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Dread the Gym? 7 Ways to Get Past That

By Stephanie Booth
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD

Want to hit the gym, but can't quite seem to make it there? Your schedule might not be the only reason.

If you're feeling bored or self-conscious, afraid of injury, or just plain uncomfortable, there are solutions for all your workout angst.

1. “I’m too heavy for the gym.”

Maybe you think that people who go to the gym are already in shape. Not so! 

If you're afraid that people will judge your appearance, “remember that everyone is there to improve how they look and feel,” says Anika Christ, a program manager with Life Time Fitness. 

Try these ideas:

  1. Buddy up. To make yourself feel more comfortable, bring a friend with you.
  2. Pick your spot. Go for a machine that’s away from the action (and, perhaps, far from a mirror, if you don't want to see yourself while you're exercising), or nab a spot in the rear corner of a fitness class. Do whatever makes you feel at ease. You are in control.

Working out regularly can make you feel more confident. It's also a mood-booster. “One session at the gym can enhance your mood for up to 12 hours,” Christ says.

2. “I don’t know how to use the equipment.”

Never seen a kettlebell? Stumped by the settings on that rowing machine? That can feel intimidating.

Try this: Prep yourself ahead of time so you know what to expect.

“A quick online search will give you dozens of pictures, videos, and articles explaining the proper ways to use a piece of equipment or perform an exercise," says Aaron Maibach, a certified personal trainer in San Francisco.

If you still feel unsure once you start your workout, ask an employee or someone else who’s around for help. “Feeling lost in the gym happens to everyone,” Maibach says.

3. “I get so bored!”

Putting your head down, blasting your iPod, and focusing only on the exercise at hand is motivating for some people. For others, it’s not enough to beat boredom, says psychologist Patricia A. Farrell, PhD.

Try this: Shake up your routine. Try a group fitness classes -- from tai chi to Zumba -- most gyms offer. 

"Working out with other people gives you camaraderie and pumps up your enthusiasm," Farrell says. "You get a sense of 'We're all in this together,' which eliminates the feeling of 'I have to do this alone.'" 

Try to smile while you're getting your sweat on: Smiling releases endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals, and lowers stress, according to a study from the University of California at Irvine.

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