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Day 23. New Year Gym Fear

A girl stretching in blue gym gear, next to the words 'New Year gym fear'
23% of the UK are worried they are not "fit enough" to join a gym

With the New Year in sight, we’re speaking with the experts to determine how to overcome the ‘gym fear’.

A girl stretching in blue gym gear, next to the words 'New Year gym fear'


New Years resolutions are in sight, and while lots of Brits will head to the gym this January, it is important to remember that new years resolutions are about what you want to improve in your life. Don’t let expectations from others make you feel bad for indulging over Christmas, or that you have to make up for it in the New Year. If fitness isn’t for you, go your own way and find a new years resolution for you – or don’t do one at all.

But for those of us who are planning on getting into the gym – for whatever reason, the gym fear is real. According to a survey of 2,000 Brits by Nuffield Health, almost a quarter (23%) agreed with the statement “I am worried I’m not fit enough” to join the gym. PureGym identified the top five reasons that leave Brits lacking confidence in the gym:

  1. Using the equipment properly: 60% of us are most concerned about not knowing how to use the machines when we visit
  2. Not being as “fit” as everyone else: More than half (56%) of respondents felt uncomfortable about not being as “fit” as others at the gym, while 54% felt insecure about their own body and the way they looked
  3. Visiting the gym when it’s busy: 55% of gym members don’t like to train at times when there’s lots of other people around
  4. Not having a defined workout plan: Almost half (43%) of the people we asked struggled with not knowing where to begin when they entered the gym itself
  5. Having to ask for help or advice: Just over a third (36%) of respondents found asking people for help at the gym the most uncomfortable part of joining

We spoke to Rory Craig, a fitness instructor at Brimhams Active, on the best ways to overcome these gym fears, and learn to love your exercise:

If you are just starting out in the gym, or with exercise in general, the best thing you can do for yourself is invest in a 1-1 session. Even if you are not looking for long-term personal training, even just one or two sessions to show you how everything works, answer any questions and talk you through a training program. If you can’t afford personal training, most gyms should offer an ‘induction’ for free, just to show you how to use the equipment and get around the gym.

Using Equipment Properly 

No one knows how to use all the equipment in the gym when they first joined, and nor are they expected to, so ask questions. Avoiding using equipment you are unsure on can make for a very boring workout, and no one wants to only use a treadmill! A lot of gyms will have staff and personal trainers working on the gym floor that you can ask if you have any queries. Using gym equipment wrong isn’t embarrassing – everyone does it. But it can cause injuries, so be sure to ask if you don’t know how to use something.
Remember form is everything. You might see a lot of people lifting super heavy weights, but if their form is off they will only cause themselves injuries, and delay muscle growth as well as any strength development. Little or no weight with good form is better than heavy weight with poor form. Again, if you are not sure on your form, ask someone, book a 1-1, or record yourself and watch it back.

Not being as “fit” as everyone else

It upsets me when people think they are not fit enough to even join a gym, because really there is no need to have any level of fitness to begin with at all. The gym is for everyone. We have classes such as yoga or Pilates, circuit training, box-hitt, TRIP (immersive spin) and many more that are suitable for complete beginners, and with an expert always in the room, we wont let you go wrong. But if classes aren’t for you, you can also book a gym induction to go through everything. The important thing to remember is everyone in the gym is there to improve. Everyone is in the same position as you – they want to get better, whether that is improving their fitness, getting stronger, developing new skills or just being more confident in the gym. Everyone started the gym for the fist time once, we’ve all been there and are still all trying to improve every time we step foot in the gym. Being less fit than others is expected but the exciting part is how much room to improve there is.

Visiting the gym when it is busy

Visiting the gym when it’s busy can be intimidating for even the most frequent gym goers. And while I would always recommend choosing a time that is less busy (you can ask your gym when their peak time are), I appreciate that the gym needs to fit around your schedule, not the other way around. So, if you can only make it at peak times, plan your session based on that. If you go in to a busy gym with no plan, it can be overwhelming and off-putting. Speak with an instructor to find out what equipment is often free at peak times, or create a floor/dumbbell workout that you can do if you don’t want to hop from machine to machine when its super busy. Planning ahead is key to avoid being overwhelmed.

Not having a defined workout plan

Not having a defined workout plan shouldn’t put anyone off. At Brimhams, we offer a free, tailored session plan when you have an induction, so you have always got somewhere to start. Plans are also not for everyone, try out all the machines, exercises and types of exercise, and find what you enjoy, Whatever your goal is, if you do the workouts you enjoy, you will reach your goals quicker and in a much more sustainable way. Ask your gym if they offer induction sessions or session plans to help you find your favourites.

Having to ask for help

I appreciate asking for help can be embarrassing or scary – but that’s why we are there. As gym staff, we are in this job because we love it, it’s our passion. So helping people start out, and answering questions is one of the best parts of our day. No question is a silly one, and trust me – we’ve heard them all! You’d be surprised how many people have the same questions but don’t speak up. If you are really not keen on asking something in person, you can email in or message us on social media. We are here to help.

Is the gym for you?

At the end of the day, the gym is for everyone, it might not work for everyone, and that’s okay. No one should feel a sense of pressure to join because everyone else does in January, or you think your New Years Resolution should include fitness or diets. If you are looking to join a gym for these reasons, the chances are you won’t sustain it. But if you want to learn to love the gym, it really can become an amazing part of your life that helps your physical health as well as your mental health. There are an unprecedented amount of benefits associated with health and fitness, so if you want to find out more or try it out to see if it is for you, just get in touch – whatever your goal we are here to help.