When I was first put on anti-anxiety medication, I noticed an alarming weight gain happening. So, I decided to do something about it and went to a nearby gym. This turned out to be a bad idea for someone suffering from anxiety and who was terrified of socializing. However, it was an adventure.

I will call this gym “The Gym”. It was one of those typical gyms with lots of very fit people posing for each other in tight spandex. There were a lot of scary people I call iron monkeys. You know the type. They spend half the day at the gym growling into a mirror while they pose. Sometimes they growl at each other which I was pretty convinced was a mating ritual but never had the nerve to ask about. These were very large people and the term, iron monkeys, was kept very carefully to myself.

Mostly what I noticed about The Gym was the men and women posing for each other. This was another mating ritual whose complexity eluded me. Apparently the goal was to go on a piece of equipment designed to show you off to maximum benefit. The stepper and elliptical were the best for this display. One woman even told me she did her real workout at home, she simply went there to meet people.

So, The Gym was an experiment that quickly imploded on me.

Recently I started getting back into fitness again. I’m diabetic so losing weight is a priority. I’m not very good at it but I’m trying. I had the option of going to The Gym again but that left me on the floor in a panic attack so I quickly discarded that idea. Instead, I make use of the equipment in my building in the evenings so I know there’s little chance of being disturbed. I was asked to join a fitness class but, again, that filled me with anxiety.

So, what’s an introverted anxiety-ridden girl to do? Here’s some ideas;

  1. Get some private training time. I got to get some one on one training with the Primary Care Network with a kinesthesiologist. We built a program designed for my needs.
  2. Get some music to listen to during your workout. I find that putting headphones on serves two purposes; it shuts out the outside world and people tend to not bother me. Of course, having good music to listen to during a workout helps your rhythm which is always good.
  3. Do your workout during the downtime. Go to the gym when its slow. This might mean going during the early morning or late evening. Fewer people means less anxiety. It also means more access to the equipment
  4. Get outside. Running is free. There are organizations who can show you the fundamentals of running. Biking is another way to go or even walking. Take the kids to the park and play tag. Going outside is a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the fresh air. There are plenty of outdoor exercises you can do with a bit of imagination.
  5. Remember to breathe. The other people at the gym are there for their own reasons. When you think anxiety is becoming overwhelming, just step outside for a moment and breathe. It’s okay to take a moment to yourself.

Fitness is important to a healthy body and healthy mind. Those of us who suffer from anxiety have a few challenges to overcome but with some help and creative thinking, we can do it.