Have you always been scared of the gym? You walk up to the door of the fitness centre and can feel your heart rate increasing already, your breathing is getting faster. You grab the door handle and notice your hands are a bit sweaty and a little shaky too. Your stomach feels a little queasy all of a sudden. The gym has always had this effect on you, so your workouts are short and rushed so you can get out. You can’t put your finger on what it is, but going to the gym makes you feel uneasy, scared even. Because of this, your best made plans always fall away because you don’t like going.

Does this sound like you?

How about this one?

You rock up to the theme park and get in line for the latest thrill ride. It has a huge first drop, then straight into a triple corkscrew. You are so excited, you can barely contain yourself. Your breathing is fast, heart rate is elevated. You feel a bit shaky and your partner won’t hold your hand because it’s sweaty. Your stomach is feeling a little funny now, maybe that double choc thick-shake was a bad idea!

Hang on……aren’t they all the same responses you got when you went to the gym? Well, Quite simply, yes!


What’s going on here?

Arousal is arousal. When you get scared the brain releases adrenaline and cortisol which creates all of the above mentioned physiological responses. Essentially it’s getting the body ready to move and react, in whatever way that may be. You may know it as the fight or flight response. When you get excited, the exact same process happens. The adrenaline that flows through your body from fear is the same adrenaline that flows through your body when you are excited.

So how come some things we choose to view as fear, and others as excitement? Ultimately it comes down to our mindset and how we choose to interpret the stimulus. Maybe it has to do with past experiences that can drive particular negative or positive associations and can therefore make an experience either an exciting one, or one that holds great fear.

So next time you walk into your gym and get these feelings of fear, take a moment to think about them, about why you’re feeling them what they actually mean and then move on. Could it be that you aren’t scared of the gym, that you are actually very excited about the change you are about to make and the positive impact this will have on you?

My advice to you if you do actually feel you are scared of the gym, is to look around. Not all gyms are made equal. Find somewhere that suits you and suits what you want and need. Secondly, learn to breath! Practice deep, even and controlled breathing through your diaphragm. This breathing can help to get your body back to a ‘normal’ state faster and in turn will lower your emotional arousal levels and be more in control of any situation.

Finally, find an exercise coach that you resonate with so that they can help create a positive atmosphere for you in your journey to a better and healthier self.

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