How to feel Comfortable and Confident in the Gym

If the thought of going to the gym is making you feel anxious, follow these simple tips to build your confidence as well as your muscles! 

A smiling middle-aged woman working out on an exercise bike in a gym

In association with Hunkemoller

These days, everyone is aware just how important it is to maintain good physical and mental health. So many people are trying out new ways to exercise, from jogging and swimming to yoga and working out in the gym.

But not everyone feels comfortable going to the gym. I know from personal experience that whenever I sign up for a new gym (and there have been a few over the years!), I always feel a bit nervous and uncomfortable for the first few visits. After a while, I start to feel more comfortable and confident, but it takes me a while to get there.

Gym Anxiety

There are lots of reasons why you might feel uncomfortable going to the gym. It might be because you have moved to a new area or experienced changes in your body. Maybe it’s just your first ever visit and you’re not sure quite what to expect there. Fear of the unknown can be quite overwhelming at times. 

If you’re feeling anxious about going to the gym, it might be reassuring to know that you’re not alone. After all, there are over 10 million gym members in the UK and the majority of them are regular people like you, who all have their own anxieties and uncertainties about exercise. 

In fact, research by European lingerie specialists Hunkemoller found that searches relating to “gym confidence” have increased by 1600% year-on-year. That means there are a lot of people out there who share the same anxieties that you do! 

So whether you want to achieve specific goals or you just want to get fit, here are five practical tips to help you feel good doing it.   

Find the right space

If you’re looking for a new gym, there’s a huge range of options from budget chains to high-end exclusive clubs. And if you’re completely new to the gym, the range of choice could feel quite overwhelming. 

It’s worth doing some research to find the right option for you. That’s because there’s a good chance you will feel less anxious if you’re working out in surroundings that you like. For example, Hunkemoller’s research found that 29% of women prefer female-only gyms, and 13% would feel more comfortable working out in a gym which has a women-only space. 

Scout out your options online first, and then phone or email to arrange a visit. Visiting with a friend could help you to feel more relaxed about looking around, and you might be able to sign up for a free day pass to try the facilities out. 

Close up of a woman's feet in brightly coloured trainers on a treadmill.

Wear the right clothing

As with any form of exercise, it’s important to have the right equipment when you’re going to the gym. And while you don’t need all the latest gear when you start, there are some important points to consider when choosing what to wear to the gym. 

First of all, your clothing should be supportive and allow you to move freely. So items like cross trainers, lightweight leggings or shorts and supportive, well-fitting lingerie sets are essential. This will make sure that you feel cool and comfortable and also make sure that your feet and joints are well supported during your workout.

Secondly, you’ll want to feel good wearing it. Hunkemoller found that twice as many women compared to men feel self-conscious in gym clothes, and 15% felt they didn’t look good in gym wear. So take some time to find clothes that you feel comfortable and confident wearing, taking into account your usual style. 

It’s worth investing in items that fit you properly and suit your taste. If your gym clothing fits comfortably and looks good, you’ll probably feel good, making you more confident and motivated.  

Plan your workouts 

If you want to get the most out of your gym membership, it’s important to plan your workouts in advance. Planning your workout routines will save you wasting time deciding what to do when you get there. And you’ll probably feel more confident if you know in advance what today’s workout will involve.

Many gyms offer a free induction session where one of their trainers will show you around the gym. They will be able to set you up with a basic exercise routine and update it every few weeks. If you want to achieve specific goals, you might like to work with a personal trainer who will design a personalised schedule and help you to stay on track.

You might find it helpful to keep a record of what you’re doing each time to. This is a great way to track your progress and stay motivated when your resolve starts to waiver.

A row of colourful kettlebells in a gym

Ask for help 

To workout confidently and effectively, it’s really important to know how to use the equipment properly. But many people feel unsure about how to do certain exercises or use particular pieces of equipment, especially when they first join a new gym. In fact, Hunkemoller discovered that a lack of exercise knowledge is the top reason why women find the gym intimidating. 

But carrying on when you’re unsure will stop you getting the most out of your workout and could even lead to injury. So make sure that you familiarise yourself with a new piece of equipment before you start using it, and ask staff for assistance if you’re not sure what to do.

This will help you to exercise safely and with confidence so that you get the most from your workout.

Don’t compare yourself

If you’re feeling uncomfortable about visiting the gym, it’s really important to try not to compare yourself with the other people who are working out there. Everyone has their own goals and their own anxieties, so you never really know what is going on in someone else’s mind. 

Try to keep your focus on your own goals and results. If you’re feeling nervous about working out with weights, start light and gradually build up from there. If running on the treadmill makes you feel wobbly, start off with a brisk walk or use the rowing machine instead.

And try not to worry if things go wrong. Whether it’s dropping a dumbbell, forgetting your water bottle or your sports bra strap pinging off (yes, that happened to me!), things will go wrong occasionally but they happen to everyone. Just keep going, follow your plan and you will start to see results.

There’s no denying it: exercise is essential for a healthy life. Following these simple tips can help you feel more comfortable and confident when you head off for your next workout.