After having sweated solo to video workouts during the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have started heading back to group fitness classes.
These can be a joy for some, but a nightmare for anyone suffering from "gymtimidation", or the fear of being judged at the gym.
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with these uncomfortable feelings, and to stay in shape without fearing mockery or judgment from others.
A contraction of "gym" and "intimidation", "gymtimidation" describes the fear some people have of being judged, stared at or mocked at the gym.
More precisely, it could be the fear of not knowing how to use this or that piece of equipment, of not feeling physically up to it, of not having the same kind of body as other gym members, of not being able to do the exercises correctly, or even of being ogled at by other gym users.
These are all reasons why some people, all over the world, give up on working out.
British and American studies have shown that "gymtimidation" is far from being a niche phenomenon.
In the United Kingdom, a study conducted by gym chain PureGym reports that nearly two in five gym users (39%) have already considered cancelling their membership due to a lack of confidence felt during a gym session.
The same is true in the United States, where a survey carried out by OnePoll for Isopure reveals that one in two Americans feels intimidated by the idea of working out at the gym.
These figures are significant, and have led some people to find ways of working out without fearing the gaze of others.
To confront their "gymtimidation", many men, and even more women, have gotten creative in finding ways to help people work out with no feelings of embarrassment.
This first involved posting workout-themed videos on social networks, giving users the opportunity to regain their self-confidence.
The idea is to learn how to master the equipment and workout sessions privately, in order to be able to do it with confidence in public.
The internet also offers a way for shy individuals to get their fitness fix alone.
These videos are flourishing on TikTok via the #ShyGirlWorkout hashtag, which already has nearly 350 million views.
The many videos posted with this hashtag reveal a plethora of exercises that require little or no equipment, and are easy to do at home without fear of being judged or making a wrong move.
But it doesn't stop there.
Fitness coaches also share advice to help their followers feel better about themselves, and even to prepare them for future group classes with simple tips on clothing, self-confidence, and even a detailed run-down of what happens in a class.
Working out alone in front of your screen is already a good thing, but it's also possible to get used to dealing with the gaze of others more easily, thanks to some simple tricks.
What if you encouraged a friend to join you at the gym?
Working out with a buddy can take away some or all of the discomfort you may feel when you're alone, while also letting you share the moment and have fun while staying in shape.
If that's not enough, try attending sessions outside of peak hours (if possible), or swap group classes for running sessions, for example. – AFP Relaxnews