No announcement yet.

Gym with social anxiety

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Gym with social anxiety

    Hi everyone I wanted to ask if anyone has an experience similar to mine, and if so - how you guys deal with it?
    I suffer from social anxiety & ASD that can get quit debilitating, and one of the things that I struggle with is going to the gym. Of course there are lots of people in the gym, and I find myself getting embarrassed to do anything due to that. It feels like all the other gym-goers watching me and judging my posture or how I use equipment. I'm a not a fit person, and also very awkward and slower, which makes me feel like a fish out of water in the gym. But I do want to get fit and strong. I run, roller skate and exercise at home, but also want to do more than that.
    When my cousin is in town I usually go to the gym with her, she's amazing and I don't feel awkward when accompanied by a muscled woman who knows how to use EVERYTHING in there. Sadly I don't have anyone else in my circle that's willing to go with me, or is available more often.
    SO I wanted to ask for the advice of people out there, if anyone deals with the same level of social anxiety (or any at all really), how you deal with judgmental people or weird looks? Or alternatively how do you get that "I don't care" attitude in the gym?
    I'd love to hear your advices <3

    Hello and welcome to the Hive.I exercise at home and I like it ,as you said there is none watching me or waiting for me to finish the exercises with the dumbbells etc.
    I can say that for example you can buy Adjustable dumbbells or 1-2 kettlebells (or just use the database of bodyweight workouts of DAREBEE) and exercise at home with good results
    But if you like going to the gym, you can do it,I do not thing that others will watch and judge you, they are there just to do workouts.
    Just thing positive.
    Here I live, there is a park that people can run, also there is some equipment so people can exercise, is there any park like this?
    Also you can discuss your problem with a psychologist, so to solve it.


      Damer I think there is some shaming going on here.

      LynnGin Hi so I don't have crippling social anxiety but I do get nervous around people. I remember I got lucky and my family went to the gym with me but it was mum and granny so I was in the weight room alone. I kept feeling judged and it took me going back almost daily for a few weeks to feel comfortable. I remember my brother was at MMA and I had to move gyms and I moved to a old school gym (all the stuff was like steel and iron and no colour or heating) and there I felt like I was at a better place [for my goal at that time] but the "IDGAF" mentality just came with time. Now I go to a Martial arts gym and workout fighting boys and girls (that was a learning curve).

      My best advice is only go when your cuz is around but set it up that you can do it regularly. Sorry that's all I got.


        Heyo! Welcome to the hive! I too suffer from anxiety and used to go to the gym, mostly alone or with a friend. Right now I workout at home because that's most comfortable for me and I bought a set of adjustable dumbbells like a week ago.

        Being alone in the gym felt bit overwhelming and there was too much noise, also felt like I was getting in the way of dudebros trying to flex in front of a mirror when I was using dumbbells, it just wasn't my comfort zone. I felt good at the machines tho, because everybody minds their own business. I started to feel more confident after results started showing and even few new people asked me to show them how some machines work. Stopped going to gym because it was too far and I didn't have enough time.

        Keep exercising and take care


          Hello, LynnGin Welcome to the Hive! I fully understand where you're coming from. You don't want to try to do anything because you just know that you're going to get it wrong and everyone else knows how to do that perfectly and is judging you. ASD is a bitch. I don't go to a gym but I do go to other training, so I know what it's like to do things in "public". It's really hard, but one of the first things you might look at doing is find someone who looks approachable, go up to them (I know, that is so hard!) and compliment them on their form. Once you've done that (and they've reacted positively), it can be easier to ask them to show you how to do it. Or to ask for recommendations on what you can/should do. Try to do this during a fairly quiet time. Another thing you could try is identify some equipment that you'd like to use and study up on it on YouTube, or get your cousin to drill you on one or two things. Then when you go to the gym, you know there is at least one thing you can do that you're fairly confident you can do competently. Remember also that slow reps can be extremely beneficial, so if you're doing something slowly because you can't do it fast (not that you need to!), make it look as though you are doing it slowly deliberately because this is a Good Thing! Maybe count, moving your lips so that if someone is looking (and really, it's not very likely), then they think, hey wow, that person's counting slow reps - I must give that a go!


