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  1. #1
    Registered User metevido's Avatar
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    Gym with social anxiety

    Hi everyone I wanted to ask if anyone has an experience similar to mine, and if so - how you guys deal with it?
    I suffer from social anxiety & ASD that can get quit debilitating, and one of the things that I struggle with is going to the gym. Of course there are lots of people in the gym, and I find myself getting embarrassed to do anything due to that. It feels like all the other gym-goers watching me and judging my posture or how I use equipment. I'm a not a fit person, and also very awkward and slower, which makes me feel like a fish out of water in the gym. But I do want to get fit and strong. I run, roller skate and exercise at home, but also want to do more than that.
    When my cousin is in town I usually go to the gym with her, she's amazing and I don't feel awkward when accompanied by a muscled woman who knows how to use EVERYTHING in there. Sadly I don't have anyone else in my circle that's willing to go with me, or is available more often.
    SO I wanted to ask for the advice of people out there, if anyone deals with the same level of social anxiety (or any at all really), how you deal with judgmental people or weird looks? Or alternatively how do you get that "I don't care" attitude in the gym?
    I'd love to hear your advices
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  2. #2
    Registered User Heisman2's Avatar
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    Could you hire a personal trainer at the gym for a session or two to show you how to do various things? At any decent gym most people will not judge you at all as long as you are not getting in other peoples' way and as long as you are not doing anything dangerous. Consider picking a few simple exercises initially (ie, leg press, chest press, etc) that are easy to perform correctly and focus on those to build confidence, then slowly branch out by incorporating new exercises.

    For those who do not know, ASD = autism spectrum disorder.
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  3. #3
    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by metevido View Post
    Or alternatively how do you get that "I don't care" attitude in the gym?
    I think you framed it perfectly right here. If you can deal with music in your ears (which I assume the gym is playing anyway), put on headphones and play something you enjoy, is soothing, podcast, whatever. Focus in on the weights/machines and whatever exercises you're doing. Ignore everyone else, who really aren't watching or judging you in the first place. If anyone is giving you weird looks, stare at them with the exact same weird look until they look away (I guarantee it'll work). A lot of us actually prefer to be anti-social in the gym and just work, although I'll talk to regulars who talk to me since I'd be a d*** otherwise.

    I'm not a mental health professional, so ignore anything above that may not be good for you in general.
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  4. #4
    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    You don't have to affect an attitude. Just focus on what you are doing - that's why you are there and that's why everyone else is too. If people talk to you then talk back politely - just like if you were riding a train or walking in the park.
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    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    More than likely, everyone else there is minding their own business as well, or more preoccupied with their own social impression than contemplating anyone else's. IME most people in the gym are kind and helpful, and those few who are obnoxious are already so self-absorbed that you're probably not on their radar anyway.
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  6. #6
    Registered User BeginnerGainz's Avatar
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    Literally nobody else cares about what you’re doing. Go do you.
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  7. #7
    Registered User GeneralSerpant's Avatar
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    It's nice to just get to your station as quick as possible and practice the exercise. Distractions are key. Focusing on one exercise in particular for instance is a good distraction. Lighter weights make it harder for your lack of form to betray you, and always have their purpose in a workout regimen anyways. Learn about the exercise on the internet when you get home and rinse/repeat.
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  8. #8
    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    Everyone else is worrying about the same thing. The best thing is just read up on gym etiquette and if you follow those rules you'll be one of the most favorite people in the gym.
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    Registered User paulinkansas's Avatar
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    I was 17 years old and weighed 136 pounds when I went to college and started lifting weights. Student population was 20,000. I was literally the smallest and youngest guy in the college weight room. I just focused on the piece of equipment I was using, and would glance at the attractive women that I knew I had no chance with. Everyone in the gym was older than me and probably had 30-75 more pounds.

    When I was in grad school studying advanced number crunching, I was lifting with Franco Columbu's wife's ex husband Larry.
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  10. #10
    Registered User MozyO's Avatar
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    I have bad social anxiety and struggle with the gym although as times went on ive realised most people are doing thier own thing and dont really care what anyone else is doing (unless its bad etiquette).

    Anyone who is walking around a gym makin fun of beginners form are aholes anyway and not worth worryin about.
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  11. #11
    Registered User ChunkBuster's Avatar
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    Wear headphones.

    I’m in the gym to get my session done, improve from last week and get out. Don’t care about anyone else.

    Nice to look a a few cardio bunnies in leggings.

    Job done.

    Or can you get a barbell smd workout at home.?
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  12. #12
    joe joewattie's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by metevido View Post
    I suffer from social anxiety & ASD that can get quit debilitating, and one of the things that I struggle with is going to the gym
    A family friend faced similar. He's autistic and socially withdrawn. He started lifting at home but his options were limited. I don't know how he did it but he found the courage to join a gym. It's a 24 hr. gym so he goes late at night when it's all but empty.

    Fast forward - what a change. He smiles and jokes around a bit now, even visits at family gatherings. Working out has put his head in a whole different space. Again I don't quite know how he did it but Wow! The gym has been far better for him than all that medicine he used to have to take.

    I hope you find a way to move forward. Stealing from "Mary Poppins", may you find the "sugar" that helps the medicine go down :-)

    (And yes, physique-wise he now looks like an athlete.)
    Last edited by joewattie; 02-01-2022 at 03:29 AM.
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