How to Overcome a Fear of the Gym

Feelings of overwhelming uncertainty can cultivate a fear of the gym. Just the thought of it brings anxiety. You are not alone. Many people struggle with the uncomfortable feeling that going to a new gym might come with.

Too often, new exercisers find themselves walking into a gym with a sense of intimidation. Which, may results in unsuccessful change in lifestyle. No, the solution is not Planet Fitness’s Judgement free zones.

To cure these anchors against success, we will identify reasons why you might be uncomfortable with the gym. Then, we will find ways to remedy the discomfort.

Fear of The unknown

Walking into the gym for the first time can come with a lot of nervousness related to being uncertain. Your first thought might be “I don’t know what I am doing” or “am I doing this right?.”

It’s very common to feel nervous about making the right choices in exercise. From my experience, learning what works and how it works comes on a learning curve. Practice and experience goes a long way.

Your first solution would be to hire a personal trainer. Certified Personal Trainers can instruct the exercises to you and create a program designed for your success.

This is, however, an investment; but if your time and well being are a priority to you, than a trainer is worth your resources! If your budget doesn’t permit a trainer, you might be able to ask friendly staff member to teach you the exercises and routines that can get you started learning for yourself.

Fear of Judgement and Ridicule

Without a doubt, everyone will experience the feeling of being judged. Every step of the way in an exercisers life span will be feelings of inadequacy. Rest assured that, most of the time, those feelings are unfounded.

For anyone that hasn’t established their presence in a gym, it can be very uncomfortable. The feeling of “All eyes on the new guy or gall” is often met by the thought of other people thinking poorly of them.

The gym can be a vulnerable place. You might look distressed which is unflattering. Your facial expressions could be described as a mix of agony and suffering that your eagerly wanting to end.

Guess what? Your not alone!

Fortunately, the same struggle most-likely exists in your fellow exercisers. There usually isn’t enough effort left to judge anyone else because everyone is focused on their own struggle

Not everyone is as shallow as you have been lead to believe. On the contrary, a lot of the most visibly muscular exercisers have been in your position before. Because they know what it feels like, they will often come to your aid or defend you against anyone that might not have the same compassion.

Fear of looking silly

You may think that you are too painfully awkward to be a gym goer. Well, unfortunately, I have to break the news to you that you are right.

Let me tell you the ridiculousness of exercising. Imagine running in place for over thirty minutes staring at a wall. Running on a treadmill is silly. Sitting in a chair huffing and puffing to displace a piece of metal two feet is down right ridiculous.

I am aware of the silliness to point that I wrote a poem about the insanity of weight lifting. The act of exercise itself seems and feels silly, but its necessary. The fact is, exercise is worth looking ridiculous to feel and look better.

When you start to feel this way, take a moment to look around. Think about how absolutely nuts everyone looks. Then think about why everyone is there in the first place. They are just as vulnerable to feeling insane as you are. So, take a deep breath, and get to work.

It’s Okay!

The truth is that going to the gym the first time makes you feel like the new kid in school. That is totally normal, but guess what? that advice is the same. Make some friends go, about your business and everything will sort itself out.

The important thing is that you are there. No matter what your financial or social status, YOU belong in the gym. It may not seem like it in the beginning, but if your intentions are to better yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, you belong in the gym just as much as anyone else.

Weight lifting for Dead Reward

A maneuver so simplistic yet so technical, the dead lift can be a glorious event. Set on a stage known as a platform, A horde of large plates on a metal shaft called a barbell lay still.

Each side secured by coiled springs so tight that the friction alone compresses the plates together; each plate weighing forty-five pounds each.

The man standing behind the bar at dead center places his feet at even lengths along the bar directly below his hips. His facial expression displays his focus and determination to the task ahead. He braces his back with a thick ten millimeter strap of leather clasped together with a metallic lever.

Engaging his abdominal wall with a single deeply held breath, he squats down to grip the bar with his hands just outside of his knees; one hand over handed and the other inverted.

