I can totally relate to how your feeling. I just recently starting going back to the gym about a month ago and 30lbs heavier than the last time I was there. I was really embarrassed about barely being able to do 30 minutes on the bike at level 1. Now I'm up to 60 minutes on the bike at level 4 or 5 and doing 40 minutes on the elliptical. What really made me realize I shouldn't be self conscious was my first Zumba class at the gym. I was so shy and so worried about not doing it right that I almost didn't go...but now I'm glad I did. The ladies in the class are so nice and some of them are just as uncoordinated as me. But the one thing we have in common is that we are having fun and getting in some cardio. You just have to remember why you are going there. It's not to look good for them or to impress them...it's to improve yourself and feel better about yourself!
Listen to me ladies- until you get over this feeling, you are not truly dedicated to getting in the best shape possible. I too used to feel this way, but one day i just stopped worrying about what others thought of me so much. Gym time is ME time, i put on my headphones, blast the music and focus on working on myself. I just tune everyone around me out and work on me. That is what you have to do, otherwise you will just keep using this as an excuse NOT TO GO! You are not truly committed until you stop making silly excuses. Don't be embarrassed to go to the gym! Just don't! The gym is where you go to change whatever is making you feel embarrassed in the first place!
I agree with most of the comments here. You just have to work thru it and concentrate on working out yourself. That is what the others are doing. There's this one older guy in our gym whose always working out and lifting huge amounts. But he always stops to give pointers, help or encouragements to other. And I heard him say how he started out over wt and lifting very little. You can see the guys really work harder after he talks to them.
Just don't go: go outside or get your own equipment for home use.
Fitness Minutes: (11,634)
1,695 11/7/10 8:15 A
You totally need to get your head into the game. YOU, who are just getting into shape, are burning more fat then they are! You are working harder to wake up those lazy muscles and get into shape. If they are thinking anything, it's most likely: "look at her working so hard, good for her!".....if they are thinking anything negative it just means they are shallow inhumane workout addicts. Just go to the gym and do your thing, be happy!
It's weird that we should feel embarrassed about being seen at the gym. What better place should we be if we are overweight and out of shape? At least it shows we're not in denial anymore and we're trying to overcome the problem. Besides, we need to be honest with ourselves. Is that really why we don't want to go to the gym? Do we really care that much about what total strangers think about us? If this line of argument holds true, then their thinking would have influenced me and helped prohibit me from packing on all those pounds. I obviously didn't care much about what they thought then, so what they think isn't going to stop me now from getting back in shape. Focus all your attention on your goal and block out all those counterproductive thoughts.
Fitness Minutes: (222,722)
12,423 11/7/10 7:10 A
I never felt embarrassed there--- figure I have every right to be there too-
I used to be one of those totally fit, very muscular people. And if I saw someone who was overweight or obese working out, all I thought was - good for them. I hope they feel that the exercise is a good thing cause I love it.
I'm now someone who is no longer as fit as I was, but I go to the gym anyway. And yes, sometimes I wish I had that old body...but I'm working on getting more fit and that's all that matters. I still internally cheer on anyone who is there no matter what their size. And if someone looks at me or anyone else in scorn, then that's more about them than about me...they have the problem and I feel sorry for them for being so closed up.
Fitness Minutes: (277)
7 11/7/10 4:53 A
that you are able to switch this off is awesome and totally enviable :D
Fitness Minutes: (277)
7 11/7/10 4:52 A
I joined a gym here about a year and a half ago and have sort of up and downed as to my attendance and enthusiasm. I never feel embaressed when working out, even on my non intense days out the window you can see a busy food court, so working out feels empowering - but because it is a smallish gym and my attendance is patchy I feel embaressed when I miss to many days, and it sometimes puts me off going back for a while, then one day turns into a week, and then almost a month can go by before I am brave enough to venture back.
Probably mostly just my brain trying to make excuses... but I do find it acutely embaressing :-)
I don't feel embarrassed, but today I found it kind of humorous when I was struggling through 3 sets of standing dumbbell curls with 12.5 lb weights, standing next to some guy with GIANT muscles all over his body, who was pumping some inhuman amount of weight like it was nothing. I found myself wondering what he was thinking about me, and then I just noticed that I was having these thoughts, let them go, and kept right on doing what I was doing: getting more fit and stronger!
