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Gym anxiety is on the rise because of the “narcissistic behaviour” of others, according to a champion bodybuilder.

BodyByrne owner Paul Byrne said social media has led to unrealistic ideals of what gym goers should do and what they look like.

It comes as a study by Forbes Health found that getting into shape was this year’s most popular New Year’s resolution.

On Lunchtime Live, Mr Byrne hit out at gym culture in Ireland.

“Over the last couple of years gym anxiety is more common than it’s ever been and I put that down to social media,” he said.

“Fitness and health have become narcissistic now and everyone has to show their bodies off, how they lift and how they train.

“A lot of it is unrealistic and unsustainable stuff and in a lot of gyms now there are cameras on tripods everywhere which can be intimidating.”

Training gear

Mr Byrne said, “Some people just want to go in and train”.

“Girls don’t want to go in covered in makeup and wearing the latest training gear,” he said.

“They want to go in sweaty clothes, workout, look their worst, and get the best benefits from it – mental and physical health benefits.

“It’s not about who’s looking at me and how I look but that has unfortunately become part of the package of going to the gym in recent years.”


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There are nice people in gyms too, however, who are only delighted to help those just starting out.

“There are people there that are in shape, people called Gym Rats, who practically live there all the time,” said Mr Byrne.

“Don’t be afraid to ask these guys for help, a lot of people love to help others.

“It’s not that bad if you can just ignore the ones that are self-obsessed so just try to enjoy it because it has to be enjoyable.”

Start slow

Mr Byrne said it’s important to start slow.

“Start with the machines because you can’t really go wrong with machines,” he said.

“You can use the machines to get the muscles stronger first and it’s self-explanatory how to use them.

“It’s like learning to drive a car; you’re not going to jump behind a wheel and say, ‘Off I go.’”

Mr Byrne added there are always trainers around who are “dying” to give out tailored workout programmes – so don’t be afraid to ask.

Listen full episode here

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