            LynnGin welcome to The Hive. First of all please let me apologize for the unacceptable behavior of one of our newer members. That person is now banned from The Hive and the ban is permanent. This is an action we rarely have to engage in. Given my very recent post however I felt it was such a poor exercise of judgement in that person's response that The Hive is no longer a place for them.

            Now, to get to your question which, unfortunately is more common and complex than most people would have you believe. Gyms are a paradox and maybe even an anomaly. They are the places where we go to in order to get fit but the moment we get there we do what human beings are, unfortunately, hardwired to do: we give in to the impulse to group together and judge others. So you get, in some gyms, those who are there to validate their life choices and enhance their sense of self at the detriment of others. It is so crazy at times that I actually had people turn up and ask me how do they get fit for the gym!!!

            To better understand why the question you pose is so complex and, at the same time, so brilliant consider that our identity, complex as it may be, on the surface of it has three primary components which I illustrate with the picture below:

            In psychology there is such thing as "The Audience Effect" which shows that our behavior changes when we feel we are being watched. The diagram above shows there is a dynamic relationship between these three components which affects how we think of our self.

            So, how do we fix it? Primarily it is a confidence thing (and this is not easy to address). In order for us to feel good about our self we need to have a sense of our own value and self worth. And we need to have a clear understanding of our own goals. When it comes to fitness we all start from the same place: zero. Despite that it appears we easily forget it and then find it easy to judge those who are at the beginning of their own fitness journey. When that happens this is a projection of our own insecurities. Insecurity makes us feel vulnerable and vulnerability makes us feel weak so we project whatever it is we feel we need to project in order to hide that insecurity and bypass the feelings of weakness and vulnerability it generates.

            Those who you feel may watch and judge you instead of rooting for you are weaker than they appear and afraid it'd be discovered.

            To build your own confidence you need to better understand the motivation and actions of others and also clarify your own. You can, as suggested here already, do some training at home and work on, when at the gym, on things you already know. You said when your cousin is with you, you feel way more comfortable. That's because you know she instantly will have your back plus, I guess, she probably intimidates those around her with her presence, especially when they happen to have insecurities of their own. Try doing the things you would do if she had been there. Otherwise work with the equipment you know how to use already.

            Play mindgames. When I am tired in the gym I lose myself in a roleplay where the equipment I use represent actions to save my life in a life-or-death battle It absorbs me, takes my mind off the fatigue I experience and leaves no room to think of others. To help me I use soundtracks from Skyrim or Game of Thrones in my earphones. This is just something that works for me. You need to experiment to see what can work for you.

            Also, whenever you feel like it you can just pop in here and chronicle your progress and struggles. This helps others who see it and we are here to root for you. The Hive is an amazing place with amazing people and this blip of your first experience notwithstanding, we all know that getting fit and healthy is hard, we all need help and support and acceptance and at some point we will all stumble and need help to get back on track.

            I really hope this has helped a little. Don't hesitate to ask me any further questions.


              There are great answers above. If I can add something it is to find something that no one else is doing and do that. When I was going to the gym consistently I was doing all kinds of weird things - bear crawls, juggling, weight vests. By definition, because you are the only person doing it, you therefore have to be the best at it. The end result was typically that people would come up to me and ask what it was that I was doing, which is an excellent form of validation. Don't be afraid to take chances and do what you like, the only judge of your behaviour should be yourself after all.


                Thanks everyone for the kind responses there were a lot of things presented I didn't even think about... I'll definitely try


                  Hello, and welcome.

                  I'm a very big into gymming, and may even qualify as a gym bro, so I thought I'd add an answer.

                  At the end of the day, nobody really cares that you may be less experienced, or just starting your gym journey. If I see someone who is overweight or out of shape, my first thought is that it takes courage for them to be there. The gym should not be a place for shaming or comparison. I know it's easy to do, but most gyms do not exist as some discriminating fitness establishment. It's about *you*, and why you're there.

                  I've been at gyms where I've been the biggest guy, and gyms where I was the smallest. I make it a rule to never call out anyone else, unless they are potentially injuring themselves. Those big muscly guys? They're more intent on their workout than on intimidating you. As Alan Thrall said, the gym is, for us, "me time". Time to get away from the world and get some lifting done. Heck, I've even made conversation with some big buff guys, and more often than not, they're polite and helpful.

                  I assure you that the gym is just... well, a place full of tools.

                  But in any event, no matter how you choose to be fit, I wish you luck moving forward.