Meet The Aussie Trainer Tackling The Issue Of Gym Anxiety With “Shy Girl” Workouts

Andy Brand specialises in training women and helping them gain confidence in the gym, combatting issues of gym anxiety and gym intimidation.

Though the benefits of strength training are common knowledge by this point, for many of us what prevents us from lifting the weights isn’t a lack of motivation, but rather a sense of intimidation. For many women who are new to the gym scene, entering your local gym can be a rather terrifying ordeal. From the “gym bros” who spend hours on a single piece of equipment, interrupting their tireless scrolling of their phone for a minute or two of deafening grunts, to the guys who provide a gym soundtrack of aggressive groans and the piercing rattle of the protein shaker, gaining the confidence to occupy space in such a venue and not feel a sense of judgement can be a tall order. 

Not surprisingly, this feeling of gym anxiety is more common than you might think. For a lot of women, such anxiety can extend from everything to what they’re wearing (raise your hand if you’ve ever felt the sudden dread that comes with discovering your leggings are see-through during a squat session), to how to use certain equipment and understanding correct form. But rather than power through or consult an expert, we simply remove ourselves from the gym entirely. 



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So pervasive is the issue that there’s even a TikTok hashtag that addresses it directly. “Shy girl” workouts have been trending on the platform, with the aim of busting this so-called “gym-timidation” many feel when entering the gym. The hashtag has amassed a staggering 142.5 million views, with videos that focus on simply yet effective exercises that require minimal equipment, meaning they can be done anywhere but for those in the gym, they’re especially useful for gaining confidence before moving onto more complex machines or equipment. 

Lack of confidence in the gym has prevented a number of women from getting into strength training, but trainers are now sitting up and paying attention. In the United States, there’s been a significant rise in the number of smaller, boutique-style gyms, aimed at assuaging any fears women might have when it comes to working out. These gyms, like Los Angeles’ Dogpound, value privacy and are a far cry from the gyms whose floor plan consists of rows and rows of machines, where finding an unpopulated space is impossible. 


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For Andy Brand, co-founder of Melbourne’s Cremorne Club, it’s exactly this reason that led him to create his private gym where he is focused on helping clients gain confidence. As he explained in an interview with, he doesn’t train influences or celebrities, but rather wants creatives and business-minded people to feel at home in the gym. “I try and make sure they have go-to exercises – simple exercises like lunges, variations of squats, exercises they can do on the spot.”

“That will put you at ease a little bit. A lot of gyms aren’t set up to make women feel comfortable – this gym is set up to make people feel comfortable,” says Brand. “A lot of people have got too dependent on watching videos of people working out that they get into the gym, they’re confused – and have watched too much Instagram content. You do need a balance of machines and free weights to train properly, you can’t just do Instagram workouts all the time – you’ll end up injured.”

So, just what exercises does Brand suggest starting with if you’re new to working out and strength training? As he suggests, start with the basic weighted lunge and sumo squat (a squat that uses a wide stance) to help build confidence. 

“And pick up a weighted ‘slam’ ball, it shows that you’re there to work out seriously. Get a set of dumbbells that you can do multiple exercises with. A band. A barbell. And set yourself up in the gym, where you feel comfortable.”

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