Poll: One Exercise You'd Never Do in Public?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  346 comments   :  31,004 Views

Do you have any exercises you really don't like to do when other people might see you?

I do.

In fact, at one time or another in my weight loss project, I've had a lot of them. When I was at my highest weight, it was swimming, or anything else that involved not wearing a shirt. Don't ask me why--it's not as though you couldn't tell how big I was when I was wearing a shirt.

When I took up stationary biking, I was always very careful, at first, to avoid the recumbent models and stick to the uprights. After catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror on a recumbent bike, I thought my body had the same basic shape as a Hershey's Kiss.

Even after I got down to my lowest weight, I hated to use an elliptical machine without wearing sweat pants. Whenever I built up to a good speed while wearing shorts, the loose skin on my legs started flapping so loud you could hear it on the other side of the gym.

I guess you could say that I had a pretty big problem with negative body-image, to put it mildly.

But things have gotten quite a bit better for me in this department, thankfully. These days, I rarely worry about how other people might see me enough to let that restrict my activity (otherwise, you'd never catch me riding my bike in compression shorts).

And it's not just because I've lost a lot of weight. It's because I made myself do the things that made me feel uncomfortably self-conscious, until it was no longer a problem. I think that's much more powerful than simply trying to talk yourself into accepting your body.

There's still one more challenge left on my list of activities I avoid, though. It's hula-hooping. For whatever reason, I just cannot get myself comfortable with the thought of hula-hooping in public. Even just doing it with my granddaughter when we're playing makes me uncomfortable.

So, I guess that's my next project. I'm going to learn how to hula hoop, and do it in public.

How about you? Do you have any activities you'd like to be able to do that make you uncomfortable to the point you avoid them?

Are you willing to try the "feel the shame and do it any way" approach, to see if that works for you?

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    I'm not crazy about pelvic thrusts...always embarrassing. - 6/15/2013   3:15:30 PM
    Depends on your definition of "public". I don't like to practice katas outside of the dojo but within the club I'm fine, even when I have to demonstrate something. Other than that, I don't care where I exercise. Anybody who doesn't like it, doesn't have to look :) - 6/15/2013   2:01:22 PM
  • 294
    I think most team sports like basketball, baseball, etc because I was a very big kid and adult and so I never learned how to play them. I'm still embarrassed by my abilities. - 6/15/2013   12:47:55 PM
    Push-ups - 6/15/2013   11:25:32 AM
  • 292
    I don't really have any too embarrassing, but there is a stretch I do for my lower back that makes me feel very self-conscious. You turn your feet in, stick your butt out, and lean to either side. I make sure my butt is facing the wall when I do this. XD - 6/15/2013   10:43:35 AM
  • 291
    I love how honest your blogs are, Coach Dean! For me, it's swimming--and that's because I can't tread water and therefore am afraid to swim for more than a few meters without starting to panic. - 6/15/2013   10:43:25 AM
  • 290
    I'm mostly embarrass-proof in the gym, but I never learned to dance. My domestic parter is a first-guy-on-the-dance-floor type, so I've had to conquer my discomfort with stepping around erratically and out of time with the music, because that's how I dance. (Although I hear they have lessons for that...hahaha!) - 6/15/2013   8:06:32 AM
    Pretty much anything. I go to the other room to my workout videos. - 6/15/2013   8:06:29 AM
  • 288
    I've decided something like basketball or volleyball or tennis; I am so bad at these sports I'd rather pass. I think a butt in the air pose like yoga would be a non-taker, too, but I don't see our little itty bitty town ever doing that....so I'm safe there, I guess!!! - 6/15/2013   7:45:32 AM
  • 287
    I'm on my way to do yoga in a park with a friend this morning. This will be a first for me so I'll find out just how uncomfortable I feel doing downward dog and other butt-in-the-air poses in public! But one thing that separates this journey I'm on from other weight-loss attempts is how public and open I've been about it. Not just exercise, but the choices I'm making and my progress. I work in a school and my students often ask me "how much have you lost now?" and one of them asked if they could go to my weekly weigh ins during the employee "biggest loser" competition so she could give me moral support. Providing an example of choosing a healthy life style to my students without embarrassment is a huge motivator for me. So when a student asks me to play "just dance" on the Wii, for instance, I go for it even though I know I look ridiculous!!! I give it my all and let them know in having fun, burning calories and enjoying spending free time with them!!

