Overcoming Fitness Anxiety in the Public Eye

Overcoming Fitness Anxiety in the Public Eye

Key takeaways

  • 34% of people avoid working out in public due to body image concerns.
  • 23% of people avoid exercising in public for fear of being recorded or photographed on social media; TikTok is the top platform driving this anxiety. 
  • 49% of people think using cameras and smartphones should be banned at the gym. 
  • 24% of women avoid the gym because they don’t want to be approached or hit on. 

To gym or not to gym

If you’re hesitant to workout in public or have body image issues keeping you from hitting the gym—you’re not alone. There can be a lot of pressure to look a certain way and unfortunately, there is not much compassion for those with different body types—even when you’re working toward improved health and fitness. The weight of this judgment often results in the decision to exercise out of the public eye.

To explore the impact of societal pressure on fitness habits, we surveyed 1,006 people regarding their exercise preferences. In this article, we’ll explore the common anxieties people face when exercising in public spaces and how they overcome these challenges to achieve their fitness goals.

Feeling the heat

Summer is a fantastic season to soak up the sun and relish the great outdoors. However, many folks feel anxiety as they prepare to trade sweatshirts and jeans for swimsuits and cut-offs. How does the pursuit of the “summer body” affect exercise habits?

More than half of those surveyed (53%) were busy working on their “summer bodies,” and 28% started their summer fitness regimen before the new year even began. Women feel especially pressured to prep their bodies for summer, as 27% of women reported a moderate to large amount of pressure to do so, compared to just 15% of men.

Embarrassed to exercise? Looking at how many people feel pressure to have a "summer body".

The pressure to conform to certain beauty standards can make people self-conscious and reluctant to enter the gym. Roughly one-third (34%) of respondents admitted to avoiding the gym altogether due to concerns about their body image.

An additional 23% steered clear of public exercise for a different reason—fear of being recorded or photographed on social media. Over 80% of those who avoided public exercise due to social media named TikTok the primary culprit behind this anxiety-inducing trend. Almost 1 in 10 respondents had been photographed or videotaped without their consent while working out, and 46% felt violated by the incident. As a result, 49% of participants said gyms should ban cameras and smartphones to alleviate these concerns.

Home “sweat” home

To avoid unwanted publicity and uncomfortable body issues, many individuals find solace and convenience in exercising at home. With the flexibility to personalize workouts and the security of familiar surroundings, home workouts allow fitness enthusiasts to break a sweat without judgment.

Working out but staying in: Taking a look at most common workout locations and equipment

When it comes to working out, home sweet home was the preferred choice for more than half (54%) of those surveyed. An impressive 72% of respondents expressed confidence in fulfilling their fitness needs with at-home workouts. The most popular at-home exercise resources were body weight exercises (62%), weight sets or dumbbells (60%), and free workout videos (41%). As for the exercises people enjoy most at home, 48% preferred weight lifting, 43% body weight and mat exercises, and 30% cardio. People also enjoyed the equipment-free workouts of dance (20%) and Tai Chi or Qi Gong (3%).

For those who prefer private exercise but don’t want to be stuck inside, there are plenty of outdoor workout options. Running, cycling, hiking, and outdoor yoga are all great for improving personal fitness. Many neighborhoods and parks also offer fitness trails to help you burn calories in the fresh air. 


While some prefer the low-key workout space of home, others prefer commercial gyms for a wide range of equipment, access to expert guidance, and a community of like-minded individuals. Despite its intimidating appearance, the gym can offer a supportive environment to help lift your fitness level to new heights.

Gym Going: Is it appropriate to hit on strangers at the gym?

According to our survey, 56% of individuals enjoyed exercising in public spaces because it helped keep them fitness motivated. Moreover, for some, the gym became not just a place to break a sweat but a social hub; 13% of men and 10% of women had gone out with someone they met at the gym.

However, not everyone seeks a personal connection while working on their fitness. Roughly one-quarter of women (24%) actively avoided the gym due to unwanted attention, which was significantly higher than the mere 5% of men who reported the same. Individuals should respect personal space and the workout experience and remember that harassment is never okay. Despite these concerns, it’s encouraging to learn that 70% of respondents said they feel safe while exercising in public.

Choose your own fit-venture

The fitness world is diverse, with individuals choosing different paths to pursue their health goals. While some thrive in the vibrant atmosphere of public workout spaces, others find solace and convenience in the privacy of their homes or less-traveled outdoor spaces.

Regardless of your chosen setting, what truly matters is finding an approach that resonates with your personal preferences and needs—it’s the key is to staying motivated, focused, and consistent. So, embrace the fitness journey that speaks to you, and let your dedication guide you toward a healthier, happier, and more fulfilled life.


Velotric conducted a survey consisting of 1,006 people inquiring about their exercise habits. Of these respondents, 492 identified as men, 501 as women, and 13 as nonbinary. Respondents consisted of 107 baby boomers, 272 Generation Xers, 553 millennials, 72 Generation Zers, and two individuals from a generation older than baby boomers. All survey data shown above is self-reported.

About Velotric Bikes

Velotric Bikes offers powerful, dependable, and budget-friendly e-bikes for every type of rider. We aim to provide cyclists with a seamless and captivating e-bike journey, ensuring a thrilling and worry-free experience on the open road.

Fair use statement

We’d love for you to share our findings with your fellow fitness buffs for any noncommercial purposes. We just ask that you link back to this article so readers can access our full findings and methodology.

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