How to help clients with a fear of the gym

If you’re a professional in the fitness industry, you’re used to spending a lot of time in the gym – and see it as a place of peace and comfort. However, many people have a fear of the gym, for a number of different reasons and can see it as an intimidating environment, particularly given the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Reasons your clients might have a fear of the gym:
  • Lack of experience or knowledge
  • Negative previous experiences
  • Worried about other people being around
  • Lack of body confidence
  • Cleanliness / COVID related concerns

In this post, we’ll look at some of the ways you can gently encourage your clients who have a fear of the gym, to make the first step on their fitness journey or get back into it post-covid.

Meet up outside the gym first

If your client seems averse to stepping foot in the gym, suggest that you meet outside of the gym first. As a personal trainer, you should have your own collection of weights and resistance bands – or, for your first practice, you and your client could just focus on bodyweight exercises.

Depending on the current restrictions in place in your country of operation, entering their house might not be an option, but if the weather allows, then meet online or head to the local park! Check out these 5, Easy Outdoor Training Ideas if you need some inspiration!

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When you meet, talk about the gym in a positive light, and maybe gently suggest that you take your client on a tour around the gym when possible.

Show them around and be patient

Don’t plan on doing any exercises the first time your client goes into the gym unless they are feeling up to it. Be patient with your clients, as everyone is different and some people will take longer than others to feel comfortable.

Take them on a tour of the gym, explaining the machines, as well as the various weights that they could use. Make sure that they know what ‘sets’, ‘reps’ and other gym language means.

Then, ask them if they feel comfortable working out here. Ensure you supervise them throughout and use comforting language. But whatever you do, don’t make a spectacle of them!

This also provides a good opportunity to highlight the COVID-safe measures that the gym has put in place.

Choose a quiet time

Many people are scared of gyms because they don’t like the idea of other people watching them work out.

Bearing this in mind, suggest that your first gym session be when it is quietest. This will need to fit around your client’s schedule of course, but it could be in the middle of the day when most people are at work, or very early in the morning. Typically, avoid evenings and weekends when your client is getting used to working out in a gym environment.

Stick with a simple programme

Make sure that your client has already done all of these exercises outside the gym. If they haven’t had the chance to do that, then ahead of the session, send them information on the exercises and maybe some visual examples.

If you want to challenge them, you could just add a bit of extra weight onto their exercise – for example, they could do squats with dumbells rather than just with bodyweight. Make sure that they have plenty of space, and aren’t too close to anyone using bodybuilding – level weights.

With just a bit of time, your client should become a gym fanatic and will see why you love it so much!