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  1. #1
    Registered User DjChaotix's Avatar
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    The gym and social anxiety

    This may sound extremely silly, but going to the gym with hardcore social anxiety is tough. Being in a place that feels extremely judgemental is an absolute nightmare for me. I always feel like someone's laughing behind my back at how much I can lift cause I'm fairly new. Or that my form is off.

    I used to workout at home due to all this but you just can't get the same workout. So I've been going to the gym regardless - I don't want a ****ty body. I've realized the gym is the worst place for someone with social anxiety though.

    Anybody else struggle with this? Probably not... Haha
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  2. #2
    Year 2 Gains Soon2bLegend's Avatar
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    Just wear headphones and sunglasses and keep the hood of your hoodie on, no one will know who you are, and you won't see anyone judging you.
    Step 1: Lay the foundation.
    Step 2: Spend the rest of your life
    building your masterpiece.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Plato234's Avatar
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    No one cares about you. You are not the center of attention.
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  4. #4
    Registered User Hammerhagen's Avatar
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    Put your head down and work hard. Most of this is always just in our heads. You will do great if you get into a consistent habit of training and diet. Go for it!
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  5. #5
    Registered User vincentmars's Avatar
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    I can understand your anxiety. so do i for some times. but just try to ignore it, the more you pay attention to other's thoughts, the more you will feel anxiety.
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  6. #6
    Registered User PBLift84's Avatar
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    Was real nervous going into a gym to lift first time fit these reasons- the "cripp" in with the football team and jocks during lifting class. Joy...

    After a week or two, I realized the supportive/neutral/teardown ratio from others was 90/9/1. Just stopped worrying about it after that.
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  7. #7
    Registered User JimmyJonny's Avatar
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    I just joined another gym recently and felt pretty out of place too. What helps me is meeting other people that lift at the same time. Even if it's just a "hello" or "great form on them squats". As long as I'm not a total stranger I feel 100% better.
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  8. #8
    mANTIQUE RustyPipes's Avatar
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    Most of the hardcore lifters are too focused on their own routines to really pay attention to their surroundings - including people. Anyone who would be "making fun" of you isn't concentrating enough on their own workout, and probably aren't in it for the long haul anyway. They aren't worth your time.
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  9. #9
    bulking SteveWright1's Avatar
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    a degree of Self consciousness is probably pretty normal
    nobody cares what you do, unless your working on your compilation fail vids, in which case people will be laughing at you behind your back and to your face LOL ?

    if that happens you have 2 options
    Option 1 - feel intimidated and stop going
    Option 2 - phuck em, you paid your money and as long as your not troubling anyone else, keep at it

    my preference was option 2
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  10. #10
    The Flanimal project Flounderbout's Avatar
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    In order to ascertain the answer to the question "is anyone paying me the slightest bit of attention?", you first need to ask yourself the question "am I a hot chick?".

    If the answer is "yes", then I am afraid that everyone is paying you all the attention. So much so that it is really quite inappropriate and tedious. Though on the up side, you are a hot chick, so you can probably afford to be less anxious in a social context.

    If on the other hand the answer is "no", then I am afraid no-one is paying you the slightest bit of attention, and nor will they, ever.
    ☻/
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  11. #11
    stretching blows boathead's Avatar
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    i'm a diagnosed agoraphobe, with general anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder. as well as depression, trichotillomania, adult ADD, ocd, and alcoholism. DSM 5th edition has my name all over it.

    i put my earphones on, put my hoodie up, and go about my business. the ONLY thing that keeps me out of the mental health unit is my time under the bar.

    good luck my friend. truly noone cares what you are doing. somehow, you need to learn that in your core, and the only way to do that is some immersion therapy in the gym!
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  12. #12
    Broken French Girl mcbourque's Avatar
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    If you can, go at down times. Early in the morning. 1-3pm, late at night. Worst time is 4-6:30 pm right after school/work.
    ** Marie **
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  13. #13
    Tu papi Jasonk282's Avatar
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    They're not doing this to you at all.
    Union ironworker, USMC vet, muay thai, kyokushin kartae, judoka
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  14. #14
    Banned Iceman1800's Avatar
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    Did you drive today? Tell me about 5 of the cars you drove next to during the drive. Betcha can't because even tho you knew they were there, you really didn't pay attention to them. The gym is the same way. People are focusing on their own training. If you happen to make eye contact, it's only because they're looking around the gym just like you are.
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  15. #15
    Registered User jjchen330ci's Avatar
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    People in the gym do judge other people, but not to laugh at them. it is to take note who is really serious and get them respect or help them if needed.

