It doesn’t matter if you’re making Equinox bank or risking tetanus with the rusty weights at your neighborhood Y—the gym can be a swirling mass of tension for someone with social anxiety. It’s an unnatural biosphere, an indoor muscle factory where people run miles in place on assembly lines and lift heavy metal objects while emitting lion sex noises. And it’s always crowded. How is the gym always crowded and most of our biceps are still vaguely detectable at best?
The gym as an institution poses a dilemma for a socially anxious person who loves working out—you have at least one of these people in your life, if you aren’t one yourself. And anxious people, especially, should be working out. But we don’t necessarily want to be at a CrossFit box high-fiving people who we’ll inevitably let down with our lackluster squat cleans. We don’t want to "work in" at the pull-up bar or chat at the smoothie bar.
So we're left with two choices: inject some swagger into our presence and fool people into thinking we're too far in the zone to socialize, or quit the gym altogether and work out solo. We’ve got gifts for whichever category your own personal socially anxious fitness enthusiast falls into.
Gifts That Say "Leave Me the F Alone" at the Gym
Nothing says “sorry I can’t hear you because Tha Carter V is fueling my beast mode” like a visible set of headphones. These things are sweat-resistant, compact, sturdy enough to hold their own in your gym bag and over-the-ear so everyone who has the slightest inclination to discuss the weather with you will be immediately discouraged. $199
Adidas Z.N.E. Fast Release Hoodie
My anxious trainer sources tell me a pulled-up hoodie is a great way to create your own bubble of personal space. Plus, it can’t hurt to 8-Mile it a little to give off that I Did Not Come Here to Play With You Clowns vibe. $84-120
Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Flexweave
Esoteric cross-training sneakers at the gym imply that you’re well-versed at anything and everything fitness-related—running, climbing, tug-of-war, sky diving (not because it’s too dangerous but because it’s too social—they strap another human to you, for shit’s sake). And they’re CrossFit branded and that’s like gender-neutral BDE currency at the bro-fest that is most gyms. $90-130
Under Armour RailFit Duffle
Stuff this thing with your hoodie, headphones, and whatever else you need in order to look like you’re training for the Hunger Games and have zero time or patience for socializing. It’s the most I-heart-the-gym-looking bag (minus the ugly) we’ve ever seen. $100
Gifts that Simulate the Gym in Your Own Home
Crossover Symmetry Hip & Core System
Ah, lower body workouts: so crucial to our posture and strength but not nearly crucial enough to do hip thrusts in public. You can tackle those and literally everything else to strengthen your legs and core with one band. It's fabric, not that flimsy, suspect-looking rubber. $45
Modern Movement Edge-Board Extension Trainer
Remember that innocuous looking rolling pin that was actually an intense AF ab workout? This is its monster mutant offspring. It's a full-body extension trainer linked to an app that guides you through 14 exercises targeting every muscle so hard you could eventually photoshop your body under Michael B. Jordan’s face and no one would know (unless, perhaps, you’re white and/or have breasts). The detachable phone-holder is for a workout-guiding video game that does not, thankfully, involve other people. $69
APL TechLoom Bliss
Cardio has been known to be beneficial for people with anxiety and depression, and these are made for running outside by your damn self. They’re water-resistant, light, and have a chic strap in lieu of laces, so a debilitating untied-lace-related injury will be one less thing on your list of worries. $200
Ninja Smart Screen Blender with FreshVac Technology
All you want is a post-workout smoothie, not the inevitable chat with a loquacious barista about the intricacies of pea versus hemp protein that will reveal your ghastly ineptitude at smoothiology. Go home to this blender with its comforting iPhone-esque screen that facilitates automatic pre-set recipe programs. Use whichever protein powder’s on sale (or get it how you live with a scoop of pistachio Talenti) free of judgment. $169
Vi AI Personal Trainer Headset
Socially anxious fitness-heads will be happy to know that the future of fitness is lonely as shit. It’ll just be you and some tech that doesn’t speak unless spoken to. That being said, AI personal training is a godsend for people who want to be guided and encouraged through a full workout without an unreasonably chiseled human standing entirely too close to them while they’re panting through a cardio burst. The Vi headset—that tracks your movements and guides you through structured, goal-oriented regimens of your design—comes with a training subscription but also sick audio capabilities for when the anxiety-positive trainer version of Alexa (we'll call her Celexa) gets too bossy and needs a time out. $149
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