confidence The Most

  1. Visiting the gym when its quiet (62% of respondents felt this has helped boost their confidence in the gym)
  2. Knowing how to use the equipment in the gym (52%)
  3. Knowing the gym layout before visiting (44%)
  4. Having a defined workout plan to follow (39%)
  5. Visiting the gym with a friend (35%)
  6. Attending gym classes (35%)
  7. Having new gym clothes to wear (30%)
  8. Watching workout videos/advice before visiting the gym (30%)
  9. Using a personal trainer (22%)
  10. Having an induction at the gym (14%)

With more than half of nervous gym goers preferring to visit in quieter hours, PureGym has released data on the busiest and quietest times to visit the gym so new members can ease into their training regimes while they become more confident:

  • The busiest day to visit the gym: Monday
  • The quietest day(s) to visit the gym: Weekends (especially Sundays)
  • The busiest hours to visit the gym: 5pm-7pm
  • The quietest hours to visit the gym: 7am-8am and 9pm-11pm
  • The quietest day of the year to visit the gym (outside of Christmas): the final Sunday in August before bank holiday Monday

Gymtimidation Heartrate Data Graphic 3


In addition to surveying current gym members on what helps them to alleviate their gymtimidation, PureGym wanted to see how their findings translated to a real-world setting, by monitoring the heart rates of a group of participants who currently don’t use the gym due to feeling too intimidated to join.

Stress levels were tested by monitoring heart rate spikes when simply entering the gym alone for the first time and exploring the various areas of a gym setting vs. a visit with a friend, PT, or having a clear workout plan and instructions.

The tests, which involved very little to no exercise to avoid affecting the results, revealed that stress levels were significantly higher when exploring the gym alone.

Simply entering the gym armed with a clear workout plan including instructions on how to use the desired kit saw a 20% decrease in maximum heart rate.

PureGym Personal Trainer Kat Crisp has provided her top tips for reducing intimidation within the gym:

  1. TAKE A TOUR OF THE GYM BEFORE YOU START
    Whether you’re new, or are confident in your training but have moved gyms, it can feel intimidating not knowing where any of the kit is as every gym is set out differently and uses different equipment. Taking a tour of the gym before you start, either through an induction or simply walking around, can help alleviate nerves.
  2. WEAR COMFORTABLE CLOTHING
    Social media can make us believe that everyone is training in just a sports bra and the tightest, shortest shorts. If the idea of donning this kind of gear makes you feel uncomfortable, you are not alone. You do not need to be wearing a certain brand of clothing to fit in at the gym; if wearing something baggy makes you feel confident then wear that! Likewise, if you feel more comfortable in a sports bra and shorts go for it. Whatever your outfit, make sure that you can easily move around in it. You don’t want to be constantly having to readjust your clothing because you don’t feel comfortable in it.
  3. REMEMBER, IT’S NORMAL TO SWEAT
    Sweat patches and red faces are a part of the gym environment. Few people look nice at the gym, so don’t feel the need to apologise for sweating or going red. It’s just your body’s response to help you keep working out! If you are worried, take a towel with you, so you can wipe down you and the kit as needed. All of our also have cleaning stations to wipe the kit down before and after use.
  4. HAVE A CLEAR GOAL
    Think about your reason for going. This should be more than I want to lose weight or get a bit fitter or build some muscle. Get specific. Knowing your reason for going to the gym in the first place can help you get to the gym and stick to going. Motivation comes and goes so having a crystal-clear REASON for going: your WHY is important to keep you on track and pushing past any first nerves.
  5. AVOID PEAK HOURS
    Every gym has peak and quieter times: going outside of these hours when the gym is quieter can feel less intimidating. PTs and gym managers will be able to let you know the most popular times, and the PureGym app updates in real time so you can always monitor the app for a few days to know when it is generally quieter.
  6. FOLLOW A PLAN
    Following a plan is helpful as it means, rather than walking around looking for machines that are free, you have several exercises to choose from if certain equipment is already being used. This will help to make you feel much more confident in what you are doing at the gym each day.
  7. GO AT YOUR OWN PACE
    Remember that training is a skill that needs to be learnt, and everyone in the gym was once a beginner too. Don’t compare the beginning of your journey with the middle of someone else’s: it’s okay to be a beginner!

Stephen Rowe, Chief Marketing Officer at PureGym commented: “With universities returning, schools going back affording parents more time in their days, and daily life returning to a ‘new normal’, we’re ready to welcome a host of new members across all of our gyms, however we are always mindful that some people are intimidated by the gym, especially if they haven’t visited one before.

Making everybody welcome is at the core of what we do at PureGym and we hope our findings can help all members build their confidence, alongside everything else we have in place. 

Our app shows how many people are in your gym at any one time, helping you to keep an eye on how busy it may be, while also featuring over 600 workout ideas, so you’ll never be lost for what to do.

All of our gyms have cleanliness and friendliness at the front of mind too, so if you need help using equipment, just ask a member of staff or arrange an induction. Embarking on your fitness journey whatever the goal should be great fun, and we’re here to make sure that’s the case every step of the way!”

For further information on the PureGym study and tips from fitness experts on tackling gymtimidation, visit: www.puregym.com/blog/

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