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Gyms are opening up again, which is great news for those who are feeling cooped up or don’t have lots of equipment at home. Many people enjoy going to the gym precisely because working out with other people gives them a boost of motivation, but that’s not the case for others. Psychologist Rachel Goldman emphasises that gym anxiety is a very real thing, and unfortunately gets in the way of many people’s fitness goals.

Exercise allows you to keep both your mind and body in shape, and going to the gym needn’t be a scary experience. The key is to take stock of what you can control and build your confidence gradually. Keep reading below for a few ways to do just that.

Actively work to manage your thoughts

According to Goldman, conquering your thoughts is the first and most important step. Whenever an anxious thought comes up, you have to actively stop yourself from believing it. Rather than thinking that everyone’s staring at you, keep reminding yourself that people are too busy focusing on what they’re doing. This isn’t a miracle cure, and it will likely take a while before you start changing your mindset. That said, such awareness will help make these gym visits more bearable, and before you know it, you’ll be able to head to the gym without being worried. After all, when you’re focused on working out, how much attention do you really pay other people in the gym?

Get the right nutrition

It’s true what people say, you really are what you eat. Practising proper nutrition before and after an exercise can help you feel alert and strong rather than sluggish. You will also see faster gains, which will only increase your confidence. One great way to get your nutrition on track before working out is to see where you can make healthier swaps in your regular diet. It may be a simple swap or making a few meal preps, but knowing that you are taking healthier steps at home will help you have the confidence to take bigger steps in the gym. Making these mindful swaps mentally prepares you by giving you the motivation that you are doing everything you can to become a better person.

Wear the right gear

Although you can’t always control what other people think of you, you can definitely control how you feel about your appearance. If you want to feel great about yourself when you head to the gym, reach for clothes that make you feel your absolute best.

Ask for help

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with anxiety when it feels like it’s you against everyone else. To help bypass this, ask for help from a trainer or member of staff. Having a trainer guide you through a quick routine can make you feel less like a fish out of water. If you aren’t as familiar with the equipment, asking for help can also give you the confidence to work out without the fear of looking silly or injuring yourself. Of course, it’s also just nice to have a friendly face you can chat with to make the gym feel a bit more welcoming.