Concrete jungle where fears are made of…

Exercise class. Image credit: LocalFitness on Wikipedia.

I have gymphobia. What’s that?… I hear you ask. It’s quite simply a fear of the gym. I first came across this word in an issue of Cosmopolitan’s Cosmo Body and it really rang true with me.

I have always imagined the gym to be a place where ripped men flex their muscles and pose on the equipment. If you’ve ever watched the gym scenes in The Only Way Is Essex then you will know what I mean! Plus the idea that people can see me attempting to use equipment and failing freaks me out! If you’ve ever watched the BBC comedy series Miranda and seen her at the gym then you can imagine the epic scenes that may unfold.

Thankfully, things are changing, not just for me, but also in society. Firstly, a campaign called This Girl Can, which was developed by Sport England and a wide range of partnership organisations, was launched earlier this year. It encourages women of all shapes and sizes to exercise. It was started after findings that some women don’t exercise because they have a fear of being judged. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a size 6 or 18, the gym can be a very daunting place and it’s fantastic how empowering this campaign has been.

At the start of the year I made a New Year’s resolution to get fit. I got a pay-as-you-go gym membership and undertook a variety of exercise classes. Whilst I did find some posey types hanging out by the lockers chatting up girls, I found that my expectations were largely wrong. Most of my classes contained older folk who were clearly just at the gym to exercise.

That is not to say that it has been plain sailing. I tried out one class and found the instructor to be patronising and unhelpful. Whilst I was doing my best attempt at a plank the instructor came over to me and shouted, “THAT’S NOT A BLANK, YOUR BUM IS IN THE AIR”.

Rather than helping me to correct the position, the instructor went back to the front of the class. I felt this moment, brief as it was very off-putting and didn’t do anything to change my perception that some people look down at people like me who have no idea what the difference is between a plank and a push-up.

I’m trying not to let this put me off as I realise that there will be some professional personal trainers out there who go above and beyond to help their clients. I would not say that I’ve fully got over my gymphobia, but I have made some progress since the start of the year. It’s just a matter of baby steps and trying to establish a routine.

My top tips for helping to overcome gymphobia:

Get a mate to go with you

If you have a friend with you you will feel more at ease. Plus you have someone to chat with and spur you on!

Stop caring

What I mean by this is stop caring what other people think of you. Go to the gym with no makeup on, workout, get sweaty. Who cares? It’s the gym after all and everybody *should* be there for one reason: to get fit.

Set yourself a goal

You may have a summer holiday booked or a wedding to attend that you want to look your best for. Set yourself a goal – for example – what you want to have achieved by a certain date.

Do you have gymphobia like me? Have you got any tips for overcoming this? Let me know in the comments box below…

For more information on This Girl Can go to


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