The Rise of Gymphobia in Australia

“Research shows how dominant a role anxiety now assumes in the way we approach health and well-being. Fear of judgement has been the main attributing factor to the rise in gym related anxieties. ”

Have you ever been afraid or anxious going to the gym? Imagine not being able to bring yourself to workout because of a grippling sense of fear and overwhelming sensations brought by anxiety. A new research has proven fear and anxiety is affecting the way Australians work out. The rise of ‘Gymphobia’ unveils gym induced anxiety nationwide. New consumer research released by Curves Australia concludes Aussies are failing to exercise for fear of being judged over their appearance, ability and dress sense. 

Some of the research findings include: 

  • Australians are failing to exercise for fear of being judged over their appearance, ability and dress sense. 
  • 46% of Aussies admit to experiencing anxiety whilst exercising in public 
  • Over a third (38%) of Australians fear looking silly in front of people 
  • Half (50%) of Aussies admit they are scared to go to the gym because they don’t look good in spandex
  • Over a third of men & women (36%) admit that anxiety has prevented them from ever stepping foot inside a gym, and over two thirds still avoid going to the gym 
  • 18-24 yr olds most prone to gym induced anxiety
  • A fifth (20%) of Australians consider themselves ‘Gymphobes’ 


 

The survey of over 1,200 Australians and New Zealanders has unearthed a severe anxiety complex with almost half (46%) of Aussies admitting to experiencing gym-induced anxiety. Over a third of men and women (36%) admit that anxiety has prevented them from ever stepping foot inside a gym, and over two thirds still avoid going today. Barriers identified in preventing Australians from exercising in public included, fear of being hurt (63%), wearing unsuitable gym attire, (50%) and not looking good in gym gear while working out (53%). 

Once at the gym, the main course of anxiety during a workout is looking "silly in front of other gym goers" in NSW, VIC, QLD and SA. With WA and ACT bucking the trend and polling strong on not knowing what to do with the equipment. Those in NT found the crowds confronting and those surveyed in Tassie felt the pressure to look good in gym gear as the strongest fear around public exercise. 

Clinical Psychologist Bernadette Bywater said, “The research shows how dominant a role anxiety now assumes in the way we approach health and well-being. Fear of judgment has been the main attributing factor to the rise in gym related anxieties. Most concerning is the impact we’re seeing in the younger generation, 18-24 year olds being the most prone to gym induced anxiety.”

Research revealed 69% of those aged between 18-24 have experienced gym anxiety at some point in their life compared to 34% from those aged between 45-69. Bywater continues, “Current media and celebrity status are all contributing factors to the constant pressure among young people to look a certain way.”

Further findings confirmed females are 56% more likely than males to experience anxiety about attending a gym and 38% more likely to label themselves as a gymphobes compared with men. 

Committed to strengthening women, Curves Australia is encouraging ladies to take a positive step forward to a healthier lifestyle. Known for its unique 30-minute total body workout, the women’s only gym will be launching Australia’s first gym therapy classes to tackle ‘gymphobia.’ 

Selina Bridge, Marketing Manager of Curves Oceania says, “We’ve seen a high level of members who have been affected by some form of gym induced anxiety in the past. Our clubs have been designed to assist in making their transition back (or for the first time) into group exercise a liberating one. We pride ourselves on personal service.” 

Curves Australia will be offering the first gym therapy classes this winter for members of the public suffering from Gymphobia. The classes will provide tips for dealing with gym induced anxiety with the aim to re-introduce Australians to a healthy lifestyle and most importantly rediscover self-confidence. Bridge continues “with a Curves Coach on hand at every circuit to teach and motivate, this is important to ensure that each member is confident using the equipment but also feel less self-conscious and more included. There have been some inspirational fitness journeys from women of all sizes and ages that have thrived in the unique and supportive community of women that Curves Clubs foster.”