How to develop a fitness Mindset and cure Gym Intimidation | Blog
24Oct 2023
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How to develop a fitness Mindset and cure Gym Intimidation

Take a moment and see yourself achieving your fitness and physical goals. How do you feel? What is running through your head? Chances are, you feel on top of the world, and rightfully so.

Conquering ourselves and getting fit is an overlooked but profoundly satisfying achievement. This leads to the question, why do so many people fail on their fitness quests? The answer is one word: mindset.

But what is a mindset, how does it impact decision-making, and how can we develop one? More importantly, how can we overcome our fears and take action toward specific goals? Read on to find out.

What is a Mindset?

Mindset has various definitions, and perhaps the most accurate would be this: A person's mindset is the collection of beliefs and thoughts that impact self-worth, the perception of others, and how they see the world as a whole. Ten people can see the same news on TV, and each could perceive it differently precisely because we have different mindsets.

For example, if news breaks that someone has lost 100 pounds, one might think, "Well, this is probably due to good genetics." In contrast, another would conclude, "Healthy nutrition, a good training program, and consistency will get you there."

Notice how differently two people can perceive the same news. It is all thanks to the mindsets they carry. The first person likely believes that fitness is about having good genetics, but the second person knows better: fitness is about effort, consistency, and a decent enough action plan.

Develop a Fitness Mindset

The goal, of course, is to start thinking like the second person. Which leads to the question, how to develop a fitness mindset? So let us dive in and check out the four crucial steps you must take.

4 Ways to Develop a Fitness Mindset

Surround yourself with like-minded individuals.

It is often said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. If your average company is that of fit and active people, you will likely become one too. Similarly, if your company is that of sedentary and overweight folks who believe that some ancient Chinese secret is the key to fitness, guess what: you are bound to become like them.

One of the best ways to elevate your mindset is to surround yourself with people who have achieved what you want to have one day. That way, you will pick up ideas, feel motivated, and slowly realize that improvements are possible.

Push yourself past your perceived limitations.

The mind is often the limiting factor. We typically perceive ourselves as tired and unable to keep going, but this is far from the truth. When your mind suggests you cannot do something anymore, you are quick to believe, but here is an experiment you can try the next time you exercise:

Push yourself to your perceived limit and note how you feel. Chances are, you will be exhausted. Now, push a bit further. If you are running, do another 100 yards. If you are lifting weights, do another three reps. More than likely, you will be able to do that, and it will not be the end of the world. Occasionally pushing yourself a bit too hard can be beneficial because it teaches you that you can do more than you think.

Treat failures like a scientist would.

As Thomas Edison once said, "I have not failed. I have just found 10.000 ways that will not work." The truth is many people feel petrified of failure. Therefore, they need to find the perfect diet and training plan to neutralize any risk of failure, or they do not bother.

But here is the thing: Nobody can predict how you will react to a training program or diet - figuring that out comes down to trial and error. However, as you expose yourself to different approaches, you understand what works better for you.

More importantly, you develop a fitness mindset because you see that change is possible and that different approaches can work for you. It is a journey, and all you can do is move step by step.

Set SMART goals

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For example: Lose 10 pounds of fat in the next eight weeks. Setting such goals is vital because it makes it easier to create an actionable plan and break it down into smaller objectives. Plus, even if you do not achieve the goal as written, you will still make good progress.


It is important to note that tracking progress is crucial when setting SMART goals. For example, let us say you have set a goal to lose weight but fail to see progress. It does not necessarily mean you are not burning fat; it might simply be the case that you are also building muscle, leading to no actual weight loss.

In that case, it would be better to use other methods of tracking progress to ensure that you're moving in the right direction. Good options include: 

  • Progress photos to track visual changes
  • Circumference measures tracking how various body parts (e.g., thighs, waist, etc.) change over time

Seeing positive results from your efforts is great for morale and is one of the first steps toward developing a fitness mindset. In our other blog article, you can also read more about how to develop SMART goals.

Gym Intimidation: What it is and how to overcome it

Gym intimidation, also known as 'gymtimidation', is a type of fear people experience when they first start going to the gym. It typically leads to anxiety, lack of confidence, and low motivation for exercise.

