Toronto, ON – Two in five (40%) Canadians find working out at a gym to be intimidating, including one in five (19%) who find it to be very intimidating, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of GoodLife Fitness and ParticipACTION. In fact, more Canadians find going to the gym very intimidating than say the first day of school or work (17%) or meeting their in-laws (12%) is very intimidating.
Focusing specifically on the intimidation factor of going to the gym, one full half (50%) of women are intimidated by going to the gym to work out, compared to only 28% of men who say the same. Young adults aged 18 to 34 are most intimidated (45%) compared to those aged 35 to 54 (39%) or 55+ (37%). Regionally, British Columbians (51%) are most likely to be intimidated by going to the gym for a workout, followed by those in Atlantic Canada (47%), Alberta (44%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (38%), Ontario (36%) and Quebec (36%).
Thinking about why four in ten (40%) find going to the gym intimidating, the main reason cited is that they’re afraid other people will watch them (38%) or that they don’t know what they’re doing (33%). Others say they’re intimidated because they don’t know anyone (30%), that they’re too overweight to go to a gym (28%), that people like them don’t go to gyms (16%) or that the gym regulars are intimidating or not nice (14%). One in ten (7%) are afraid they’ll hurt themselves, while 6% say there is some other reason they find the gym intimidating.
Women (44%) are more afraid than men (29%) that others will watch them, and they’re also more likely to think that they’re too overweight or unfit to go to the gym (31% of women vs. 23% of men). Those aged 18 to 34 (49%) and 35 to 54 (46%) are more concerned than those aged 55+ (18%) that other people will watch them, and younger people are also more likely (22%) than those 35 to 54 (10%) or 55+ (12%) to believe that the gym regulars are intimidating or not nice.
Among those who are intimidated, regionally, those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (52%) and BC (41%) are much more likely than the national average (33%) to say they’re intimidated because they don’t know what they’re doing, while this is much less of a concern in Quebec (23%) and Alberta (25%). Quebecers, on the other hand, are more likely to be intimidated if they don’t know anyone there (38%), while just 20% of Atlantic Canadians say the same. British Columbians (23%) are more likely than the national average (16%) to say that people like them don’t go to gyms and that’s why they’re intimidated.
Reflecting on what would make the gym less intimidating, a majority (52%) of those who are intimidated say going with a friend would make it a less intimidating place, while three in ten (30%) say getting to know some of the people who go there would make it less intimidating. Others say that knowing how to use the equipment (28%), having a personal trainer (22%), or going to a class (17%) would help. Three in ten (29%) women say that going to a women-only gym would make the task less intimidating. However, one in ten (13%) say that nothing would make the gym less intimidating.
Those aged 18 to 34 are more likely to say that most of these things would make the gym less intimidating, compared to those aged 35 to 54 or 55+, including: going with a friend (63% vs. 50% vs. 44%, respectively), getting to know some people who go there (35% vs. 31% vs. 24%), knowing how to use the equipment (34% vs. 26% vs. 26%), and going to a class (21% vs. 13%, vs. 19%). Interestingly, two in ten (21%) aged 55+ say that nothing would make the gym less intimidating.
Quebecers (39%) are most likely to say that getting to know some people who go the gym would make it less intimidating (compared to 30% national average), while residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (38%) are most likely to say that knowing how to use the equipment would do the trick (compared to 28% national average).
Residents of British Columbia (21%) and Alberta (20%) are most likely to confess that nothing would make the gym more intimidating, while those in Quebec (12%), Ontario (11%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (10%) and Atlantic Canada (4%) are much less likely to say so.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between March 25 and 29, 2016, on behalf of GoodLife Fitness and ParticipACTION. For this survey, a sample of 1504 Canadians from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ - 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
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