So you’ve made the decision to get in shape. You want to start working out on a regular basis, because you’ve heard enough positive truths about the benefits of exercise to your health and well-being. Maybe you’ve been doing a few exercises at home. You feel good, but you want more. You know you can’t do it all at home. You know you don’t have all the necessary equipment. You need support. You need the type of support you can only get at a gym – surrounded by people like you. Being in the presence of people like you trying to get in shape can be a tremendous support system, but it can unfortunately also bring about some anxiety. It’s known as gym phobia.

Gym Phobia is many things to many people, but it is essentially the fear of going to the gym and working out in front of others. Getting over gym phobia begins by identifying what may cause you to feel overwhelmed when you enter a gym or think about going to the gym. These identifiers can be a number of things, and they will most certainly be different for each individual. It’s up to you to be honest with yourself, and think about what is really hindering your adherence to regular gym visits.

You have nothing to be afraid of, and nothing should get in the way of your becoming the best, healthy version of yourself. Some standard fears that add to gym phobia include embarrassment, fear of working the machines properly, feeling inadequate around more fit individuals, or a simple feeling of “eyes” watching you. It is possible that you may have some bad memories of sports and athletics at a young age that deter you from wanting to exercise in front of others.

Whatever the reason may be, getting over gym phobia begins with a positive outlook. There is hope for you or anyone with these fears. Begin by remembering that everyone at the gym had to start somewhere. They all began as novices learning and training their bodies. If you feel uncomfortable with any machines or exercises, personal trainers are always available to train you or point you in the right direction. You also might be surprised to see the feedback you would get from simply asking others around you who seem to know what they are doing.

Don’t be afraid to sweat. You go to a gym to change your body. Sweat happens. Everyone around you is sweating. Embrace it.Continue your positive outlook by remaining realistic and patient about your progress. If gym phobia haunts you, begin by going to the gym once a week, and then twice a week, and three times a week, and so forth, until you can get into a consistent routine. Nobody expects you to dive in after joining and go 4-5 times per week at the beginning. Just like your progress with your workouts will develop, the progress you make toward overcoming gym phobia will develop and dissipate as your confidence grows. The more you attend, the more faces you will begin to recognize. You can find your support system. You can find people with similar lifestyles and goals.If you can’t afford regular personal trainer sessions, at least begin with an orientation or a one-time meeting to familiarize yourself with the equipment and basic motions of the exercises that meet your goals. This will instill confidence to help you feel more comfortable in the gym setting. Repetition will help you master the machines and motions.

Don’t be afraid to fail. If you drop a weight, do an exercise wrong, or sit on a machine backwards, it won’t be the first time someone has screwed up. Learn from any mistakes and move on. You are doing something worthwhile to change your life, and it mistakes happen, so be it.

Celebrate your progress. Enjoy your time at the gym and celebrate your goals as you reach them. Set mini-goals that can be attained, and once accomplished, be proud. Keep track of how many times you go to the gym, and before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to overcoming any gym phobia that may have ever crept into your mind.

You have all the tools to accomplish your goals. Now get to the gym and get started!