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Being a gym newbie can be overwhelming. You’re anxious about not being in shape, you don’t know the equipment, and you’re sure you’re going to look incredibly . . . newbie.

Barbara Markway, PhD, a psychologist who’s written about shyness, social anxiety, and other forms of self-consciousness, believes you don’t need to give in to the fears. She shares these tips for the “gymtimidated”:

1. Dress in comfortable clothes, but don’t necessarily go big and baggy to hide your body. You have a right to be at any gym, as you are.

2. Remember that most people aren’t looking at you, your body, or how much you’re lifting. They’re more likely to be focused on themselves and their own efforts, Markway explains.

She adds that many people also feel admiration when they see those who are just starting out at the gym. And if you really look around, you’ll see a wide range of body types.

3. Focus on what you’re doing rather than what you think you look like. That is, really feel the effects of movement on your body. That not only relieves your self-consciousness; it helps you sense when you need to slow down, correct your form (to prevent injury), or stop for a break.

4. Give yourself time — and credit. You won’t lose your gym nerves or see results overnight. But you are showing up and taking care of yourself, and that’s cause for celebration.

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