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The 8 Emotions of Exercise Part 3: Fear

The views expressed in this article are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of Body Twenty Global

In the last two articles we discussed how anger and sorrow fit into your exercise life, how you can better understand them, and how they can be useful to you in the pursuit of your goals. In this article we’ll discuss the science of fear and anxiety and how you can manage them throughout your exercise journey.

Emotion #3: Fear

“Fear is liar!” is something you may have heard at your last motivational summit or church service recently. While it is an encouraging thing to hear, its unfortunately not completely true. Fear is a complex emotion that does an excellent job at keeping us safe and preventing us from making terrible decisions. Fear is a liar if its as a result of irrational or untrue beliefs about yourself though. If you’d like to know more about how self-talk and how it relates to confidence, check out our previous article called The Power of “Yet”. For now, though, lets dive into how we can better understand fear.

Understanding Fear and Anxiety

Most studies on fear suggest to us that death is not the most pressing fear in society today. Most people identify public speaking or being judged by their peers as their biggest fear. I even read an article by a friend recently who said that even though he had prepared to give speeches in front of his classes at school as a child, he’d lie to his teacher, telling her he’d forgotten to prepare, then get an F for his speech. He was so afraid of public speaking that he’d rather get an F than stand up in front of his class. This type of fear is defined by Sport Psychologist Dr Michael Gervais as the Fear of Other People’s Opinions or FOPO for short.

If FOPO is the number one fear in modern society, then is it any surprise that there are so many individuals out there who are terrified to go to the gym? If you’re one of these individuals, the idea of going to a gym terrifies you because of all the judging eyes that will be on you as you try to work out while having no idea whether your technique is correct, or whether you’re strong enough or thin enough to use that machine. Its scary when you look at it like that.

Consider this, though. Consider that everyone else at the gym is so preoccupied with their own workouts that they don’t spend as much time as you think looking at you. That’s what the gym is for, isn’t it? Focusing on and improving yourself. Nobody gets up early in the morning to go and gym because the highlight of their day is staring at and judging those who are in worse shape than them. (If people like that do exist, then you should feel sorry for how narcissistic and insecure they are in order to do something like that. People like that deserve 0% of your attention.)

If you are afraid of what other people think of you when going to the gym, that’s very normal and you don't need to feel guilty about it. I suggest going to gym with a friend or hiring a personal trainer to train you. That will likely make your gym experience more pleasant because you’ll have someone with you to encourage you. If you’d like some tips on how to invite your friend to gym check out our previous article called 4 Ways to Get Your Friend to Join Your workout Without being a Jerk. The best option in my opinion though, is joining us at Body Twenty. Training with us means you’ll always have your own private personal trainer and private workout room. Your friend can join too!

Managing Your Fears

If you read our previous article about self-talk called The Power of “Yet”, you noticed that we discussed that speaking with others about the beliefs you have about yourself can be an amazingly healthy thing to do. This is because friends and family can help us identify which parts of our thinking are irrational or untrue. If Isabelle, for example, has a fear of being judged at a gym, she probably has an irrational belief to go with it. Let’s say that this belief is that she isn’t attractive enough to be attending a gym, and that gym is only for skinny super ladies and super muscular men. If Isabelle can open up about this to a trusted friend or family member, that person could then challenge her irrational thoughts. The person Isabelle confides in about these things can provide her with evidence against these beliefs, for example, Isabella’s friend could challenge the aforementioned belief about her not being attractive enough to attend gym by telling her that the gym is for everyone, and that she is attractive because of how many dates she’s been on in the past year.

These fears and beliefs don’t go away easily though. Isabelle would need to identify which things trigger those fears and irrational beliefs and adjust her self-talk for the first several gym sessions before she overcomes that fear. To further manage her social anxiety, she can practice deep breathing exercises before entering the gym or studio.

If you have any questions or concerns about your emotions, let me know at and let’s set up a meeting to chat.

Be sure to look out for part-4 to this blog series on the eight core emotions next week. In the meantime, let us know what you thought of this article. If you have any suggestions for future articles, drop us an email at We’d love to connect with you.

Keep Growing

Dave Roebuck

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