Do you suffer from Gymtimidation?

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Feeling self-conscious at the gym is getting in the way of your fitness goals. This is how to deal. 

Photo: iStock

If you feel bad about how you look and feel in your activewear, you’re not alone. But the problem many of us face is instead of just going to the gym and getting those feel-good hormones flowing, we avoid it. But then, we feel worse and become stuck in a cycle – and no, I’m not talking about a cycle of the “spin” kind.

I’m talking about “gymtimidation”. Gymtimidation is very real – regardless of how you look. We’ve all been there. But it comes in waves and in many different shapes and forms.

So, what exactly is it?

Gymtimidation is that uncomfortable feeling walking into a gym – or those locker rooms that feel like a scene in a teen movie (that stars just us) and bring back memories of the corridor halls, cliques and gossiping that surrounded us at school.

It’s feeling self-conscious because you’re wearing an old tattered t-shirt and not the latest gear, it’s watching the Instafit crew flexing and taking selfies – and feeling somewhat let down by the skin you’re in.

Gymtimidation is real and if you don’t comfortably fit within a gym’s sub-culture – not your culture, not your vibe or not your thing – chances are you may not exercise and you’re stuck in the “spin” I spoke about earlier. This means there’s a lot of people out there missing out on all of the incredible benefits of exercise.

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But gymtimidation is something we can avoid. Of course, it could be as simple as finding a gym that you feel comfortable at, or if you’ve tried and tried (like I did, for many years and to no avail) I would recommend these alternatives. No point staring down at THAT machine, to afraid to get on again, right?


Hit the pavement for a solo run. You can do it anytime, anywhere and you’re guaranteed to get all those happy feel-good hormones flowing almost immediately. It’s a quick way to boost your mood and your self-esteem.

Many mornings I hit the ground running, solo. I get up in the dark, dress in the dark and hit the beach in the dark. It’s my hour out of life to breathe. Suddenly I’m not a business woman, a wife or a mother of three. There’s no drama, no anxiety, no music blasting. It’s time for me, and a bonus? I can wear the t-shirt I slept in adorned with half my daughter’s dinner on it. Win.

Stream your workouts from home, a park or anywhere

Now you can pick your favourite type of training – do you like HIIT workouts, bodyweight, dumbbells, barre, meditation, stretching & mobility? – and you can stream your workouts from anywhere.

VARLAH lets you stream a variety of programs and workouts and all you need is an internet-enabled device. You can do your workouts from a park, your living room, or even a hotel room if you’re like us and travel for work or just like to travel. The best part is you get your very own PT in your pocket without the premium price tag, which is why I created this service. Of course, there are a range of streaming services – and you don’t have to look very far to find online workout programs.

Try something different, push yourself and even if you’re an uncoordinated mess? Chances are you’re at home – and that gets rid of someone seeing you, anyway.

RELATED: “I lost 5kgs in 6 weeks by streaming workouts at home”

Get on your bike

Here’s a practical one. You can combine fitness with your daily commute and cycle to and from work. It’s incidental exercise – and it’s totally free.

These training options let you focus on you and your progress so you can sweat while you train – instead of sweat from Gymtimidation. There’s no more excuse to stay in your vicious cycle! Stream a workout from home, download an app, write your own workouts, hit the beach solo or find an exercise that you love doing. Whatever you do, just keep moving.

Lexy Meyerson is a mum of three kids (6 years and under) and the co-founder of Australia’s leading on-demand fitness streaming service, VARLAH.

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fitness | body+soul

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