If a room of fit bodies in spandex and muscle shirts makes you break into a sweat, it could be gym intimidation.
Physique anxiety, fear of looking stupid, fear of isolation and fear of looking like a klutz were the top four reasons listed for avoiding the gym, according to Club Industry, a fitness industry magazine.
“It’s difficult to be in a gym and see somebody who is thinner or is more muscular and you’re not where you want to be,” said Tyson Brown, a kinesiologist and certified personal trainer at Humber College. “There’s a lot of social pressure.”
When Rose Nelson-Ebimie, 25, final year Humber pharmacy technician student, first started going to the gym she said it was hard not to give up.
“I felt I was getting looks from people,” she said. “It makes you feel out of place, you feel bad and you don’t even want to go back to the gym.”
Brown said many of his female clients have complained they are nervous of “stepping onto of the ‘man-side’ of the gym,” also known as the the weight room, where the female to male ratio significantly drops.
Some weight room enthusiasts “make a big show of it,” said Leanne Henwood-Adam, fitness facility manager at Humber.
Brown said it’s hard to find a comfortable place to exercise.
The chances of acquiring more space on North campus in the near future are quite slim, according to Henwood-Adam. However, there are plans to convert the lounge area into a fitness space once the new building opens up. Meanwhile, Lakeshore campus will soon open a large, new athletic facility.
She recommends shy people use empty studios with hand weights and other small exercise equipment in the hallway if they feel intimidated.
“You can get a total body workout and never step foot on the other side,” she said.
The other solution is to try personal training, said Brown, noting “it can help a lot with the social pressure that people go through.”
“[Brown] always encouraged me,” said Nelson-Ebimie. “He was always there to help and he told me I shouldn’t be scared.
“I walk in there and show them how I’m the one with the first smile.”