Fitness Minutes: (6,500)
18 11/7/10 2:14 A
I was embarrassed when I first started going, but I soon realized that everyone is really concentrating on themselves, especially when most people wear headphones and they're all tuned in to their music.
One time, though, the woman on the bicycle next to me was pedaling REALLY slow, and I thought, boy, she's not going to accomplish anything at that pace! I happened to look over as she finished her time, and saw that she was riding at a level 12 or 15 (out of 20), while I was pedaling like crazy at about level 3. So I learned that things are not always what they seem!
Fitness Minutes: (18,599)
257 11/7/10 1:12 A
I can so relate to your post.
When I first started going to the gym it had been 22 years since I had faced a group exercise scenario(not since freshman PE in high school). I had worked my way from a size 24 (at 5'2") down to a 12 before I braved it and still felt VERY self conscious. The gym I went to was owned by the hospital I work at and there were all different shapes, sizes, and ages there.
It took me a few weeks to work through these feelings and to enjoy going there. After all of my self doubts I found that everyone there was very supportive. Many of them had faced the same challenges at some point in time and were very helpful when it came to training advice.
I had to stop going because I developed a topical allergy to the cleaners the gym used on all the equipment was devastated. I still see some of the others I used to work out beside and they are still supportive. They continue to comment on my progress and encourage me to continue.
You want to hear the end of the story to date. I went from that size 24 woman who ended up in a wheelchair at Disneyland at the age of at the age of 32 because she couldn't walk for very long to a size 1 in juniors at the age of 41. That doesn't mean I am done yet. I still need to build my endurance and continue on this journey to becoming as healthy as I can.
Keep doing what you are doing. Put on your gym clothes and your headphones and do your thing! You are there for all the right reasons and you can do it!
Fitness Minutes: (43,843)
11/7/10 1:37 A
I can totally relate to this. When I first started going to the gym, I felt physically nauseous because I was so self-conscious. Being self-conscious definitely decreased as I lost weight (although I do still feel that way on occasion), but it also decreased as I felt more comfortable using the machines and getting used to exercising.
I used to feel like the fattest person in the place. Now I see people that are larger than I am now and wonder if they're as self-conscious as I used to be. When I look at them, I don't feel holier-than-thou or disgusted; I remember how it was for me, and I think "Good for them."
Edited by: STARDUSTD at: 11/7/2010 (01:39)
Fitness Minutes: (30,218)
11/7/10 12:25 A
And yeah, nearly everyone there is working on themselves ... and if they have enough thought to negatively judge you then 1) they're not working out hard enough and, 2) it's one of those "consider the source" kind of comments.
I admire EVERYONE who is at the gym TRULY working out (vs. showing off vs. trying to hit on/or be hit on by others), even if I don't look at people or show it.
It's a GYM, we're WORKING. Honestly, sometimes I think more work gets done there than in an office ...
Fitness Minutes: (30,218)
11/7/10 12:19 A
I'm now a skinny girl and can do a heck of a workout .... but I didn't used to be.
When you're working out next to these girls you've no idea who they are or what's going on ... just focus on your own routine.
And honestly, I stopped going to a gym because between fighting to use the equipment (one time I waited literally 2 hours to use a machine ... and some girl just came up and erased everyone's wait-list names ... though we were sitting right there ... and the staff did nothing), and the comments from others .... just because you're not 787 lbs doesn't mean you are fit .... recovering from surgery I was thrilled to have done what I did but was beaten up (and literally slapped) by people at the gym ...
I work out alone now.
Anyway .... you don't know people's back stories. Honestly as someone who has never reached the 200 lb point I am THRILLED and send major energetic kudos, to anyone who is overweight and comes to the gym.
You might see me now ... with new sizing I'm a 00 I suppose ... but you don't know of the struggles or hell I went through ....