Grip unbreakable and elbows extended with tension on the bar, he begins to open his hips and extend his knees. The sweat from his upper lip shows his struggle and the grunt from his throat expresses his strain. The travel of the weight seems to take ages, but at full hip extension, his struggle is met with success.

He drops the weight and thrusts his fists toward the sky in pure triumph. Taking a glance at his surroundings, he is not confronted with congratulations. The praise he expected eluded him. It seems as though displacement of plates and a bar a mire foot and inches did not draw the profound royalties of respect he previously expected.

Weight lifting for dead reward

My name is Josh

Who Am I?

My name is Josue (Josh). I am a Fitness Management graduate from Purdue University-Northwest, born and raised in the City of Hammond. My story is not one of success, but a story of failures and resilience towards success.

High school football was my inspiration into strength training. As good at the game as I had become, I realized that football was not the journey for me. Soon, I found that my calling was strength training. Even through high school, my talents in strength training out-shined my sports’ skills. So, by the time I graduated high school, I pursued strength training instead of football.

Over the years, I gained credentials in fitness and I gained experience in athletic training with college athletes, international college students, and more. With over three years of training experience and nine years of personal exercise experience, I learned the tactics that get results.

My Fitness Journey

I was obese from as far back as I could remember. Being obese most of childhood made me aware of how unattractive I felt. From the start, confidence was an issue. When I finally mustered up the courage to pursue a girl I had a crush on, she told me the brutally honest advice that I needed to hear. If didn’t I clean up my look and take care of myself physically, no one would take me seriously.

I gained strength through exercise for sports and I started dieting to gain the confidence and looks to find love. Eventually, however, I realized that I wanted to do both of those things to be the best me I could be. Those were my biggest sparks in my potential lifelong fitness journey.

My journey through body building is years long. I have lost and gained weight many times along the way, until I found what worked for me. During those years, I have implemented almost every diet and food arrangement I could possibly have tried, including fads and even dietitian recommended diets.

Today dieting and exercising are habits and a hobbies. At this point, it has become an unconscious effort to make good food choices and a healthy pursuit of greatness. Throughout the years of personal and academic experiences, I can see that my body has become a reflection of who I am on the inside and how I treat myself.

Although I still struggle to be the best I can be, I want to share the continuing pursuit of learning with you, the readers.

Missions:

I enjoy sharing this information. Part of my job and passion is to help others make informed decisions. From my experience, knowledge is built both academically and anecdotally. These experiences are why I am so confident in my direction. Failures have taught me that more information is gathered from failed attempts made with maximal effort than observing casually ever can.

Reader’s Goals:

For my readers, I want to inform and inspire. I hope that readers can learn from my experiences and set out to learn from their own experiences. Not only this, I hope readers will further their knowledge by learning from my expertise.

My Goals:

I hope to help readers become more knowledgeable and motivated enough to take action. Along with this, I will work on communicating how statements from research materials have affected my life and my experiences.

This blog is essentially my story as it continues so that you and I may be reassured that we are not alone in our efforts to be better versions of ourselves.

5 steps to Set Passionate Goals

Believe or not, setting goals the wrong way can predetermine whether you accomplish what you want. Follow these five easy steps to set passionate goals you want to accomplish, and learn what it will take to accomplish them.

1) What do you passionately want to accomplish?

When starting to think of goals be sure you state what it is that you want. If you are not passionate about what it is, your likely to not put in the effort to make that happen. Be positive that whatever the goal is you are willing to sacrifices time, energy, and resources to get it done.

(ex. I want to be fit)

2) Is the goal measurable and time sensitive?

When you’ve established what is worth the effort, now it is time to assemble it into something you can measure through bench marks and time. If your goal cannot be measured with a scale, ruler, or any tangible form; then it will be hard to clarify what it is your trying to achieve. If it can’t be counted by numbers or a definitive “yes” or “no”, it is not specific enough.

(ex. I want to lose 20lbs and 6 inches from my waist)

Put a due date on what you want to achieve. This will also clarify when you expect to get the result. If there isn’t a time frame for your goals, your goals may take too long to keep track with. If that is the case, you may even lose passion for achieving them.