    I have more respect to overweight kids trying hard with 95lbs than those jackass knee bending 3 plates squat and think they are the alpha....
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  16. #16
    Registered User scullin's Avatar
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    Unless your gym is filled with a bunch of HS kids, it's all in your head. srs

    I've been training for about 30 years and 99% of the time don't even look at other people unless I know them and am working in with them or something. Or if someone is doing something completely insane like jogging on a treadmill in dress shoes, slacks, and a tie (I've actually seen this before).
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  17. #17
    Humble Megalomaniac ElrondHubbard's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Flounderbout View Post
    In order to ascertain the answer to the question "is anyone paying me the slightest bit of attention?", you first need to ask yourself the question "am I a hot chick?".

    If the answer is "yes", then I am afraid that everyone is paying you all the attention. So much so that it is really quite inappropriate and tedious. Though on the up side, you are a hot chick, so you can probably afford to be less anxious in a social context.

    If on the other hand the answer is "no", then I am afraid no-one is paying you the slightest bit of attention, and nor will they, ever.
    That's the secret, though. Always go to a gym that's full of hot chicks, and unless you're one of them, no one will even know you're there.
    I'm out, standing in my field.

    64 and still a newbie.
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  18. #18
    HIT IT HARDER Watsonm5's Avatar
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    I would just focus on yourself 100%. Nothing else matters except you. Everyone has to start somewhere. Besides ... who cares what they think. Not worth worrying over it. Go build your body!
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  19. #19
    Registered User le0p's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by DjChaotix View Post
    This may sound extremely silly, but going to the gym with hardcore social anxiety is tough. Being in a place that feels extremely judgemental is an absolute nightmare for me. I always feel like someone's laughing behind my back at how much I can lift cause I'm fairly new. Or that my form is off.

    I used to workout at home due to all this but you just can't get the same workout. So I've been going to the gym regardless - I don't want a ****ty body. I've realized the gym is the worst place for someone with social anxiety though.

    Anybody else struggle with this? Probably not... Haha
    Yeah, I hear ya. I have extremely bad social anxiety as well as general anxiety. The only that gets me through it is going in with a plan and staying focused. Otherwise, my mind wanders and my anxiety goes crazy. Good luck man, it takes time to get used to some things more than others, just try and find what helps you get through it and do that.
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  20. #20
    Registered User sy2502's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ElrondHubbard View Post
    That's the secret, though. Always go to a gym that's full of hot chicks, and unless you're one of them, no one will even know you're there.
    Solid advice.
    Follow my 2018 competition prep here:
    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=175566421&p=1547462721#post1547462721
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  21. #21
    Registered User Nyergk's Avatar
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    Calisthenics, Strengh and Cardio !
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  22. #22
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    Originally Posted by le0p View Post
    Yeah, I hear ya. I have extremely bad social anxiety as well as general anxiety. The only that gets me through it is going in with a plan and staying focused. Otherwise, my mind wanders and my anxiety goes crazy. Good luck man, it takes time to get used to some things more than others, just try and find what helps you get through it and do that.
    I struggled at first as well, was worried about what others thought of me. My wife actually pushed me to use it once and it helped get me moving that way. What also helped is I became friends with a few of the regulars at the time that I go so I can be social but also get the work done.
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  23. #23
    Powerlifting in disguise induced_drag's Avatar
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    Just dont curl in the squat rack or do the stupid silly things on youtube and no one will care.

    Learn to workout correctly and you will find the "hardcorez" guys will respect you regardless of what weight you are using.
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  24. #24
    Registered User Garage Rat's Avatar
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    You could always go to Planet Fitness the non judgmental zone.
    But really you need to learn to blank out everything other than what your mission is when you get to the gym.
    Hard to do sometimes with all thats going on.
    You should just worry about yourself and not what everyone is doing.
    Work hard at what you do and people will see your serious.
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  25. #25
    Lean Mean Geek Machine DocHoss's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by DjChaotix View Post
    This may sound extremely silly, but going to the gym with hardcore social anxiety is tough. Being in a place that feels extremely judgemental is an absolute nightmare for me. I always feel like someone's laughing behind my back at how much I can lift cause I'm fairly new. Or that my form is off.

    I used to workout at home due to all this but you just can't get the same workout. So I've been going to the gym regardless - I don't want a ****ty body. I've realized the gym is the worst place for someone with social anxiety though.

    Anybody else struggle with this? Probably not... Haha
    I have social anxiety too. I'd much rather be lifting than have to make small talk at a conference or party. Actually, I think that going to the gym and lifting has helped me to become more outgoing and less anxious.