So ... don't worry about it ... go to a gym where you can work out and feel comfortable. Some gyms feel more comfortable than others - and it's not just "This Name" over "That Name" - each physical location has it's own feel.
So go, work out, see how you feel when you're there - and remember ... those skinnies may have been fatties once.
I remember feeling the same way the first time I went to the gym, because I felt like everyone was staring at me, but now I go do what have to and go on about my business and don't worry about anybody else.Be proud of what you are doing and hold your head up high!
11/6/10 11:17 P
Thank you everyone for responding! I read every response and it's very reassuring and makes me feel a little better. Sometimes I feel like oh man I'm walking past these people... I need to suck my stomach in so they don't see my bulging out. I feel so self conscious there because my gym clothes are fitted. I should realize that they aren't analyzing my size and are just focused on themselves.
I love going to the gym and the one thing I don't do is worry about other people. Each person is at the gym to improve themselves for whatever their personal reasons are. Everybody starts at different fitness levels. However, in the end we all get better and stronger.
Fitness Minutes: (19,794)
1,223 11/6/10 9:12 P
know that you are there to work on your health!! also, if you go at the same time you'll start to get to know some of these people and find that they are all rooting for you! That's been my experience anyway. I go to the gym at the same time (more or less) each week though the times on the days may be different and I've started to talk to some of the other patrons because we always see each other.
I've found that they are rooting for me and celebrating my victories with me just like I root for and celebrate their victories.
I'm also guilty at times of projecting onto other people what I think they are thinking about me and my body. I'm finding that I am rarely right about that.
Take pride in the fact that you are doing an amazing thing for your health and your body and focus on what your body can do!
11/6/10 8:55 P
Ok, so here's a response from one of 'those' girls that you think is judging you: * I'm not watching you, I'm too busy trying not to pass out * I'm going 'mach-10' because I've been working on building my endurance * 6 months ago I could not do 10 mins without wanting to die * just because I am considered small now, it was not always the case - I've worked hard to get to this point, and honestly it's a struggle many days to stay here Don't forget - a lot of smaller people are 'skinny fat'. We might be working on improving our endurance and building muscles. Or we might have food issues that we try and compensate for by working out like fools. We're not there to show off our size 2 bums for 20 minutes and laugh at people that are bigger than we are. Sorry if this response comes off as mean or rude, but it is really frustrating when people assume that just because you are smaller it's all sunshine and roses. And please don't assume that a smaller person doesn't feel self conscious at the gym or wonder if people are looking at them too. Self image issues don't automatically disappear with your dress sizes.
As someone who used to feel this way about the "skinny girls" and is (probably) now one of those people who others look at and feel the way you do, I've experienced both sides of this. While I'm no size 2, I can definitely say that I'm more focused on myself and how my body feels during intense work outs. I don't compare myself to those next to me on the treadmill or elliptical unless they're faster than I am - it pushes me to try to keep up! I'd never look at someone and think, "Wow, they're really slow." There's always a reason for a slower pace - whether it's an injury, feeling off, or just not being ready to run that 8-minute mile, don't sweat it. The fact that you're at the gym working out and not elbow-deep in a bag of chips alone is a reason to smile and pat yourself on the back.
However, if you still feel like others are looking at you with a critical eye, just know that you're on your way to being able to keep up with them. And smile at those "skinny" gym rats - they're there for the same reason you are. If they're still getting to you, maybe you should crank up your intensity so you're too distracted to let them bother you. You'll be better for it! ;)
11/6/10 7:50 P
I never gave up swimming even when I was at my heaviest in a size 24 to 26 swim suit. I just didn't look at myself in the mirror too much.
At least I didn't give up cause I was worried how I looked and what other people thought....when I was that heavy I was used to people staring at me other places, too.
I kind of know how you feel. I feel like LEIGHSABEE. I'm such a perfectionist that I hate working out at the gym. I'm at my goal weight, but I worry that I'm not as fit as other people, so I never go to the gym even though I have access to one. Instead I work out at home. I have a trainer that comes twice a week to do strength training with me and then I either run on the treadmill or outside for cardio. My husband is trying to convince me to go try a spin class, but I told him that I need to practice on the spin bike at home before I go to the class, so that I'm sure that I can keep up.
