Helping Your Clients Overcome Gym Anxiety

For regular gym-goers, the gym may be a place for stress relief or personal time. For others though, it isn’t necessarily a place where they feel comfortable or where they can easily socialize. Some just don’t like to be working out with people looking or watching them. Some may be intimidated by others at the gym who are more in shape than they are. These things are forms of gym anxiety. An important part of being a personal trainer is helping clients get past gym anxiety. Although it may not be a part of the official job description, it’s a great way for trainers to go the extra mile and to help clients feel more confident in their training. Further, gym anxiety is not a reason over which you want to lose any clients.



Listen to Your Client

Imagine you have a client who decided to stop lessons after one or two days in the gym with you and you have no idea why. You probably will reach out about how their experience with you was and if they are interested in coming back. They may give you some excuses or reasons that are not entirely true simply because they are embarrassed about working out in a ‘socially vulnerable’ environment. Or they may just tell you that they are uncomfortable with a group class or with being sweaty around a bunch of people. It’s your duty to be a non-judgmental trainer and to build a strong client-trainer relationship so that they feel comfortable to share their real concerns.


It could also be that your client is not confident with the exercises or routines you started with them, and they lost motivation. If this is the case, you hopefully can work to come to a better routine that better fits your clients’ fitness and comfort level. You also should make sure to go through routines in a more deliberate and step-by-step nature to make sure they feel confident they know what they are doing. Work to make sure your client feels they have a level of control in what they are doing and are comfortable with what you are having them do.


Building Confidence in Your Client

Usually, the gym has two kinds of people – those who want to maintain their body, and those that are trying to build their body (or, in other words, their confidence). As a fitness trainer, you likely know how to deal with the gym-goer looking to maintain their body. It’s the other type of gym-goer that is more likely to have gym anxiety to overcome. As their trainer, you can make a big difference in their fitness journey by helping them get over their gym anxiety early on in their training. Here are some easy tips on building your client’s gym confidence:

  • Give them motivation by letting them know they’re doing a good job just by showing up

  • Give feedback on improvements or progress

  • Encourage them to keep coming back because continued work will breed results

  • Build a level of personal rapport in your client-trainer relationship so they feel more at ease around you and in working out


Any Improvement is Improvement

Relating back to the client feeling control of their circumstances, the client can feel little control in their training when they aren’t seeing results immediately. It’s easy for clients, especially clients new to the gym, to get discouraged when they are not seeing or feeling results quickly. In today’s world of instant gratification, instant improvement is almost expected and definitely desired by many. It’s important for you, as their trainer, to understand that training is a process and it takes time to see aesthetic improvement and improvements in their health. Your job is to help the client continue to work to achieve their fitness goals. Reiterate that, as long as they keep their routines and work at it, changes and progress will come over time.


Gym Anxiety and Overcoming It

While working out may come easy to you, remember that it’s not the case for everyone. Your client may feel dread about going to the gym without you knowing. It’s okay to reach out and let them know you’re excited to see them continue working with you. Your excitement and encouragement is an easy way to get your client excited about the gym.


Aspiring to be fit and live a healthy lifestyle should not come with the burden of anxiety. Keeping your clients comfortable (especially ones who are new to the gym) is a key part of your role as a personal trainer.

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