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“When it comes to exercise and fitness, these phrases mean a whole lot more than some trending hashtags.”

“Gymtimidation is when someone is very insecure about themselves and they feel threatened by others in the gym who are in good physical condition.”

Well, that’s the (rather curt) explanation according to the Urban Dictionary!

But in the day to day lives of millions of people around the world, it’s not just about being insecure! It’s a genuine worry, fear or anxiety that actually stops people from starting exercise (not just the gym) or can be the leading cause of why people start but stop very easily.

I’ve always loved exercising, since my school days swimming with my Dad, or losing really badly against my brother at badminton. It’s always been part of my life, my upbringing, my career over the past 17 years, so you could say it’s in my DNA.

My long suffering husband, however, would prefer the idea of a spot of metal detecting and calming painting than jumping around to pumping music and waiving a kettlebell around. For him, even though he would like to feel fitter, he is put off even starting by what he calls “just being shouted at”

You know, you’re in a spin class and it’s about to get a bit more intense hill climbing so the instructor ramps up the music, turns down the lights, gets her butt off the seat and pedals furiously whilst screaming out commands like “come on everyone, keep pedaling, faster, don’t let give up.”

Well for Ed, that’s being shouted at. He hates it and that’s his gymtimidation. So it rules out spin class, most group cardio exercise full stop, bootcamp, and even playing football with those hot headed footie blokes that get riled up if you miss a shot at goal.

When it comes to exercise and fitness, there are many legitimate reasons why people have gymtimidation.
Speaking to the followers of the Facebook community group, Your Body Rocks, here’s some examples:

“I really want to do weight training but as a woman, I am put off by the big beefcake men in the weights section at the gym.”

“I’m so bored at seeing fitness companies promoting six packs, for most of us its unachievable and it puts me off going to that fitness place.”

“I worry about getting older and if I will be doing it (exercise) right or if my joints will hold out.”

“I’ve been told I need to do Pilates for my back, but as a man I am worried that it will be all women,

Are you ‘gymtimidated’ by exercise? Check out Michelle’s video below

Turn gymtimidation into gymspiration

There are lots of reasons why people may be intimidated to exercise, but what about the things that inspire you to exercise or to keep going?  #gymspiration

Top tips for getting over the gymtimidation and start exercising regularly

1. Do what makes YOU happy. Remember you are an individual. If you don’t like running, why force yourself to go running? If the gym makes you feel bad about yourself, and you don’t like being in that environment, why go to the gym? You won’t stick at it! If you like dancing around your room, that’s exercising, you’re moving your body!

2. Make it a habit. Doing something regularly and consistently will help to make exercise a habit. But doing it attached to another habit will make it stick stronger! For example, do your squats whilst you are waiting for the coffee to brew, or some barre exercises at the bathroom sink whilst you are cleaning your teeth, go to Pilates every Monday as the first day back at work or dropping off the kids at school and going straight for a run afterwards. (Tip courtesy of Dr Chatterjee)

3. Do whatever you do but do it MORE at the beginning. Doing something more than nothing is 100% better, but once a week is really for maintenance. To make exercise and movement ingrained in you and make it stick, do it more than once a week at the beginning especially. Your mind and your body need the extra help to make it a habit.

4. Find your tribe. You will be more inspired to stick at exercise (or to even start), if you can find the venue, instructors and type of exercise that make you feel like you fit there. If you’re are a baggy t-shirt and leggings type of person and you feel uncomfortable around Lulu Lemon crop top teachers and that isn’t your bag, then don’t go there. Where and who you exercise with has to make you feel good about yourself.

5. Just move! Exercise isn’t just about the gym, it isn’t about having to use big pieces of apparatus, or needing to train for a 10k. It’s just about moving your body. Remember to attach your mental wellbeing to your exercise. Don’t exercise because social media tells you hot yoga is the thing you should be doing, or your Fit Bit says you’ve got to do more steps, or because you need that social media photo of a workout. Exercise for you and for the way it makes you feel or benefits you.

I’m off to check if ‘gymspiration’ is in the Urban Dictionary.

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