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Fear of being judged about exercising one of the top 10 biggest causes of “gym-phobia” among women

Around three in every ten women have been put off going to the gym because they fear being judged, according to new statistics released as part of the British Heart Foundation’s new MyMarathon challenge.

Most of us can come up with a plethora of excuses not to go to the gym or exercise. But a BHF poll has revealed that aside from membership costs one of the main reasons women avoid going to the gym is feeling embarrassed and worried about what other gym goers will think of them when they exercise.

Top of the list was feeling intimidated by the competitiveness of other gym bunnies with 33% of women saying it was enough to stop them going compared to just 19% of men. Almost a quarter of women (22%) said not feeling fit enough to go to the gym was one of the main barriers to exercising as well as not knowing how or having confidence to use the machines (27%).

Other gym pet peeves included people showing off at the gym, regulars always taking over the equipment, as well as people wearing lycra and grunting.

But you don’t have to be a slave to the gym to be more active. The BHF is challenging the nation to take on its brand new MyMarathon challenge to conquer 26.2miles over the month of May and help fund life saving research.

Runners can complete the challenge this May in a way that’s a challenge for them. Whether it’s at the park, during lunchbreaks or around the streets with friends by your side. Over a few days, a couple of weeks or the whole month – You decide the pace and you decide the place.

Sign up for free at www.bhf.org.uk/mymarathon

Lucy Wilkinson, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Keeping active is vital to help improve your heart health, so it is concerning that what’s putting so many women off exercise is a fear of being judged about how they look and their level of fitness, and feeling self-conscious around others when exercising.

“Women should feel proud to exercise knowing they are helping to keep their hearts strong. And now with the MyMarathon challenge you don’t have to be a slave to the gym. You decide the pace and you decide the place, so it’s a great way to get active without feeling intimidated, and help us beat heart disease.”

Heart and circulatory disease affects around 7million people in the UK and is responsible for around 155,000 deaths each year – around one person every three minutes.

Every pound raised from MyMarathon will help the BHF fulfil its ambition to fund half a billion pounds of new research in the next five years, to revolutionise and accelerate the fight against heart disease.

Top 10 reasons women are put off going to the gym:

  1. Feeling intimidated by other fitter/competitive people – 33%
  2. Feeling embarrassed or worried of what people think of me when I exercise – 29%
  3. Not knowing how to use the machines – 27%
  4. Not feeling fit enough to start going to the gym – 22%
  5. People showing off at the gym – 19%
  6. Regulars always taking over the gym – 19%
  7. People who wear lyrca – 16%
  8. The smell of people at the gym – 11%
  9. Getting injured using one of the machines – 9%
  10. People grunting at the gym – 7%