(ex. I want to lose 20 lbs and 6 inches from my waist in a year or 13 months)

Be sure both parts of these steps are realistic. If you want to lose 100lbs (unless the steps include loans and surgery) a year is not realistic time frame to accomplish it. Make sure it’s doable in a healthy and positive way.

3) What steps are necessary to achieve these measurements?

Now that your goals are specific and time sensitive, figure out how this will happen. It’s easy to forget this part, but without it there will be no direction. What are the things that need to happen so that the goals are developing?

(ex. I want to lose 20 lbs and 6 inches from my waist in a year or 13 months by strength training and cardio 3 times a week and meal planning every day with weekly meal prep every Sunday at 8am.)

When writing steps, be sure they are in line with your goals and they are also measurable and time sensitive. Goals are usually benchmarks of success as well as assessing if you should reassess your goals during any bench mark period. It is recommended to have at least four benchmark periods.

(ex. I will have to lose 5 pounds by X/X/X:date and 3 in by X/X/X:date to achieve my goal of 20 lbs and 6 inches from my waist in a year or 13 months.)

4) list what you need to make those steps.

This is where you write the resources and tools you need to accomplish the goals and tasks. Be sure to gather these tools before you start goals. Mise en place is a term I learned in a culinary class. It means literally everything in its place, but to us it meant everything prepared and ready before the cooking began.

Gather your tools and assemble your resources so that everything you need to accomplish those goals are at your disposal when it is time to use them. Whether it means purchase a scale or put together a meal planner, do it before you start so that you have no excuses to slow down and stop.

(ex. 1. Meal Plan Journal, 2. Purchase a food scale, 3. Purchase body weight scale, 4. Book weight loss seminar, 5. Schedule a doctor’s appointment, 6. Set exercise program with trainer.)

5) How will you keep yourself accountable?

What are the things or people that help you stay on track? Whether it’s a fitness trainer or gym employee you see regularly, they can help you be accountable. If you plan on doing the bulk of the work alone than maybe a planner is the best option. No matter what tool or tools that you use to deter you from cutting corners, choose something that you cannot make excuses for.

(I will need a Food Journal using the My Fitness Pal App, and converse with gym worker Marty to make me feel accountable to come every day I should.)

Here’s how the plan should look:

  • I want to be fit.
  • To be fit, I need to lose 20 lbs and 6 inches from my waist in a year or 13 months by strength training and cardio 3 times a week and meal planning every day with weekly meal preps every Sunday at 8am.
  • I will have to lose 5 pounds by X/X/X:date and 3 in by X/X/X:date to achieve my goal of 20 lbs and 6 inches from my waist in a year or 13 months.
  • 1. Meal Plan Journal, 2. Purchase a food scale, 3. Purchase body weight scale, 4. Book weight loss seminar, 5. Schedule a doctor’s appointment, 6. Set exercise program with trainer.
  • I will need a Food Journal using the My Fitness Pal App, and converse with gym worker Marty to make me feel accountable to come every day I should.

The key to success will be to make sure your goal is also the plan. When you’ve put together the “What, When, and How” than as long as there is a strong enough “Why” you are bound to succeed.

Why your Relationship with Food is Important

Are you struggling with eating to achieve your fitness goals? Do you most often feel guilty for your food choices? Unless you have body dis-morphia, or lacking proper structure and consistency than maybe your relationship with food is holding you back.

Most popular diets have essentially one thing in common, and that thing is ”restriction”. Before this explanation I have to give a disclaimer. I am not a dietitian, but a nutrition enthusiast with a minor in nutrition. I only want to help you make good choices that make you happy and not guilty.

Now, what do I mean by restriction? I mean most of these diets don’t exactly promote eating certain foods more than others. Instead they say more often to stay away from certain foods. Stay away from carbs, stay away from meat, dairy, fat; whatever the case may be most “diet” trends tend to focus on what you should not eat.