    It's hard to look silly in public but in general I think most people respect our actions rather than sneer at us. And for those people that do...well, their opinion isn't worth a nickel.
    - 6/15/2013   7:06:16 AM
  • 286
    Enjoyed reading this! Actually, the heavier the exerciser is the more I admire the person. I secretly cheer them on and hope they will continue. My only worry at my heaviest was breaking things, like popping the exercise ball for instance. The people at my gym are friendly and non-competitive but even if they were not, I would hold my head up high giving myself points for being elderly and overweight. - 6/15/2013   6:01:23 AM
  • MARIAM2167
    I'll do anything from hula hoop to Zumba fitness to burpees. No I'm not that thin or that fit. I just don't mind people. Gyms are for all sizes and shapes. Don't be embarrassed and dont let others have control of what u can and can't do in public. As long as ur not breaking any rules who cares what other think? I dnu that's just my 2 cents. I'm a first time commenter but I've lost 22 kg in almost a year with help from this site and I did it by being that fat girl at the gym shakin her butt in group classes and doing squats in front of the gym mirror andi have no regrets :) - 6/15/2013   5:14:10 AM
  • 284
    Swimming would be my number one even with my weight loss. I don't like jogging in public too much because of top heaviness. Riding a bike outside. I'm still working out getting that big girl mode out of my mind. :) I wouldn't do jumping jacks either lol. Now I'll do hula hooping...on my arms! Thanks! - 6/15/2013   1:05:18 AM
  • 283
    squats....honestly I don't even like to do them with my husband around, and we are doing the squat challenge so we do them a lot lately. - 6/14/2013   11:55:03 PM
  • 282
    Squats, no matter how high or low my weight is, I do those in the kitchen, alone. - 6/14/2013   11:48:40 PM
  • 281
    Pull ups:

    OK two and a half. - 6/14/2013   11:44:56 PM
  • 280
    Pretty much any of the strength training machines at the gym. I don't really know what I'm doing, and there are people in ridiculously strong shape every where. I usually go at night so there are fewer people and stare at the pictures to try to figure out how to use the machines. Hoping to get strong enough myself to not be so embarrassed! - 6/14/2013   11:43:36 PM
  • 279
    Sit ups I couldn't do them when I weighed 115# - 6/14/2013   11:42:59 PM
  • 278
    Definitely jumping jacks!! Who the heck invented that?? Gotta agree, that belly flopping while I doing that is just plain embarassing - 6/14/2013   9:57:44 PM
    I don't like to do butt thrusts in public while im laying down. Mortifying. LOL. Even when I do both leg lunges standing up and cant help but feel funny about it with my backside poking out.
    - 6/14/2013   9:26:00 PM
  • 276
    Prancercise. I'm gonna give that a pass.

    Otherwise, I'm game for just about anything. I don't take group classes because I have a crazy schedule and couldn't commit, but I've done them in the past and enjoyed them. I love just working out outdoors, too. - 6/14/2013   9:14:25 PM
    Zumba. I am uncoordinated (or at least feel that way) when I dance, so I avoid dancing. Most of the classes at the healthclub that are held in the room with the large windows facing the fitness floor are avoided, but zumba won't be attempted. - 6/14/2013   8:36:00 PM
  • 274
    I use to stay I would never do zumba in public but I worked up my nerve and went in December and haven't stopped since. There's woman all shapes and sizes in there and I was not the only big girl in the group. Now even women who are size 6 are impressed with how I keep up and move and I'm over 300lbs. So dont be scared and get out and try it. But one thing I am embarassed to do now is aqua fit but the same thing I'm saying to others about zumba I need to apply to myself to do aqua fit. Best of luck everyone! - 6/14/2013   8:24:32 PM
  • 273
    Jumping Jacks my chest gets in the way. - 6/14/2013   7:47:03 PM
  • 272
    jumping jacks! my belly is too flappy - 6/14/2013   7:33:55 PM
  • 271
    lunges, afraid I would look like a fool when I don't gracefully get back up. - 6/14/2013   7:27:01 PM
  • MTHORN01
    Anything that involves some kind of dancing - 6/14/2013   7:22:07 PM
  • 269
    I feel weird about lifting weights - mainly because I know I've got the correct form, but they're not the "heavy" weights. I'm a girl. I'm just getting started with the whole fitness lifestyle. But it's daunting to stand there doing bicep curls with a 5 or 10-pound weight and have a bunch of big, bulky men stand around grunting and huffing and dropping (big no-no, by the way!) all these humongous weights and you KNOW they are periodically staring at you - either checking you out positively ("Hey, she's cute"), or judging you negatively ("Silly girl...don't you know weight lifting is for big, strong men like me?!")