Fitness Minutes: (2,120)
11/6/10 7:08 P
Turn your MP3 up and don't worry about it :) Most people aren't worried about how anyone else looks, they just worry about themselves and their own workout.
I used to feel that way years ago too. But, let me tell you something: "Good people" will always be happy to see other people working out and who cares what "bad people" think. Right? Every time I see someone exercising, I think "Good for them!"; especially when it is someone who is a bit older or a bit bigger. I love to see it. I see someone in their 70's or 80's exercising and I think: "I hope that is me some day!". Be proud and do it for you! You're the only one who matters.
Fitness Minutes: (2,168)
51 11/6/10 6:29 P
I totally understand what you're saying. It's not even just the little girls, it's the older people that make me feel especially out of shape. Headphones are my security blanket. I just put them on and look at the screen and focus on what I'm doing. I also try to get a lot of my planning and scheduling done in my head while working out, doing cardio. It just helps to get out of my head. FWIW, I used to work out with a much thinner friend and she was totally in her own zone when she was running or on the elliptical. Everyone really just kind of focuses on themselves.
I don't worry anyone else when I'm working out. I pay my money just like anyone else does, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.
Fitness Minutes: (4,545)
925 11/6/10 5:40 P
See I know I am more athletic than some of those skinny girls...last week by the time I hit 30 minutes on my arc trainer 3 separate girls were gone from the steppers or treadmill that started AFTER me...I just wear clothing I feel good in (loose so when I sweat I don't have to pull at them)...and plug in some headphones and rock out..sometimes I find myself dancing on the treadmill haha
Fitness Minutes: (12,750)
352 11/6/10 5:37 P
Personally, I think that people are more focused on themselves to be looking and thinking about others. While I do see others at the gym, I don't really give them any thought and I figure they are thinking the same thing.
Congrats on getting out to the gym!
11/6/10 5:31 P
i use the gym at work and it took me a while to get in there-not because of other people in it but there's big windows and the people in the smoke shack outside can see in at night(i work nights). i didn't want them laughing at me but i finally realized that if i was in the gym i was getting healthier and they were just damaging their lungs even more while laughing at me. so now i laugh at them and ignore the fact that they are out there. My point is that you are going to the gym to make yourself healthier and you should be proud of yourself for that. there is nothing embarrassing about it. it's amazing. all those "skinny" girls are doing are KEEPING themselves fit and healthy. just be positive and proud you are doing something good for yourself.
I have to agree with the previous posts-good for you getting into the gym regularly! Most people are too focused on thier own workouts to even concern themselves with what shape other members are in. My experience is that most people want to help you reach your goals and are happy to see someone else follow the path to fitness.
Going to the gym I am in the i do not care what they think mind frame cause we are all there trying to accomplish one thing to either work on our weight or to build body mass. So if they do not like how I look at the gym be it. I rather focus on what they think outside the gym.
You know the really dumb thing? EVERYONE at the gym feels embarrassed in their own way! The gym is a place for self-absorption, and if you asked ANYONE there if they were happy with the shape that they're in, you'd find hardly a soul who would say yes... We all have something to lose or gain in the gym: whether it's losing pounds, flab or inches, or gaining muscle tone, a healthier heart or a better sense of self, we're all at the gym for self-improvement!
Ironically, I feel much LESS self-conscious running on the treadmill at the gym than if I were to do it around my own neighborhood....
I'm not ashamed. I just assume if they are looking at me and thinking anything it is, "Look at how hard she is working!" LOL I see the same people at the gym all the time because I go at the same time every morning 6 days a week. There is everything from the size 2 young woman running next to me to the 90 something year old man barely walking on the other side.
Sometimes I just worry that I sweat more than everyone else at the gym haha but most of the time I'm proud of myself for working myself so hard.
11/6/10 4:33 P
I can't count the number of times I have used the excuse that I am too out of shape to go to the gym. In fact, I still won't work out in a place with a lot of people and I'm not sure I ever will feel comfortable doing so. Because I haven't been able to shake that embarrassment, I have found other ways and other places to exercise. The last job I worked at had a gym on-site that I would use after everyone else went home. I recently purchased an inexpensive treadmill, a fit ball, and resistance bands and created a home gym.