You may think, why is this a bad thing; aren’t some foods bad and other foods good? Well my friend I have some poor news for you. There is not such this as a healthy food. An even bigger statement is there is no unhealthy food. I know that is hard to believe, and  it goes against what you have learned about foods.

The truth is there are no unhealthy foods. There are only unhealthy eating habits. My experience in dieting and reverse dieting has been that unhealthy habits are brought on by both a lack of foods and an excess of foods. Too much of a good thing is common, like too many sweats and over indulging on pizza.

The other end of the spectrum is that a lack of good things can bring about bad habits. In an undergrad nutrition course, I had to take food log and determine what nutrients I was lacking. I found that four out of the five days I logged were lacking most minerals and vitamins even though I was eating sufficient whole foods for caloric intake.

That fifth day, however, was well over what vitamins and minerals I needed including selenium, iron, zinc, Vitamins E, A, K, and D. What was the difference you may ask? That day I had splurged on almost a whole pizza.

What can you take away from this. If I had spread the pizza between the five days, my caloric intake and nutrient needs would have been structured better in my favor. Restriction on Pizza the rest of the week ultimately resulted in over consumption.

Pizza was not a bad food in my case. It served more good than most of the foods I had ate. Just like eating too much pizza over time, the lack of nutrients that the pizza provided would have hurt me down the road. Am I condoning pizza? Some pizza? YES! The line between over indulging and enjoying foods that can contribute to your diet is much bigger than the industry has lead you to believe.

This example shows that demonizing foods can be just as harmful as a diet over-saturated with certain foods. Dieting at the moment could not be easier. I have lost nearly ten pounds so far eating 5 donuts a week under a 4,000 calorie day volume. I am not telling you to eat that way. What I am telling you is to enjoy the foods you like while not getting carried away or feel the need to justify your eating habits with more exercise.

Ideally, it would best to eat a bulk of whole foods a day and filling the rest of your nutrient needs with foods that you enjoy. The only way you will know is to track it. This is where I give you a tool that can optimize your diet. ChooseMyPlate has the best specific dietary recommendations including telling you what nutrients are present in what foods. For more ease, I would use the mobile app MyFitnessPal.

Whatever tool you use, stay informed and make wise decisions. You do not have to feel bad for every treat you have, because these treat may be useful after all, but do not get carried away.

Should I exercise during depression?

Depression is a condition that isn’t talked about very often in mainstream fitness. Even though, being emotionally well is a huge component to being fit. Depression can be hard and disabling. In most cases, depressive moods can drain energy and physically exhaust anyone. Is it a good idea to exercise during a state of low esteem, low energy, and low motivation?

To be honest there is not a straightforward answer to this question. Exercise has shown to drastically reduce depression in most individuals, but that is not exactly as black and white as it would seem.

With the wide amount of factors playing into the affect there are really two factors that stand out the most hormones and mindset.

  • Hormones

If the reasons for exercising are related to feeling better about ones self, whether its through muscular strength and power or looks and aesthetics, hormones will be a huge factor in achieving these goals.

Most would think that hormones during hard times can be a detriment, however, results from exercises that are highly depended upon hormones in some cases seem to be in favor of progress. Certain hormones like testosterone, estrogen, Growth Hormone, IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor Type 1), and many more are keys for success. These hormones contribute to gains in muscle strength and size along with mood.

Some studies have shown increase in growth hormone responses in diagnosed MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). These studies also indicated that stress hormone cortisol did not impair the strength and energy of those patients. Contrary to popular believe strength training and cardio can be good for mental and physical progress in a state of depression.

  • Mindset

Depression is a tough place to be so entering a social environment to show vulnerability can be frighting and frustrating. Fear of social encounters during depression is very real, and most of the time it can limit progress both physically and mentally.

The first myth to be busted is that you cannot be indulged into ones emotions in public. Its perfectly acceptable to shove headphones in ears and avoid interaction as much as possible. It is not mandatory to be social in the gym.

Most fears and worries are likely overcome by taking the step forward into breaking the barriers that hold us back. Its okay to take small steps into making exercise a habit. Be short with people that must be to interacted with, and try to engage in the social pleasantries most people expect from everyone.

