Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

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Gym anxiety and ways to combat it

ia+Solares+%28right%29+and+Isabelle+Bagley+%28left%29+lift+weights+together+at+Dixon+Recreation+Center+located+at+Oregon+State+University+on+Feb.+13.+%0A
Miky Pope, OMN Photographer
ia Solares (right) and Isabelle Bagley (left) lift weights together at Dixon Recreation Center located at Oregon State University on Feb. 13.

Walking into the gym you hear the slam of the dumbbell and you notice all the machines are filled. The familiar rush of anxiety creeps in, but you keep your head held high and find your place. Gym anxiety can be hard to navigate but there is space for you. 

Going to the gym can be a fun, enjoyable place to exercise, however, many people face many hurdles and anxiety-inducing aspects that can feel discouraging. 

“People may experience gym anxiety for a variety of reasons, including fear of the unknown, the fear of being judged by others, body image worries and uncertainty about how to use equipment or engage in exercise,” said Brian Hustoles, the recreational sports associate director at Oregon State University. 

Gym anxiety can lead to people switching up what they would usually do or going at certain times to avoid a big crowd. 

“I would always go (to the gym) late at night or early in the morning, because it felt weird to be around other people,” said Brandon Wied, a third-year mechanical engineering student. “It was very kind of anxiety inducing.”

Wied wanted to stay active, so he got involved in different things, including martial arts. He explained how being in a small class with people who are the same level as you and an instructor who is encouraging, can make the experience easier. 

On top of finding classes that help you stay active, going to the gym with friends or a group can also be beneficial. Hustoles expressed that going with a friend may help reduce anxiety and stress. 

Jenna Price, a third-year student studying nutrition, has grown up very active. She has participated in many different classes, lifting and is now a fitness instructor. Price is also the founder of the OSU chapter of “Changing Health, Attitudes, +  Actions to Recreate Girls,” also known as CHAARGE.

CHAARGE is a workout group that is open to everyone, but is mainly a women’s-based group. They workout together and take classes at various gyms, which Price emphasizes really helps people feel confident while exercising. 

Price spoke on the growth she’s seen members of CHAARGE make, and emphasized it is open to anyone and everyone. 

Price also spoke about how she struggles going into the gym by herself, and has felt intimidated by the fact the gyms tend to be male-dominated, but is working to gain her confidence.

“I think people experience gym anxiety just because of the culture that surrounds who can and cannot go to the gym and workout,” Price said. 

The culture surrounding the gym can be a hard thing to become comfortable with, and it feels different for everyone who attends. 

Recreational Sports at OSU offers a variety of programs to help people become comfortable, including “Find your fit”, which offers free training and advice from peers. Hustoles also emphasized the classes offered at Dixon, that vary based on level and have been shown to help people feel more comfortable in a public setting.

“Throughout Rec Sports programs, students of all skill levels are invited and encouraged to participate at a level that they are most comfortable with,” Hustoles said. 

When you go to the gym, Price emphasized it’s important to remember that everyone is there for the same thing, and they probably do not see you as much as you think they do. Do you! 

“Acting confident and walking in there, which I know can be really scary,” Price said. “But, at the end of the day, everyone is so in their head and thinking about what they are or aren’t doing in the gym, that they’re probably not even paying attention to you.” 

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