Gymtimidation is Real: How do I Overcome it?


Courtesy of Villanova Recreation

The Davis Center serves as many Villanova students’ gym of choice on campus.

Isabella Balian, Staff Writer

“Gymtimidation” is a real thing, and many people experience it. Gymtimidation is a word used to refer to the feeling of dread, fear or general intimidation when going to the gym, or in other words, intimidation of the gym. 

A large number of women face gymtimidation and often find themselves too scared to go to the gym for a variety of reasons. Among the most popular reasons as to why women avoid the gym are because they feel too intimidated, worry about looking out of shape and fear judgment from other people. As someone who is passionate about fitness, I believe that the fitness industry must serve as a welcoming place for every person to exercise.

Because fitness is a major interest of mine, I thoroughly understand the scientific benefits  that exercise has on mental and physical health. Exercise is proven to improve mental health, as working out enhances our well-being by releasing endorphins. In addition to the release of endorphins, exercise can ease the symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. 

Physically, exercise can transform the body in different ways and help people become stronger, faster or more physically fit. However, it is important to recognize the fear of starting your fitness journey and the intimidation that comes with exercising in public gyms. 

Any form of workout has increased benefits on mental and physical health, but it is important to practice exercise that makes a person feel good. Learning to love exercise is all about finding a form of movement that suits one’s body best. A person can’t have fun while working out if they don’t enjoy what they are doing. 

Specifically, by practicing exercise that one likes to do, gymtimidation starts to fizzle out, because one can walk into the gym excited to workout. Lifting weights has become a vital part of my life, as it helps me gain confidence and physical strength. 

“Not only has lifting made me physically stronger, but mentally stronger as well,” student Haley Smith said. “I have experienced so much growth since channeling my energy into lifting. It’s my favorite way to unwind, my passion. I love challenging myself in the gym and seeing what my body is capable of.”

For women specifically, starting the weight lifting journey can be nerve wracking. Most women believe the myth that weight training will cause a “bulky” physique or that weight training is an exercise solely for men. Both of those assumptions are untrue.

After the COVID-19 isolation period, walking back into the gym was definitely an anxiety provoking experience for lots of people. 

“Once gyms reopened, I knew I had to face seeing other people while I worked out, this wasn’t just me in my back room by myself anymore,” Smith said. “It was definitely an adjustment at first and gymtimidation still sometimes gets to me, but I focus on listening to a killer playlist and knowing that no one is really paying any attention to me at all.”

Gymtimidation can be especially real in college gyms. I’ve definitely felt intimidated walking into the Davis center before, and I know that I am not alone. If someone feels anxious walking into the gym there are a few things they can do to help ease their anxiety. Try walking into the gym with a friend, because odds are most people are experiencing the same thing. Plan a workout before you walk in, and consider some backup exercises in case certain machines are taken. In addition to solo workouts, try reaching out to a trainer, or partake in a class, both of which Villanova offers. Remember that everyone is too preoccupied with their own workouts to be judging others, so people should focus on themselves and block everything else out. 

To start the new year, try a new fitness routine. Create a workout to get rid of gymtimidation, and who knows, maybe even pick up a new passion.