Then again, I think this fear came from working out at a gym where people really were there to stare... the fitness center at the college I went to was a meat market. After going a few times, I never wanted to step foot inside a gym again. Nothing like having football players stare at your butt while you try to run on a treadmill. I think everyone else in this thread must be right, at any normal gym people are there for their own benefit, not to laugh at you or judge you. Still doesn't make me want to buy a gym membership though, now that I have figured out how to do it at home :)
Edited by: LEIGHSABEE at: 11/6/2010 (21:18)
11/6/10 4:21 P
I agree with the others, you should be proud of yourself for going to the gym! Whenever I go I don't really look at what other people I doing... maybe I am too fixated on the television though :-) Don't feel embarrassed, working out is such a positive thing!
11/6/10 3:45 P
I'm not ashamed
Fitness Minutes: (247,375)
11/6/10 2:23 P
Never feel embarrassed to be working out at the gym. Look to the left and look to the right. At one time, those "fit" people next to you might have been overweight too. Many people assume that if you're fit, you must have always been that way. Not true. Many fit people were once fat. They made the change and so are you by going to the gym.
Also, most people really aren't staring at you. if they do, smile back at them. Smiles they're contagious, spread them around. If the person was being rude, they'll go back to whatever they were doing. A nice person will smile back.
Don't worry, you'll do just fine. If you're not sure how to use a piece of cardio equipment, ask one of the trainers at the desk. they'll show you what you need to do.
Also, check out the gym class schedule. take a class that looks like fun. Let the instructor know that you're new and they'll show you modifications where you need them. Taking a class with an instructor is a good way to make sure you're using good form.
So, have fun !!
Fitness Minutes: (3,827)
107 11/6/10 2:06 P
As everyone else said, when I'm at the gym I'm not paying attention to other people (exception: when people are using the weights I need in the weight room :) but even then I'm not judging them just trying to keep my muscles warmed up between exercises). You also have to remember that most of the people at the gym who are working out alongside you have been where you are... no one comes out of the womb a great runner. You have to work up to it.
Fitness Minutes: (1,167)
36 11/6/10 1:43 P
In the past gyms were just for bodybuilders and pro athletes, so a lot of older people don't realize that today's gyms aren't like the gyms of the past. Most gyms are full of people of all ages, and a lot of those people are in the gym to GET fit (as opposed to already being in perfect physical shape).
And like Bronxbabe said, the majority of people at the gym are too concerned with their own workouts to pay any attention to you, so you have nothing to be embarrassed about!
Fitness Minutes: (5,380)
94 11/6/10 1:42 P
I feel the same way~! Luckily my gym is open 24 hours monday-thursday.. I found out if you go after 9pm, especially after 11pm, the number of people there drop by like 80% so its much easier to work out privately.
I just shrug it off though--if I keep working, I'll be their size! Lol
Fitness Minutes: (130,534)
3,012 11/6/10 1:36 P
Way to go on getting to the gym! I can tell you from experience that when people are into their workouts, they are not thinking about who is doing what next to them, unless they are talking loudly on a cell phone or singing at the top of their lungs.
You should be very proud of yourself for taking such an important step towards a healthier you. As far as running on the treadmill, and going all out on the elliptical, nobody starts out like that. You have to build up to it.
11/6/10 1:20 P
Sometimes I feel so silly when I see these skinny little girls running so fast on the treadmill or going twice the speed on the elliptical. I'm talking girls who look like they are a size 2. Here I am struggling and sweating away next to them and feel self conscious at times. Anyone else feel that way? I wonder if they think "Oh she is not as fast as me on her machine.."
SparkPeople, SparkCoach, SparkPages, SparkPoints, SparkDiet, SparkAmerica, SparkRecipes, DailySpark, and other marks are trademarks of SparkPeople, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
SPARKPEOPLE is a registered trademark of SparkPeople, Inc. in the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia. All rights reserved.