Overcoming Gym Anxiety In The Great Outdoors


People often talk about feeling a little lazy or unmotivated to head for the gym, but if you are one of the many people that has ‘gym anxiety’, then you know that your reasons for staying put run much deeper.

For people who are nervous or anxious about their performance, the gym can feel like torture. The walls seem to close in, they feel observed, and they develop fears that they will not perform their exercises well or that their nerves will cause them to drop a weight, freeze up, or develop a full blown panic attack.

If you have anxiety, then you probably already know the value that exercise has. Physical activity has been found to lower levels of stress hormone, cortisol – and if one thing characterises anxiety, it is the chronic presence of high cortisol levels. Follow these tips to embrace fitness once again; it could be no less than life changing, and provide you with a great reason to head into the Great Outdoors and socialise with others in a meaningful way.

Enlist The Help Of A Personal Trainer

Personal trainers (PT) are not just for the wealthy. Enlist the help of a PT who is willing to give you a kickstart into the world of fitness. This should involve creating a weights/resistance routine for you and accompanying you to the gym for the first couple of times (or as long as you need). By having a PT (or other exercise professional) with you, you will feel protected and supported. The PT will teach you the importance of technique to ensure you do not injure yourself or fail to achieve your strength goals.

They will also point out the most appropriate equipment for you, easily identifying high capacity treadmills (which are great for burning calories), appropriate weights for your size and fitness level, and ergonomic machines for greater comfort.

Often, the hardest part of overcoming gym anxiety is simply that first visit. Aim to work out at the same time every day, so you build a small group of acquaintances (eventually friends) that you can converse with, and eventually, even train with.

Join A Boot Camp

If your fitness level is high but you are reticent to work out at a gym, a boot camp may be exactly what you need.

Because sessions take place in the Great Outdoors, you can feel less restricted than you would sweating it out within the four corners of a gym.

Boot camp-style training is important for an additional reason: it involves group exercise, which wields significant benefits. A 2017 study published by the American Osteopathic Association found that working out in a group lowers stress by 26% and significantly boosts quality of life. The secret, say researchers, lies in the sense of community. By gathering together with other fitness fanatics and completing difficult challenges while encouraging each other, we receive big benefits beyond getting more physically fit.

Head Outdoors More

If you find the gym a source of stress in itself, it could be that your personality type simply favours outdoor exercise more. A 2018 study by the British Psychological Society found that more creative people (those who love working on new ideas) are more suited to outdoor activities such as cycling and jogging than working in a structured gym environment.

The first step towards enjoying more outdoor exercise is to purchase equipment that will enable you to reach your goals comfortably. These may include a good bike, comfortable and appropriate training shoes, and a wearable gadget that will track your heart rate, VO2 max, training effect, and more.

This information can inspire you to achieve harder goals, and ensure you do not take your training sessions too far.


Gym anxiety occurs when we fear how others will judge our performance. Outdoor and boot camp/group exercises are an excellent way to escape from the confinement of the indoors. For an inspirational push, a personal trainer is ideal. They will help you use weights confidently and help you feel supported at the gym, until it almost starts feeling like your second home.


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