A rapidly viral workout trend on TikTok has found millions of women are gripped by “gym fear,” or the fear of working out in public gyms.
Many women admit that they feel overwhelmed when they walk into a male-dominated gym with lots of equipment they don’t know how to use. As a result, they can feel anxious and self-conscious in public playgrounds.
This is where TikTok’s “Shy Girl” workout comes into play. It is useful not only for those who prefer to be discreet in the gym, but also for those who want to exercise from the comfort of their home.
Fitness influencers like Brianna Joy Cohn regularly post #shygirlworkouts on TikTok, where she has 2.1 million followers, and Instagram, where she has 1.1 million followers.
She was inspired by meeting women who were hesitant to go to the gym. That’s because she didn’t know how to do movements like lunges and squats, or because she was worried that others would judge her.
For Akriti Bhatia, an Indian housewife living in Delhi, the “Shy Girl” training was a game-changer. The 35-year-old, who gained 15 kg (33 lbs) last year after her first pregnancy, is looking to get in shape as her blood pressure, blood sugar and triglyceride (a type of fat) levels have “lowered”. He says he was forced to do so. After giving birth.”
“I was desperate to get back in shape for my young baby and family. But I had body image issues and was intimidated by fancy gym equipment, so going to the gym wasn’t an option. There wasn’t,” she says.
Experts say “gym fear” is a real problem that poses a hurdle for people who are keen to exercise but are hesitant to go to an unfamiliar fitness center.
Abhijeet Sahoo, a fitness trainer who trains eight women from his home in Noida, northern India, says women face a double whammy.
“Social pressures force women to strive to achieve the perfect body shape.” [and] “This pressure is even stronger in male-dominated exercise environments, such as gyms, where the focus is on people’s physicality,” Sahoo says.
“Women who struggle with body image issues feel uncomfortable facing inequalities in these formal athletic spaces.”
The “Shy Girl” workout is aimed at beginners and people who are nervous about going to the gym, Sahoo said. User-friendly workouts help women overcome their inhibitions and make them feel more confident exercising in the gym in the future.
It’s perfect for practicing at home because you can do it using only your own body weight. All you need is a corner, a yoga mat, and maybe a couple of dumbbells, he explains.
Sahoo’s client, who requested anonymity, said she felt “uncomfortable” working out at the gym with so many people around.
People who suffer from body image issues may experience anxiety at the gym. A Finnish study published in the journal Fat Studies in 2019 found that overweight people experience harassment and ridicule while exercising.
Many women in this study reported feeling judged and even sexualized when trying to use the gym’s weight area.
Fitness coaches offer more practical tips for shy people. Avoid peak gym hours when you start. This way, you won’t have to wait until you want to use the equipment, and you can spend more time learning how to use it properly.
“Try to do your gym sessions during times when machine traffic is low,” Sahoo says. “It’s easier to move around the gym and most of the machines are open so you can train and get the hang of it. It’s also less stressful and makes you feel healthier instead of having a nervous breakdown. This is good because you have to concentrate.”
Many clients also find it more comfortable working out in smaller training studios where they can easily schedule customized private sessions with their trainers.
Another tip to overcome gym anxiety is to train with a buddy. Sahoo suggests finding a friend or relative with similar goals and joining a gym together.