Gym intimidation keeps some men from working out

Published On: Jan 04 2013 12:22:11 PM EST

Many people have made a New Year's resolution to get in shape in 2013 but some are just too shy to head to the gym.

You could call it gym intimidation and the trend is on the rise.

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In January, Nautilus will launch a new home-exercise tool designed solely for men. Nautilus topped a recently published Forbes Magazine list of the best 2012 sports stocks (with an annual growth of 106 percent), and company officials cite, in part, the growing preference among males to pump up in private.

"More men are starting to work out at home," Nautilus spokesman John Fread told MSNBC. "When you’re going to that gym, especially if you've never been before, you’ve got body comparisons. Women do it. Men do it."

"You’re looking at those people around you who may have already achieved their fitness goals, and that’s a really intimidating thing," Fread added. "Walking into a space with mirrors all the way around sort of reminds you that maybe you’re not where you want to be."

Women also intimidated

Women also weather waves of intimidation while in the gym and, according to a recent study, some young women try to compensate for that by purposely exercising close to females who appear to be less fit by comparison.

"The feeling of intimidation is likely quite similar for men and women, varying in intensity, of course, depending on how extreme the (negative, self-assessing) thoughts become. But the triggers can certainly be different," said Dr. Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

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"I would also predict that both genders would prefer to exercise near less-fit people," Rego said, "as making this type of comparison is often a useful coping strategy for dealing with difficult feelings and to help tolerate the things we can't immediately change," like our size and shape.

"People are often their own worst critics. In other words, while they may be viewed as 'intimidating' to others around them (due to some attractive part of their physical appearance), their own thoughts about themselves (and certain pieces of their own bodies that they dislike) could still lead them to feel self-conscious or intimated by others. It's not about reality - it's about what we think that shapes our reality."

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