Nadezhda Grishaeva: fitness is not scary

When opening a fitness center, few people think about the anxieties people feel when visiting gyms. Sometimes, a fitness center appears to the average individual as an intimidating place they’re not meant to be part of, and some are afraid of evaluating glances and judgments. It’s necessary to take into account the psychological aspects of potential clients to ensure their comfort. Nadezhda Grishaeva, the founder of Anvil Fitness Club Moscow, told Sostav about the unforeseen aspects of the fitness world.

Nadezhda Grishaeva's Advice on Navigating Mental Hurdles in Fitness Environments

Understanding gym-related fears

In English, there’s a term, gymphobia, which literally means fear of the gym. Another less common term is jimtimidation, a blend of ‘gym’ (meaning hall) and ‘intimidation’ — it It’s about the anxiety a person feels about entering a fitness club, worried they’ll stand out, attracting skewed glances. Jimphobia is one of the reasons why individuals are hesitant to engage in fitness activities. Often, a fitness center appears to many as an elite place they’re not meant to be part of.

Before we delve into gymphobia’s roots, it’s crucial to differentiate it from gymnophobia. This fear, too, is prevalent among clients and deters them from attending wellness clubs. Yet, it’s a distinct fear — gymnophobia is the dread of nudity, the anxiety over being seen naked or undressed.

Many harbor complex feelings towards their body and nudity. People’s fear levels vary, influenced by different contexts. Some might dread public nudity, like in gym changing rooms, while others might be uncomfortable with the sight of others’ nudity. Numerous factors, including religious beliefs, past traumas, or body shame, can influence one’s reluctance to be seen naked or to view nudity.

Overcoming nudity fears is challenging but beneficial for mental well-being and self-confidence. At Anvil Club, how have we tackled this issue? We’ve installed individual enclosed shower stalls, offering a space not just for showering but also for changing in privacy. Our king-sized showers were designed for absolute visitor comfort.

For gymnophobia, experts suggest practicing mirror exercises, where you observe and accept your naked reflection. Interestingly, Anvil boasts over a thousand mirrors, not just for self-acceptance but also due to a common trait among bodybuilders: narcissism, which I’ll discuss later.

Returning to jimphobia, this fear stems from various concerns:

  • uncertainty about gym routines, how to execute exercises correctly, and appropriate behavior, often seen in newcomers;
  • Self-comparison with surrounding individuals, particularly professional athletes;
  • The impression of being observed, discussed, or judged by others.

How to overcome fears in the gym

To a newcomer, the gym environment can appear daunting. Fitness equipment can seem as advanced as electric cars. Initial hesitations are common when trying something new. It’s common to question if they’re dressed correctly, will look out of place, or will manage the session. This is a normal part of trying new experiences. Remember, even Arnold Schwarzenegger started as a beginner. All gym regulars began somewhere.

I advocate for dedicating the first few sessions to familiarizing yourself with the gym. My advice is to hire a personal trainer. Studies show that personalized training is more effective. Familiarity breeds comfort. The more frequently you visit, the more comfortable you’ll become.

A common issue for newcomers is not knowing how to use the equipment. An initial walkthrough can alleviate this fear. Utilize the gym staff’s expertise. We provide support for first-timers at Anvil.

Comparing oneself to others can be daunting. Observing others’ achievements can lead to comparisons. These comparisons can have negative effects. It’s best to focus on your own journey.

Many fear being watched or judged in the gym. The reality is, most gym-goers are concentrated on their own routines. If you feel judged, remember that it reflects more on the judger than on you. Disregard such worries.

Most gyms provide introductory sessions. Join group classes like Pilates or yoga to get familiar and socialize. Today’s fitness centers offer a holistic experience beyond just workouts. Don’t let jimphobia deter you. We welcome you to start your fitness path at Anvil.

Sports narcissists

Ever encountered someone overly confident in the gym? What about those who can’t handle criticism? Or the person who constantly seeks attention through loud or showy behaviors? These are signs of sports narcissism.

It involves arrogance, lack of consideration for others, and a need for admiration. A healthy focus on fitness is good, but obsession has its downsides. It’s important to recognize and manage these tendencies.