How a workout buddy can help you beat gym anxiety

Click to play video: 'How to avoid feeling intimidated at the gym' How to avoid feeling intimidated at the gym
WATCH: Fitness expert Gareth Nock shows us how to avoid feelings of intimidation when walking into a gym for the first time – Dec 19, 2019

Getting to the gym isn’t easy, especially when it’s the first time you’ve become a member or if you’re looking to try a new routine. 

Many people feel intimidated when first signing up for a gym membership, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed with all the equipment, said Gareth Nock, a Toronto-based fitness expert. 

If you feel uneasy about stepping into a public workout space for the first time, don’t do it alone, Nock recommends.

READ MORE: New to working out? Here’s how to overcome exercise anxiety

“Look for a personal trainer or a bootcamp-style class, something that’s going to help you feel comfortable to walk in there, someone to support you on that journey,” he said.

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“Or even bringing a workout buddy with you.”

Forty per cent of Canadians feel intimidated by the gym, according to a 2016 poll by market research firm Ipsos. 

Those surveyed said “other people watching” them working out was one of the biggest reasons why they might not feel confident at the gym. 

Even finding a workout partner from a group class is helpful, as they can encourage you to keep going so you can start feeling comfortable in the space, said Nock. 

Being in a group or with at least one other person can help you set realistic goals for how often you can go, without putting too much pressure on yourself, he explained. 

Click to play video: '5 tips to help overcome anxiety at the gym' 5 tips to help overcome anxiety at the gym
5 tips to help overcome anxiety at the gym – Jun 5, 2019
“The reality we face is that motivation is going to be fleeting. [It’s] ensuring that we’re always focusing on the journey or the process of getting fit, as well as the end result,” he said. 
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Exercises you can do with a partner

The same Ipsos poll found that another common reason Canadians avoid the gym is they don’t know what to do when they get there. 

Using a workout plan that you can follow with a partner or with a team may help take the focus away from how you feel exercising in public, said Nock. 

One exercise you can follow is push-ups, he said, where you high-five your teammate in between each rep.  

READ MORE: 5 reasons why it’s better to work out in the morning

“It helps us build teamwork, camaraderie, and [helps] us build those relationships and sense of belonging,” he said. 

Another routine you can try is using a slam ball and throwing it to the ground to your partner, who will have to squat and throw it back to you, Nock explained. 

 “It’s getting that accountability from your workout partner which is going to make all the difference to you coming back,” he said.

“It’s that consistency.”

Finding a professional to help build a routine

If you’re able to afford it, spending a few sessions with a personal trainer will help dispel a lot of the mystery around workout routines and can help you learn the basics, said Sarah Taylor, a Toronto-based personal trainer who runs a body-positive fitness studio and was featured in a previous Global News report. 

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“I’ll go with [people] to the gym and show them how to use their equipment, and we’ll record the session so that they have an idea of how to actually do [the exercises] when I’m not with them,” she said. 

READ MORE: Is there really a best time to exercise? Experts say yes

Many of Taylor’s clients will attend smaller sessions with her for a few months, and then go off on their own once they feel ready, she said. 

“The great thing about group fitness is that there’s motivation in the community,” she said. “It’s not just about going to the gym by yourself.”

For more tips on how to work out with a partner, watch Gareth Nock in the video above. 

— With files from Global News reporters Laura Hensley and Estefania Duran

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