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Anxiety about going to the gym sucks


On Black Friday I joined the YMCA. There was no joining fee. I have paid for my membership for the past three months and I have not gone once.

I don’t like when people look at me. I don’t want to wear the wrong clothes.

I have plans to go. Then I don’t go.

When I was ten, I took a ballet class. The class had already started, I wasn’t there the first day. And, the class I went to I arrived late. Everyone was already sitting on the floor stretching. I sat down and did what everyone else was doing. I pulled my feet together and tried to stretch my knees to the floor.

Everyone turned and looked at me.

I put my white sneakers together and tried to stretch my jeans to the floor.

The other girls had on leotards and ballet shoes.

I know I didn’t quit the class. I have only two memories from the class, the one I just described, and on the day of the final performance. I don’t remember going to the store to buy the right shoes, I don’t remember any of the classes, I don’t remember dancing on stage.

I remember the white sneakers on the first day, and I remember the teacher jerking my arm while I waited to go on stage as she placed me in the right place in line. I was wearing a pink leotard, a tutu, and pink ballet shoes.

I didn’t take the class again.

Yesterday I stood naked in my bathroom, weighed myself, and took all my measurements. A year from now, I will take my measurements again, and weigh myself again.

Under the question mark for the date, February 20th, 2018 I wrote, “I’ll be back.” Then I erased it.

Is the question mark a question about what I will weigh? Or is it a question about if I will change?


p.s. Tomorrow morning I have plans to go to the gym.

As always I love to hear from you. Click here to comment. HERE.


About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • La McCoy

    I dont like gyms ever.

  • Hey Pam! First of all, I honestly love the doodles in your site, and I’m inspired to get back to sketching myself.
    Anyway based on the post, it seems like anxiety has had a paralyzing effect on you, motivating you to go the gym and pulling you from it as well.
    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading. I’m definitely visiting again. Cheers 🙂

    • Hello Chen Tan,
      So nice to meet you. Have you done at sketches? Anxiety can really keep a person from trying new things. Talking about it helped me face it and get to the gym. I love to swim in the heated pool.
      I hope you are well.

  • EmFairley

    Pamela, you can do it, honey. We both can. I know how scary it can be, believe me. I’m just now back from the cardiologist and while I knew I’d put weight on, I didn’t realize how much. You don’t wanna know how high my BP was either. Eek! I knew lifestyle changes were needed, but I’m the same, lack of time is a huge factor for me. Because of that I used to do a “Walk at Home” program and will get back to that next week. I want and need to be around for my grandbaby.

    Em xoxo

    • Hello EmFairley,
      How was your last week walking? Isn’t it funny how the pounds can sneak up on us? I hope the walking got your blood pressure down. And a grandbaby! Congratulations!

      • EmFairley

        Unfortunately due to unexpected events I’m not yet back into the routine. That said, I have actioned other changes so will hopefully be seeing the benefits soon. How are you doing?
        Hugs, Em xoxo

  • Deanne Michelle Welsh

    It’s so scary getting started at the gym. I had a stressful year, packed on extra pounds and took a ‘break’ from working out… I’m just in my third week starting back. Every day I’m reminding myself that I want THIS (working out) to be the new normal. Even though I don’t follow the class instructions gracefully or fully for that matter, I’m showing up and going through the motions. I’m promising myself it will get easier… and three weeks in, I can even do a push up now 🙂 one! before I could do zero… baby steps. Thanks for sharing your story. It is always a blessing to know that the battle is real and that I’m not alone…

    • Hi Deanne Michelle Welsh,
      I have been saying, ever since I read your comment, “The battle is real and I am not alone.” Yes, working on a new normal. I would do better if I didn’t stay up really late writing to a procrastinated writing deadline.
      How are the push ups going? I do them in the shallow end of the heated pool. My legs float and I can focus on the arms.
      happy exercising!!

  • Melody Potter

    Pamela, I exercise by walking and it’s just as good as going to the gym, just not so stressful. I feel pressured around a lot of other people who are exercising. You obviously don’t want to go to the gym; so don’t. Melody

    • Hi Melody,
      Walking in the neighborhood is nice too. You helped me see I had a choice. Either I could have anxiety and not go to the gym, or I could go and learn to deal with it. I set up an appointment with someone to learn how to learn the machines. I didn’t fall off of anything and I didn’t die from people glancing at me.
      Admitting the fear helped me fight it.
      Hugs to you.

  • Saron Samuel

    I have never gone to gym but but my dad and older sister often do. I used to think that the gym and sports in general are for fat and obese people, but then now i come to understand that sports are very helpful to keep fit in general. Last time on our physical education class, our teacher made us do the ‘ sit up’ and i couldn’t continue after 7 rounds as my friends already done about 15. It was a shameful truth to know that i was not fit enough. Generally i would say any forms of exercises are good for us as long as they are recommended to keep us fit and healthy.
    xo xo
    Saron E. Samuel

    • Hello Saron Samuel,
      Have you done any sit ups since then? I have to remember I don’t have to go to the gym to exercise, sit-ups and walking is good exercise too.
      I hope you are well and keeping healthy.
      Starting, and action is what counts right? Not just talking about it.

  • I would say I’ll exercise and then I wouldn’t. Almost anything would take the place of exercise. And then my husband had a heart attack and that changed everything. He started rehab and I sat with the other women who watched their husbands move slowly on the machines. Still I was not at the gym. I watched. And then, we attended classes that were mandatory for those in rehab. And though it wasn’t mandatory for me, I chose to go. To go and to learn. We had already had the scare and heard words like “widow maker.” Now we had a choice to make, would history repeat itself, or would we change history? So we chose the latter.

    I watched as pounds dropped off my husband, but I decided to not be passive. I got us signed up with the program there. I did it.

    And now he is 50 pounds lighter and I am 30 pounds lighter. Am I done? No. I had let food become a substitute for dealing with things. His heart attack saved both of us.

    And now? I’m on my way to the place I work out.

    I want to be around. And I don’t want to be a grandma that gets too tired to play.

    Thanks for your post.

    • Hi Anne,
      Thank you for sharing your story. Yes, we have a choice to make don’t we. Choosing life and choosing to be still around with a healthy body to play with grandchildren. I don’t have any yet, but I want to be here when they are.
      Hugs to you, and congratulations on starting, and sticking with it!

  • MaryAnne Wassem

    Hi Pamela, Good for You! Making up your mind to do something is the best start to any new exercise plan. I applaud you. Now, I need to do the same thing. I try to walk around the track at my local high school. It’s absoluteley free…. but I need to stick-with-it. Sometimes going with a friend helps me keep the commitiment. Way to go girl.

    • Hi MaryAnne,
      Thank you for your encouragement. 🙂
      Walking around the track with a friend sounds nice. I will get my gym clothes ready today and write it in my appointment book. Then Pamela today can tell Pamela tomorrow what to do. Starting scared, but starting.