Fight or Flight – The White Coat Syndrome

Well lets start with what it is, after doing a study on new gym members and how they react to the very first steps in to a gym, a record of their heart rate and blood pressure was checked and it turns out it can be associated with the feelings of going to the doctors or the dentist…..In other words FEAR. But wait…


I first heard this analogy a few years ago when I was on a NLP course and it is true. Let us break this all down…

Gyms can be a law unto themselves, loud music, strange noises coming out of studio doors and a lot of sweaty people moving around. Well the music can work both ways, for example, if you are working hard and the odd strange noise creeps out then no one can hear it. However, if you are stuck under a machine or a weight and the only sound you can muster is the same as a mouse farting then your call for help will go unnoticed. People do make eye contact, sometimes to say “Hi” or believe it or not to see if you are ok. A smile and a nod of acknowledgement goes a long way. A lot of the time people are listening to their own jam to get through the workout. So no one is really waiting for you to say much or make any outrageous statement. “Hi” is fine and can lead on to a new friendship, you never know where it might go.

Is it just the blind man in the room but can any else see lots of mirrors???
Yes, gyms a have lots of mirrors and not all of them are for doing hair or make up. Not being sexist but women wear make up too…..(think about it!!)
Most of the looking glasses are going to be in the studios or near the weights area and for a good reason. It’s to check form or technique. Nothing more, it’s not a vanity thing. I’ve been lucky enough to work and train with bodybuilders and even Steve Nichols Mr. Scotland, who also got ranked in Mr Universe for a few years running. The guy had a 52 inch chest!! Anyway, he explained to me why and how important the mirrors are. You have people that put a lot of time and effort in to training and they want to make sure the right muscles are working in the right way. So if you have a PT or you know what you are doing then you’ll appreciate what this means. Watching your quads firing off as you do a lunge or a squat is important and also encouraging. In the studio the instructor can use the mirrors to see all around the room to check on every one. So even at the back then can make sure you are ok. Yes, once in a while you might come across some one who is not wearing much in the way of sporting clothing or are so colour coordinated that they belong in a brochure…yep a brochure. But you know what, let them get on with it!!

At the end of the day people are doing their own thing and and have a multitude of reasons for being there. Its a great place for people watching, and it can be he most positive new habit that you make.
Go to the gym or arrange a complimentary PT session by yourself, make an appointment for a gym induction or drag a friend along, and have fun changing your life! You don’t have to be the strongest, you don’t have to be the quickest, you just have to turn up. As you walk through the doors you write your own story. Remember, chances are the person you are standing next to in the queue for a class or a drink from the water fountain had the exactly same thoughts as you when they joined, so don’t think about it, just relax.

If you do feel apprehensive, the best way to start off is on a one to one basis with a PT. If its a distance thing or a financial thing, there is online training available. Check out for great value online offers – yeah get that plug in!. Working one to one can build up your confidence and understanding of training. This is why PTs do what they do, believe it or not, as a PT you feel proud when a client understands and knows what a rear delt fly is and how to do one!

No one thinks twice about going to a club, getting drunk, into an argument or a fight, being sick and waking up feeling like crap so why feel anything about doing the opposite – get healthy, get in shape whatever that may be and enjoy yourself.

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