How to Overcome “Gymtimidation”

By Ashley Harland – April 12, 2023

Getting back into a fitness routine is an ever-evolving goal that comes and goes for many; everyone wants to be the hottest, healthiest and happiest version of themselves. You can practically feel the excitement, growth and opportunity in the air as you’re getting pumped up to work out… until it comes down to actually going to the gym.

Whether it be part of your New Year’s resolution or simply something new you’re trying out this year, going to the gym can be an intimidating experience for many. In fact, a study conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Isopure surveyed 2,000 Americans and found that as many as 50% feels intimidated by the thought of working out at a gym, and 31% feel anxious when thinking about trying to get into shape. 

Going to the gym for the first time, or after a long break, makes you feel like everyone is staring at you, judging you, just knowing that you’re a beginner or are rusty. Trust me, I’ve been there. Throughout the years of working out, I’ve found a couple of tricks that helped me conquer my gym intimidation and make me feel confident and comfortable in my fitness journey!

1. Remind yourself that you DESERVE to take up space

Before you even get your gym bag together, put your sneakers on, tie back your hair or take pre-workout, take a moment to have a mindset shift. Remind yourself that you are equally as deserving to use the space, equipment and amenities in the gym as everyone else. Whether you’re a newbie or a regular gym go-er, we all are there for the same reasons — to get fit. 

Man using treadmills.

You deserve to use whatever equipment you want. You even deserve to use multiple pieces of equipment at a time. You don’t have to look a certain way in order to take up space. Even the “big bro” lifters and marathon runners started from zero. Accept yourself for where you’re at now, and give yourself permission to learn!

2. Walk in with a plan

The worst feeling is when you want to get a good workout in but you’re not actually sure what to do. I remember wandering around the gym for 45 minutes because I was too overwhelmed with all of the equipment and didn’t even know where to start. 

So, go in with a plan! Write down the body part you want to work out, the exercises involved and what equipment you’ll need for them. This will help you stay focused, prevent you from wandering around aimlessly and decrease anxiety. 

You can purchase pre-made programs from a personal trainer (just make sure they’re reputable and certified), download a fitness app or watch a YouTube video, TikTok or Instagram reel to find workouts based on the body part you wish to train.

3. Bring your headphones

Music is a major part of working out. In fact, Critical Mix polled 1,000 Americans in 2014 and found that if they didn’t have their headphones, 66% of people would cut their workout short and 40% would ditch their workout completely. 

Whether you listen to music, an audiobook or a podcast, having something to listen to will help distract you from the array of noises, ward off those anxious thoughts and prevent you from feeling self-conscious. 

4. Wear clothes you feel comfortable in

To feel confident in the gym, you need to wear clothes you feel comfortable and self-assured in! If you’re constantly fidgeting and adjusting your clothes, it can be extremely distracting. You know that sports bra that’s so tight you can’t even breathe or that t-shirt that’s so baggy it completely drowns you and makes you look like a blob? Yeah, it’s time to clean out the closet and get rid of those. Feeling comfortable in your outfit will help you feel more motivated to go to the gym and is one less thing to worry about once you’re there. 

Woman exercising at gym.


Women often get a bad rap for wanting to look good; simple things like wearing makeup or brightly colored clothing is frowned upon because it “draws attention.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up with the idea that being sexy and confident is a bad thing! I believe that the way you dress has a huge impact on how you feel about yourself, and you deserve to feel amazing. Whether putting on makeup, styling your hair or wearing a matching workout set makes you feel confident, go for it! That boost of confidence will give you that extra oomph to have an amazing session.

6. Don’t go during peak hours

If you can try to avoid peak times at the gym (which typically fall between the hours of 8 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.), I would highly recommend putting in the extra effort to do so. It’s like walking into a zoo of sweaty strangers… which is, uh, super intimidating. Not to mention the agony of having to wait around for a certain piece of equipment, or even worse, having to change your entire workout plan because everything is taken. No, thanks!

At the end of the day, you deserve to look and feel amazing. Congratulate yourself on putting yourself out there and trying something new! It’s not always easy but it is worth it.

About the Author

Ashley Harland is a Tampa-based weight loss specialist, certified nutrition coach and personal trainer. She runs a 12-week group coaching program, Bangin’ Body Blueprint, to help women lose weight, build confidence and heal their relationship with food. Harland’s mission is to prove that, with the right support and strategy, achieving your health and fitness goals can be fun and easy!


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