top of page

How I conquered college gym anxiety

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

POV: It’s the first couple weeks of your freshman or sophomore year and you decide you want to get fit now that you’re in college. You know the benefits of going to the gym by now; increased energy, focus, and self-confidence among others. Sounds great! But there’s a key issue: your college gym is terrifying.

Everyone looks like they know what they’re doing, and you don’t. There are too many people all making funny noises and look like they want to fight you, so you anxiously fast walk to treadmills where you can feel safe, or worse, you say NOPE and walk right out. It doesn’t have to be this way though.

The gym for beginners is not a fun place to be, especially if you haven’t been lucky enough to have a friend or family member show you the ropes. But there are solutions to these issues that are just emerging around college campuses. Let’s go through the seven most important methods and perspectives I’ve used to feel more confident and consistent inside the gym that every college student should know about.

1. Increase your fitness exposure

Before you even step into the gym, if you have social media accounts of any kind, consider following a few interesting fitness influencers. Consistently viewing the daily routines, workouts, and lifestyles of the internet's most athletic people, you’re subconsciously training your brain to feel more comfortable with those methods and practices.

2. Find music that motivates you

Remember when I said my first time in the gym everyone looked like they wanted to fight me? Well I've realized that was most likely because they were just blasting music in their airpods and were in the zone. Finding the right playlist that forces you to bop your head, tap your foot, or sing out loud is key to finding your comfort zone in the gym. If possible, set aside a specific playlist or genre of music that you almost exclusively listen to in the gym. This playlist will keep you focused on the goals you’re working toward and over time, you will associate those songs with sweating your ass off in the gym. The right music can also provide motivation on the days that it's not feeling easy to make the trip to the gym.

3. Try to find a gym partner

If you’re lucky enough to find an experienced friend who will show you how to use the equipment that you’re too intimidated to attempt to use, seize the opportunity. Having a friend and coach demonstrating every exercise right before you try it yourself will accelerate your learning and build your confidence so you can eventually shed your training wheels and do everything yourself. However, this solution is not in the cards for everyone, and that’s okay. There are other options to learn the basics right inside the gym.

4. Watch instructional videos on-demand in the gym

Traditionally, if you are one of those people who doesn’t have a friend to show you what to do, or your school doesn’t have quality personal trainers, you’re out of luck. If only there was a way to quickly access demonstrations from your phone, showing how to use the equipment that you’re too intimidated to even ask a staff member to explain.

Oh wait there is!!

It’s called Redprint, a fitness app that introduces a whole new concept for gyms: Interactive Fitness. If you go to a college that has Redprint installed you’ve hit the jackpot. Download the Redprint app from the app store (, and tap your phone against one of the Redprint tags placed on all equipment in your gym to instantly access instructional videos with trainers showing you how to use the equipment you’re confused about.

For example, you walk up to a confusing contraption that makes no sense at all, and the “how to” diagram (if there is one) doesn’t explain how to do anything at all, or even what the equipment is called. Using Redprint, all you have to do is tap your phone against the tag (just like apple pay) and you have access to an instructional video that shows how to use that equipment in detail, with tips and tricks to answer all your questions. Let’s say you don’t have Redprint in your gym, I don’t envy you… BUT, you could help bring Redprint to your gym by talking to the staff, a manager if you can find them, fellow gyms goers, and start spreading the word. The more demand, the faster we can install in your gym.

5. Make a habit of just showing up

It might sound weird, but if you just walk in the gym and work out for 5 minutes and then leave, that’s better than nothing. The key to reaching your physical goals is consistency, and half the battle with consistency is working up the courage to get up and make an appearance. The problem is, without being in the habit of going to the gym, it seems impossible if you’ve never done it before. So if you’re really having trouble staying consistent, take some pressure off and just show up and stay for as long as you feel comfortable. Even 5 minutes. Do this for about 4 weeks and before you know it, boom it’s a habit. Next step, actually picking up weights.

6. Track your progress

Whether it’s by taking a body check mirror selfie every week, writing down your statistics, wearing an apple watch that gives your vitals feedback, it just has to be some way of keeping measurements of your past self to compare to present day, tracking your progress shows how far you’ve come already and helps you stay motivated to keep that going.

In the beginning, motivation is your most valuable asset, but it’s scarce. Just like exposing yourself to fitness content, tracking your progress will help you maintain that motivation. Today there are several ways to track your progress; writing down your workouts in a notebook (super old school), wearing a fitness watch (if you want to know your heart rates, daily steps, and sleeping patterns), or using an app to track your workouts (sooo many apps). It just has to be some way of keeping measurements of your past self to compare to present day, tracking your progress shows how far you’ve come already and helps you stay motivated to keep that going. If you're interested in starting your fitness journey at the gym, I know just the solution... Redprint!

By tapping your phone against a Redprint tag in your gym, you can add that exercise to your log and track everything you need as you go. Tap and add, tap and add, etc. for every exercise, piece of cake. But we’re trying to eat healthy now so… piece of protein pancake.

7. Follow a workout

If you aren’t comfortable using equipment inside a gym, chances are you aren’t going to feel comfortable knowing which exercises to perform either. That’s where finding a workout to follow can come in handy. Lucky for you, I have a familiar solution (plug)!

Redprint! Yes, just when you thought they couldn’t possibly plug their app anymore, we did it. But don’t blame us, it's just because interactive fitness with Redprint makes the gym experience so much easier for beginners in many ways. On Redprint you have access to a workout marketplace where you can find workouts to download from experienced trainers and fitness enthusiasts who have the knowledge and experience you need to guide you in your beginning days.

If you follow these steps, it would be hard not to successfully develop a gym routine and reach your goals. In order to make a change, you have to actively adjust your practices and methods for long enough for it to become comfortable. That’s the part that is difficult to realize if you haven’t yet found your outlet for fitness, once you do it for about 4 weeks, going to the gym and working out transitions from being painful and difficult to work up motivation, to something you look forward to. Let’s get there together.

This all sounds great, but what if your gym doesn’t yet have Redprint installed yet? You can still use Redprint without the tags, it’s just a lot more manual and not quite as easy. So download Redprint anyway ( and in the meantime, let us know which college you attend by going to our website ( and we will make sure we include your schools on our list as soon as possible.


bottom of page