    But I like your point - to do it anyway BECAUSE it's uncomfortable. After a while, it won't be... I'm gonna have to think on that. ;) - 6/14/2013   6:51:28 PM
    I have a problem with doing Zumba and Body Pump in public. I have two left feet and I'm very slow at learning new things. At least at home I can hit rewind and do it five times before I move on. - 6/14/2013   6:26:37 PM
  • 267
    Running is not my favorite - 6/14/2013   6:02:34 PM
  • 266
    I agree with swimming in public - 6/14/2013   5:39:56 PM
  • 265
    i lucked out on swimming - ive been a swimmer all my life, even at my heaviest, and for whatever reason being in a swimsuit around other people has just never phased me; im used to it, i guess. i know i look terrible, but i cant bring myself to care. plus swimming is the one athletic activity that i EXCEL at. so i know people probably judge me in my suit, but as soon as i get in the water i know i can swim circles around a lot of people.

    when i first started running, i was very self-conscious, but that has faded as ive learned how to run properly, and no longer feel like im dying after thirty seconds. the absolute worst is any sort of follow-along exercise, like a video - i put my all into it, but there are a lot of the moves i just cant get right. i flop around and wheeze in the privacy of my own home, but id never do it in public. at least not until i get into better shape. thats kind of the beauty of not bothering with a gym, though - at home, only my cat judges me. and she licks her own butt, so im not all too worried about her opinion. - 6/14/2013   5:39:32 PM
  • 264
    I love swimming but I hate going because I hate the way I look in a swimsuit. I have hated being in a swimsuit since about when puberty hit and I gained weight and got curvy. Then for a short time when I was in my late teens early twenties, I didn't mind being in swimsuit in from of others. I had lost some weight and I thought I looked okay. But alas now again I really don't like they way a swimsuit shows my gut. I try to get them a little loser, but then they are way too big after they get stretched out being in the water. My body image is definitely something I need to work on. - 6/14/2013   5:36:08 PM
  • 263
    I have a really hard time swimming in public. But I remember being really sad because my mom would never swim with me when I was a girl, and I don't want my daughter (who LOVES to swim) to miss out. So I do it for her and try not to feel self-conscious. - 6/14/2013   4:56:28 PM
    I work out at the school where I work. I KNOW kids are watching, because it is basically funny to see the old lady teacher (especially the uncoordinated old lady teacher); I know they are judging (because that's part of being an adolescent), but I don't let it stop me...much. - 6/14/2013   4:51:37 PM
  • 261
    Any exercise where I have to stick my butt in the air! - 6/14/2013   4:43:23 PM
  • 260
    I used to feel like that about running because I always felt like I looked sooooo goofy when I was running. Now I can't really think of anything exercise-wise that I wouldn't do in front of people. There are a few things (like certain kinds of dancing) where I feel a little silly, but it won't stop me :) - 6/14/2013   4:41:05 PM
  • 259
    I refuse to do Zumba in public! I have a Zumba game for the Wii so I practice in the comfort of my own living room, by myself. If one of my parents walks into the room in the middle of my routine, all I keep thinking is "Go away, go away, don't look at me!" I'd like to try a Zumba class one day but I'm held back by my own conception of my dancing as being "awkward" and "clumsy." - 6/14/2013   4:37:43 PM
    I didn't love putting on a swimming suit and getting back in the pool when I weighed 300 pounds, but I did it anyhow. Honestly, I think that embarrassment is just an excuse...get over it and get moving!