Most people overcome gym intimidation by working out consistently, but the fear can stop some folks from going to the gym in the first place. For example, a person might want to start working out but feeling anxious could prevent them from ever stepping inside a gym.

Gym-related fears can be complex, but most people feel anxious as the result of several things:

  • Fear of what others might think.
  • Fear of not knowing how to do various movements.
  • Anxiety as the result of not being familiar with a gym and its rules.
  • Being afraid to use gym machines due to a lack of knowledge.

The good news is that gymtimidation is entirely normal, and most people experience it when they start working out. Even better? You can use numerous tactics to eradicate these fears and go to the gym feeling confident in yourself. Let us see what these are.

Do what feels familiar

Many people struggle to start going to the gym because it is unfamiliar: the environment, the exercises, the machines, and everything else.

So, instead of trying to learn something from the start, return to the basics and do what feels familiar. For example, you might not know how to bench press or set up a chest fly machine, but you are probably familiar with the treadmill and stationary bike.

Hop on a familiar cardio machine and use it for a few minutes at a low intensity. Doing so will help you feel more at ease and gain the courage to try other things.

Once you have warmed up a bit, do a basic warm-up routine of familiar movements: arm swings, leg swings, etc. Then, continue with things you have done before: bodyweight squats, push-ups, crunches, etc. The goal of your first workouts at the gym is not to be perfect but to start feeling more at ease in that environment. The more you expose yourself to the gym, the easier it will be to keep returning and trying new things.

Go with a Friend

Going to the gym with a friend is another fantastic way to alleviate anxiety and feel more at ease. Even if you do not know what you are doing, being together will make it easier to stick around.

Gym Buddy

Plus, having a training partner can be a fantastic way to train harder and be consistent. Knowing that someone expects you to show up can motivate you to keep showing up even when you don't feel like it.

Leverage Hotel Gyms

Aside from being a convenient way to stay fit on the road, hotel gyms can help you become more familiar with the environment, learn how to use various machines, and melt some anxiety.

Hotel gyms are rarely busy, and you are likely to come across only a handful of people when visiting one. Knowing that you are mostly alone can give you the freedom to walk around freely, explore, and learn to navigate gyms. Check out GymFactor, our state-of-the-art gym advisor tool to help you find the best hotel gyms worldwide.

These positive feelings of ease can translate to other gyms. In that line of thinking, you can also visit commercial gyms early in the morning. Even big gyms are likely to be mostly empty in the morning, allowing you to work on your anxiety.

Use Apps for Guidance

Anxiety often results from a lack of knowledge. You are unsure how to structure a good training plan, warm up correctly, and do individual movements, which makes you feel unworthy to be at the gym. The good news is that there are numerous ways to gain knowledge and improve your understanding of proper training, exercises, and other workout-related details.

One practical way to expand your knowledge is to use fitness apps. Though it may seem like a superficial solution, using an app can provide the advice, guidance, and structure you need to stop feeling ashamed and start taking action.

For example, Hevy is an excellent app for tracking your workouts and learning about exercises through visuals and step-by-step instructions. Similarly, Alpha Progression is great for people looking to get into strength training. The app provides ready-to-use training plans and gives practical recommendations for when and how to increase the difficulty.

Fitbod is another excellent app that can help you deal with gym anxiety. The app provides an all-in-one training experience by generating tailored training plans, providing practical recommendations, and giving you the much-needed structure to gain confidence and succeed.

In today's world of freely available information on almost any subject imaginable, you do not have to feel crippled or ashamed for not knowing. All you have to do is seek out guidance and you are on track developing your fit mindset.

plan. travel. workout.

Overcoming gym intimidation can be a considerable challenge. Some people are crippled by anxiety to the point that even entering the gym feels impossible.

Luckily, as you can see, there are many ways to build up your knowledge and confidence. For instance, you can use an app like Hevy, Fitbod or Alpha Progression for the guidance and structure you need. Alternatively, use hotel gyms while traveling to get used to the environment. Check out GymFactor - our state-of-the-art gym advisor tool.

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