The reasons you feel self conscious at the gym and how to beat it

Hardcore Stormies Hit The Gym

Hello new gym goers! How are those 2014 resolutions going? Are you in the gym three times a week as you promised you would be? I’m guessing that if you’re here you’re either answering ‘no’ to that final question or you’re struggling.

As someone who was petrified of the gym, I know how you feel. You feel like everyone is looking at you, judging what you’re doing and how much you can lift. I promise, that’s not the case.

The reasons you feel self-conscious

  • It’s a new situation
  • You don’t know what you’re doing
  • You don’t feel like you look your best
  • Everyone is looking at you
  • The opposite sex is there
  • There are people fitter/skinnier/more muscly than you there

Let’s look at each one of those reasons for feeling self-conscious in the gym.

The new situation

I hate new situations. I get panicky at the thought of going into a new shop. It’s a problem I have and the only way to tackle it is to get used to that situation.

If possible, start going to the gym with a friend. You can be newbies together as you settle in. If you don’t have a friend to go with then perhaps get a trainer for a few sessions. Working out with a trainer can really help you to get to know a gym and gain some confidence.

You don’t know what you’re doing

If you really are completely new to this then I would recommend a personal trainer. There’s nothing worse than wandering aimlessly around the gym trying to workout what to do next. You might do some running or hop on the cross trainer but what about strength? You know it’s important but have no idea what to do. You might play around with a machine for a bit but what’s it doing?

By hopping from machine to machine with very little knowledge of what’s good for you, you’re not really getting the most out of your workout. Either do your research (regarding strength training, check out this Nerd Fitness post) or get a trainer to help you.

Most gyms offer inductions and will give you a workout plan. This is a great way to stop moving aimlessly from machine to machine and is much cheaper than hiring a trainer.

Take a look at these resources for some workout inspiration.


Genuine photo of me pre-workout. No make up but feeling awesome thanks my my Nike running top and trainers.

You don’t look good when you workout

In the gym, very few people do look good. We’re all sweating, grunting and going red faced (and if you’re not, you’re doing it wrong). You need to let go of some of your insecurities when it comes to your appearance.

If you feel the need to wear make up in the gym, do it. If it makes you feel more confident and you get a workout in, great. However, do bear in mind that you might look worse for wearing make up when it slides down your face as you get sweaty.

Invest in some really cute workout gear. Get some patterned leggings, a bright top and the prettiest trainers you can find. Stepping out in fun workout gear can make you feel awesome.

Everyone is looking at you

You’ll soon learn that this isn’t the case. Think about how you feel when you’re working out. You should be so in the zone that the people around you don’t matter. There’s no quick fix on this one but you should let your workout be about you and only you. Ignore everyone else.

The opposite sex is there

A lot of people don’t like looking less than their best in front of the opposite sex. Fair enough but firstly, you’re not at the gym to pick someone up (unless it’s part of an exercise…). You’re there to workout.

Try and turn this point into a bonus. Take your time to appreciate the pretty people around you. Then do 10 more reps.

There are people fitter/skinnier/bigger than you

Let’s say you’re overweight, as I was, and you walk into the gym only to see lots of skinny women tearing it up on the treadmill. You might feel like the biggest person in the gym but that doesn’t matter. Really, it doesn’t. Everyone has to start somewhere and who’s to say those skinny women haven’t been through their own weight loss journey?

Or, maybe you’re a guy trying to put on some muscle and you’re intimidated by all the huge guys who are already super-muscly. Again, they had to start somewhere.

You need to start thinking about this in a different way. Instead of feeling inferior to them, use them to motivate you. Do you want a great bum like the girl in the squat rack, do you want a flat stomach like the girl with the killer abs or do you want awesome guns like the dude in the weight room?

I love going to the gym now, just walking in is huge motivation.

I really hope this article helps at least one person to get over their fears and start going to the gym on a regular basis. It’s not a scary place, there are plenty of people to help you there and almost everyone you see has felt self conscious at the gym – for whatever reason – at some point.

About Jess

Typically found staring at cars, taking photos, and writing things.
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  1. Good article. Its strange I find myself a member of 2 gyms at the moment, one near work and one near home. However one I feel very comfortable in and the other I really don’t. Its just near where I work, but because its tiny, it feels very intimidating. I feel a bit like dumbo the elephant on the treadmill at times. However I have to keep remembering that in Novemeber I couldnt run for 1 min, now I can do about 20. Slap on your iPod and go for it.

    • It really is about trying to get into the right mindset and trying to focus on you and you alone. It’s hard sometimes but I think I’ve just about got used to it. I’m lucky in that I have a big gym and at the times that are convenient for me, there aren’t usually too many people in there.

  2. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein

  3. I am so grateful for your blog post.Thanks Again. Cool.

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