    Anxiety and intimidation kept me out of the gym for 30 years before my desire to change overruled my fear of ridicule. And you know what, no one laughed at the weak old noob. I have found that the big guys are nearly always nice people. Don't forget, the majority of them had to start from the beginning as well.

    I do make it a point to encourage the new people because I will never forget how I felt after a month of lifting when one of the trainers came over to me and said that I was doing a good job and was serious about lifting. Yes, I CAN do this!



    Originally Posted by jjchen330ci View Post
    I have more respect to overweight kids trying hard with 95lbs than those jackass knee bending 3 plates squat and think they are the alpha....
    THIS - absolutely!
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  26. #26
    The Cake Is A Lie! StressMonkey's Avatar
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    I was the most unathletic person in the universe growing up. I put off joining a gym for years. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I started and felt incredibly out of place. It took me 2-3 weeks to realize how silly I had been. I've said that it was a great day when I realized no one cared what I was doing in the gym and an even better day when I realized I wouldn't care if they did.
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  27. #27
    Registered User alwayschestday's Avatar
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    I find actually the more people in the gym the less recognized you become. If anyone's watching all they care about is when your done and they can use the stuff. As pointed above, don't do stupid things. I wouldn't put a hoodie over my head while I lift that's getting pretty close to a Burqa. Almost everyone in there, is there to help and You just found a huge group of people that have the exact same interest as you. Good job, keep plugging away..
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  28. #28
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    Originally Posted by alwayschestday View Post
    I find actually the more people in the gym the less recognized you become. If anyone's watching all they care about is when your done and they can use the stuff. As pointed above, don't do stupid things. I wouldn't put a hoodie over my head while I lift that's getting pretty close to a Burqa. Almost everyone in there, is there to help and You just found a huge group of people that have the exact same interest as you. Good job, keep plugging away..
    ^^^^ Definitely this. I always found myself more comfortable with large crowds than with small groups. And people do expect you to have a face. If you go in there all covered up like Strider or Obi-Wan Kenobi, it will attract more attention.
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  29. #29
    Registered User wesleysh21's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jjchen330ci View Post
    People in the gym do judge other people, but not to laugh at them. it is to take note who is really serious and get them respect or help them if needed.

    I have more respect to overweight kids trying hard with 95lbs than those jackass knee bending 3 plates squat and think they are the alpha....
    This. I am WAY more judgmental in the gym than I should be. 90% of the time I am too caught up in my lifts to give a crap. The other parts...like warming up or taking long rests between heavy sets, I'm looking around judging. If you have a good physique, I'm taking notes. If you don't, like most people in the average gym, I'm only judging your rep pace (do you use a slow negative, squeeze at the top), your number of cheat reps, the general intensity you approach your workout with, and how long your rest periods are between sets.

    Unless you are lifting an insane amount of weight properly, I really don't care how much you are lifting. You can be the skinniest dork in the gym. If you are lifting the proper weight FOR YOU, with decent form and decent rep tempo...I think "I can only imagine where that guy is going to be in 3-5 years. I got to witness his start." When people screw that stuff up, even if they already have decent physiques, I get disappointed. They get to tell their friends they workout X number of days a week and lift X amount of weight. But in the end, their physiques don't improve, which discourages others from this lifestyle. All they think is "so and so lifted X times per week for X years and nothing happened, I'd rather have fun." Such a shame. I saw a guy ATTACK his workout with intensity this Saturday. He had the "I used to be an athlete over a decade ago" physique. He pulled the 25, 20 and 15 lbs dumbells off the rack and hoarded them in the corner (amongst other stuff). He did a circuit that involved about 6 exercises including jumping jacks. When he got to his triple bicep curl set with the Dumbbells he set out, he did a partial squat on the down portion of every rep, then exploded UP so the bicep curl was virtually all legs. I told my brother this guy was doing cardio curls, because I have no other way to describe it. I apologize, but YES I judged that guy.

    If you curl in the squat rack, I judge you. If you take 5 minutes between sets, I judge you. If you go in and handle your business, I judge you...positively. To help with the social anxiety part of being an introvert, I wear a hoodie. I don't pull the hood over my head, but I love having the option. I've tried wearing a long sleeved shirt but nothing replaces a hoodie for feeling like I'm in a cacoon. I have also traded my earbuds in for on ear headphones. Over the ear headphones seemed a little much, and I like to hear "a little bit" and have a little breath ability....so it was the perfect choice for me. I would feel naked if you make me go to the gym with a t-shirt and ear buds.
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  30. #30
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    Originally Posted by wesleysh21 View Post
    If you take 5 minutes between sets, I judge you.
    That's pretty silly. Sometimes 5 minutes between sets is absurd. But sometimes, at least 5 minutes is necessary.
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