    Maybe that is easier to say for those of us who are coordinated and know how to dance! I think I weighed about 260 when I started doing Zumba, and it never occurred to me that I shouldn’t do it because of my size. - 6/14/2013   4:24:17 PM
  • 257
    I'm a little hesitant to belly dance in public (especially if I am only practicing and not focusing on performing) but I still do it in my back yard where I'm sure the neighbors can see me - I just don't see them, so it doesn't bother me.

    Otherwise... I don't really give a damn. - 6/14/2013   4:23:34 PM
  • 256
    I'm probably one of the few that really should be more self conscious at the gym, particularly Zumba- I'm definitely the sweatiest, I'm the most overweight at least 90% of the time (I've seen 2-3 'bigger ladies' in the three months I've been doing it) I'm also not the most co-ordinated and sometimes I probably breath very heavy.

    Plus side- I don't think others stare at me (but I do get extra room to dance usually, bonus!), I almost feel that the instructor is even more encouraging (or I'm imaging it but it motivates me so meh) AND I'm starting to get comments about people wishing they could keep up with me. If you feel they're watching, you may as well put on a show ;) - 6/14/2013   3:53:33 PM
  • 255
    Hula Hooping and Running. - 6/14/2013   3:15:37 PM
  • 254
    I avoid any exercise class that has a mirror. And, I typically avoid running during daylight b/c I don't want other people to see how slow & overweight I feel. I am getting better at this though. I recently trained for and participated in a race all of which was during daylight hours. - 6/14/2013   3:11:43 PM
  • 253
    I've never worried about what I look like exercising in public. I figure if they don't like it they don't have to look! - 6/14/2013   3:09:58 PM
    I think I have to say I'm not real big on the group classes. It will be a challenge for me to overcome. - 6/14/2013   2:30:20 PM
  • 251
    Mine isn't so much an exercise as the fact that my STAMINA doesn't last. There is no way I could do more than 5 minutes of exercise before stopping to rest. Therefore I exercise to videos (parts of) at home or go for a short walk, but if it's gonna be without being fully clothed, I'm doin' it at home. - 6/14/2013   2:25:21 PM
  • 250
    I can do group classes, but the one thing I'm too scared to try is Zumba! When it comes to coordinated dancing, I have zero memory for it and tend to bump into people, which they do not appreciate. So, I just stay out of those classes as a favor others. ;-) - 6/14/2013   2:24:26 PM
  • 249
    Group Classes I'm terrified!
    PRETTY MUCH any strengh traning
    also squats - 6/14/2013   2:20:28 PM
  • 248
    I think most people have a little too much "spotlight syndrome" - they think the spotlight is always on them, people are always watching what they do, what they're eating, how they're exercising, etc. It's the feeling when you trip over something of "OMG, did everyone just see that?!"

    Now occasionally, people will notice something major (like if you trip and completely bust your butt on the sidewalk in a crowded area). But for the most part, I think you are noticed far less often than you think. When it comes down to it, most people are too self-consumed worrying about who's watching them to actively watch others!

    Also, we all tend to be more critical of ourselves than someone else, and we tend to remember our own mistakes, flubs and silly moments far longer than anyone else would. So even if someone did notice you doing a particular exercise, it's HIGHLY unlikely that they would be critical (unless they're just bitchy like that) and even more unlikely that they will remember you in 5 minutes.

    I try to keep these things in mind and not be self-conscious about doing anything in public. Not saying I'm always successful! Just saying that I think most people need to relax and do what they want and not worry about those around them. They probably don't notice you anyway... - 6/14/2013   2:17:05 PM
  • FISCHY19702
    Yoga... and it isn't because of how I look but because of what bodily functions may slip out when I'm upside down or butt in the air on some awkward pose lol. - 6/14/2013   1:54:30 PM

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