It’s been years since I’ve gotten a spout of social anxiety. I had gotten better by forcing myself to go to new places, learn new things. Last week however, I joined a gym for the first time and I felt so panicky! I wanted to cry and run out of there as fast as I can. I felt like everyone in the crowded gym was starring at me and judging me. Maybe to you it sounds strange, but here is some back story to why I felt this way…
About 14 years ago, when I was in HS, my friend Ana and I went to a local gym she was signed up with. It was a little hole in the wall gym, nothing major. She had a free visitors pass, so I went a long with her, excited to exercise for the first time at the gym. As soon as we walk in and head over to the counter to check in, the person behind the desk looks at me and says “Why are you here? You’re skinny, you don’t need to be at the gym”. I can’t explain how embarrassed I felt when he said this to me, in front of other people, in front of my friend. I was a lot shyer and more anxious back then, so I kept my mouth shut, smiled and walked in. My friend and I went downstairs where we boxed for a little while and it really was fun. I worked up a sweat! After leaving though, I told myself I was never signing up or visiting a gym, because I was too skinny and I obviously shouldn’t be there. This stuck with me for years, even though I’ve grown and learned that being healthy and fit is for EVERYONE, not just “fat” people.
Now lets fast forward to last week. As I was standing there, shaking, and wanting to cry in that crowded gym, my husband assured me no one was looking at me or judging me and to try an relax. He told me to stay calm and focused and he explained to me that I did not go there to just stand there watching HIM work out. SO I listened to him. Although I was still very anxious, I began working out on the machines, listening to the advice of my husband. One machine after the other. All around the gym. I tried remaining calm and just doing my workout. After 45 minutes of me exercising and learning how to use the machines, while also sneaking peeks to the people around me, I realized no one was really paying me any mind. Except one old creep who seemed to be there to check out woman! Besides him though, everyone was there for the same reason I was, to better themselves.
After our workout, we picked up our son from the gym daycare and we left. My husband was telling me how happy and proud he was of me. It felt great to hear, but I still sat in the car and cried. I let out all the nervous, anxious energy I was feeling, right then and there. After my cry, I thanked my husband Mike for encouraging me and being a little hard on me, because if not, who knows if I would have stayed. At the end of the day, I was also proud of myself. I didn’t run and hide. I didn’t cry in front of everyone. I did what I went there to do. Since this, I’ve gone back to the gym 2 more times, and the anxiety is almost gone. I feel more comfortable and excited to be working on myself. I know that in due time, I wont feel anxious at all, because it will be something I’m already use to doing. It will be a part of my life, my routine.
The anxiety attached to working out at a gym has always bothered me, especially because I know I can gain healthy muscle weight and feel so much better. I hate that someone took away my excitement towards bettering myself. So now, finally at the age of 31, where I am a lot more comfortable with myself and my decisions, I decided to do this for me. I signed up for the gym. I’m becoming stronger, physically and emotionally. I’m learning more about myself and I’m spending quality time with my husband, as we become healthier and know we can be around for more years to come, to watch our son grow up. What more can I ask for? 🙂