Banish Your Gym Anxiety - PCOS Diva
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Banish Your Gym Anxiety

Guest post by Erika Volk

At the beginning of my training career, I gave a teenage boy a “new member tour” of my gym. After the tour, his mother came to pick him up and I casually asked her if she’d like to join along with her son. She broke down into tears and told me she was too ashamed of how overweight she was to ever join a gym.

This absolutely crushed me! She had bought into the lie that gyms are for fit, super-human people clad in spandex. Wrong! You and I belong at the gym just as much as any model from a fitness infomercial.

In fact, if you’re interested in self-improvement and could use some positive energy, head to a fitness facility! Many of the most supportive and positive people I know are friends from the gym.

Today I am going to give you some simple ways to minimize gym anxiety so that you can make the most of your gym community.

Unfamiliar Territory

Walking into an unfamiliar place is intimidating. Especially if you are there to do something you’ve never done before like strength train or take a yoga class.

Are you considering joining a gym? Or are you unfamiliar with your current gym? Ask for a tour! As a former gym employee, I can tell you that we enjoy giving tours to our members. It gives us a pleasant, sociable break from our typical workday routine.

Schedule a tour and come prepared with specific questions. For example, you can ask about the dress code, when the gym is most crowded and if they offer childcare.

If you’re planning on doing a specific routine, bring it with you and ask your guide to point out all of the required equipment.


Fitting In

Simply knowing the layout of your gym and its dress code may not be enough to make you feel at ease in the weight room. If social anxiety keeps you away from the gym, try these simple steps to help you feel more at ease.

Shop for the right gym. Most gyms offer week-long passes so you can try the facility commitment free. Take advantage of this opportunity to find an environment you feel comfortable with. Don’t limit your search to big corporate gyms, try small local weight rooms, specialty studios, and outdoor classes.

Make friends with the staff. Learn the names of a couple staff members and take an interest in them. “Hi, Kim, how are you?” can brighten the day of an overworked front desk clerk and it gives you the chance to plant some roots. My grandpa is so friendly with the staff at his gym that when I can’t reach him on his cell, I call the gym and ask if they’ve seen him!

A few friendly faces can also keep you motivated. You may not want to go to a spin class, but you might want to catch up with your spin instructor enough to drag your butt into the studio.

Dress the part. Wearing last night’s pajamas to the gym might be efficient, but it will not help you put your best foot forward. Treat yourself to just two or three nice looking workout ensembles. It does not matter if you buy them from a discount store, like Target, or a high-end retailer, like Lululemon. The point is that you feel presentable, put together and comfortable.

Please don’t wait until you’re at your “goal weight” to buy proper gym clothes. You deserve to feel good about your appearance no matter what size you are!

Not Knowing What To Do

Many people feel perfectly comfortable as they enter their local fitness facility, but panic when it comes time to actually workout. Going to the gym without a plan is not only stressful – it wastes time!

The good news is that there are plenty of fantastic exercise programs (  in the world just waiting for you to use them! Buy a book, follow a few fitness blogs or hire a trainer to design a program for you.

Looking for a plan to get you started? You can get my Do-It-Yourself Strength Training Guide by clicking here. (

Having a plan before you set foot in the gym will minimize your anxiety and maximize your efforts.


Skip the Gym

I love gyms and I think that most people can find a great local facility that will support them as they work toward their goals. However, you do not need a gym to exercise!

Due to my travel schedule, I have not worked out in a gym for over a year. I workout in my backyard with the help of a few key pieces of equipment. There are plenty of gym-free exercise programs that can help women living with PCOS stay strong, lean and healthy. No matter what the reason, if you can’t get to a fitness center, you can still workout!

Beginning an exercise program should be inspiring and challenging, but never anxiety ridden. Do not let gym intimidation get in the way of you enjoying the health and self-esteem boosting benefits of exercise. Practice good self-care by starting an exercise program today!


Erika Volk is The PCOS Personal Trainer. She holds certifications from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), TRX Suspension Training Systems, Precision Nutrition and is the creator of the PCOS Fit Workout Programs for Women with PCOS. Erika believes that living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to manage PCOS. If you want to learn more about how exercise can help you get control of your PCOS symptoms, visit her website at

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