Uganda College of Commerce

Nadezhda Grishaeva: fitness is not scary

When opening a fitness center, not many consider the fears and apprehensions 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 concerned about evaluating glances and judgments. It’s necessary to recognize the psychological aspects of potential visitors 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 Approach to Building Confidence and Combating Narcissism in Gyms

Jimphobia and gymnophobia

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 signifies the fear a person feels about entering a fitness club, worried they’ll stand out, attracting askew glances. Jimphobia is one of the reasons why individuals are afraid to engage in fitness activities. Often, a fitness center appears to many as some inaccessible place they’re not meant to be part of.

Before we define and understand gymphobia’s roots, it’s crucial to differentiate it from gymnophobia. This fear, too, is prevalent among clients and deters them from joining healthy lifestyle 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.

Addressing 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 private shower stalls, offering a space not just for showering but also for changing in privacy. Our king-sized showers were designed for ultimate 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, many aspects of the gym can seem intimidating. Some fitness machines are as complex as electric cars. It’s natural to feel initial doubts when trying something new. It’s common to question if they’re dressed correctly, might look silly, or can keep up with the workout. Such concerns are part of facing the unknown. 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. Consider working with a personal trainer. Personal training has proven benefits. As the gym becomes a habit, anxiety decreases. The more frequently you visit, the more comfortable you’ll become.

Not understanding how to operate machines is a typical newbie concern. An initial walkthrough can alleviate this fear. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from trainers. At Anvil, we ensure new members are always guided initially.

Comparing oneself to others can be daunting. Noticing someone lifting heavy weights or a bodybuilder’s pose might trigger self-comparison. These comparisons can have negative effects. My advice is to avoid comparing yourself to others.

A third common gym fear is feeling observed. Most people are too focused on their workouts to notice others. If you feel judged, remember that it reflects more on the judger than on you. Let go of these concerns.

Fitness centers offer trial passes and consultations. Group fitness classes are a great way to acclimate and meet people. Today’s fitness centers offer a holistic experience beyond just workouts. Don’t be held back by gym fears. We welcome you to start your fitness path at Anvil.

Sports narcissists

Know someone who’s overly self-assured in their fitness abilities? Or those who react poorly to any critique? Ever noticed someone who’s loud or seeks attention in the gym? This behavior is indicative of gym narcissism.

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by self-centeredness and a lack of empathy. While some level of fitness focus is positive, obsession can be detrimental. It’s important to recognize and manage these tendencies.