Going to the gym is for you and you alone to bettering yourself. Be selfish and be self-absorbed. Taking the step to love yourself starts with being able to look at yourself in the mirror and respect that you may not be happy with what you see, but your working to be a better person into tomorrow. Eventually, you will respect and begin to love the person you see working so hard.

Answer

The answer will be more often than not, YES! The truth is that for someone suffering MDD or even symptoms of depression, exercise in any form is something that will beneficial.

The act of exercising is more important than the choice in activity, so choose something you might enjoy, but keep moving forward and decide to do something. Take a class or take up boxing, no matter the choice it will be in your favor to do something.

Everyday doesn’t have to be your day

Because it is widely recommended to make an appearance in the gym for progress sake, do not think that means your obligated to do so. Some days come crying spells and some days are filled with such a strong disposition that going can result in making your mood worse. Feeling overly vulnerable can be counter productive, so don’t be afraid to hold off on exercise until your ready.

Taking time off to deal with feelings is absolutely acceptable, and the progress you have made will still be there after a day or two. There are options to replace time in the gym so that you stay on track during the hardest of times.

Peaceful yoga in the comfort of your room or the solitude of the park may be an option. This will let you feel how you feel without being uncomfortable while getting in touch with your body. A walk in the park or the neighborhood is also a step in the right direction.

Keep in mind that it would be adventitious for whatever activity that is chosen that this activity is enough to break a sweat. The way that the body responds to exercise releases hormones that make you feel good. The only way that you’ll benefit from those reactions is to be sure that the exercise your choose is intense enough. It doesn’t have to be “Ball-to-the-Wall”; just enough that your sweating for the majority of the time and throughout the cool-down.

A word of encouragement

Most others wont understand what your going through, they may sympathize and do their best to empathize, but no on will feel the way you do, and that’s okay. Do not let that discourage you to come to the gym. Most gyms are filled with people that want the same thing you do; to look and feel better about themselves. So do not let that hold you back. Doing what you have to for you, is something no self-respecting person will judge you for.

Make strides and stay as consistent as you can. If you keep at it, you feel and look better in no time. Overcoming your ailments through exercise is a tough process, but it will make you a stronger person. Stay resilient and strive to be a better person everyday and success will be inevitable.

Supporting Articles
  1. Jesper Krogh, Merete Nordentoft, Mahdi Mohammad-Nezhad, Åsa Westrin, Growth hormone, prolactin and cortisol response to exercise in patients with depression, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 125, Issues 1–3, September 2010, Pages 189-197, ISSN 0165-0327
  2. Khorvash, Majid et al. “An Investigation on the Effect of Strength and Endurance Training on Depression, Anxiety, and C-Reactive Protein’s Inflammatory Biomarker Changes.” Journal of Research in Medical Sciences : The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences 17.11 (2012): 1072–1076. Print.
  3. Carless, D. and Douglas, K. (2010) Rebuilding Identity Through Sport and Physical Activity, in Sport and Physical Activity for Mental Health, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.
  4. Payne N, Jones F, Harris P. A daily diary investigation of the impact of work stress on exercise intention realisation: Can planning overcome the disruptive influence of work?. Psychology & Health [serial online]. January 2010;25(1):111-129. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 13, 2016.
  5. Richard A. Rawson, Joy Chudzynski, Rachel Gonzales, Larissa Mooney, Daniel Dickerson, Alfonso Ang, Brett Dolezal, Christopher B. Cooper, The Impact of Exercise On Depression and Anxiety Symptoms Among Abstinent Methamphetamine-Dependent Individuals in A Residential Treatment Setting, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Volume 57, October 2015, Pages 36-40, ISSN 0740-5472
  6. Jesper Krogh, Merete Nordentoft, Mahdi Mohammad-Nezhad, Åsa Westrin, Growth hormone, prolactin and cortisol response to exercise in patients with depression, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 125, Issues 1–3, September 2010, Pages 189-197, ISSN 0165-0327,