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SHERYLDS
Posts: 11,758
5/22/13 11:15 A

there are all kinds of people in this world...almost everyone at the gym who sees a heavy person working out, feels that at least the heavy person doing something about their weight. In fact if you say hello to people, you'll find most are rooting for you. You might even make some new friends



ODDMENTTWEAK
Posts: 1,537
5/22/13 10:45 A

I like my gym because it has 24-hr access with a swipe card, so I can go on off-peak hours when there are fewer people on the floor. My gym is a tiny boutique place with an emphasis on weight-lifting, so when there are lots of people it's too crowded for comfort.



SIMPLELIFE2
Posts: 706
5/21/13 11:42 P

@INNERBEAUTY78: Are there any thrift stores in your area? You can find some amazing deals. I've gotten clothes with tags on them, designer brands and like new for less than $5. I always get compliments on my outfits. It's especially economical if you are still losing weight. BTW, I'm sure nobody notices your clothes but it might make you feel better and move more freely if your clothes fit well.



EGRAMMY
Posts: 12,931
5/21/13 7:01 P

When I was younger....



CALLMECARRIE
Posts: 1,598
5/21/13 5:41 P

TAXANDRIA, with your level of anxiety and self-consciousness, maybe you should find other ways to exercise besides the gym? There's nothing wrong with exercising at home. Of course most of us can't afford that much expensive equipment, but if you try you can still get in all the exercise you need. It sounds like you don't need the anxiety. If you do still choose to go, keep in mind that if anyone is judging you, it's really they're problem.



INNERBEAUTY78
Posts: 217
5/21/13 3:38 P

I am definitely self-conscious at the gym. Especially, when I can't afford new gym clothes and wear the same outfit six days a week. I have one pair of pants and I switch off between two shirts. I'm losing weight too, so they're so baggy on me. Despite my weight loss I'm still overweight, which also makes me self-conscious. I don't think negatively towards others in my position, so I would hope they don't think negatively about me. At least I'm trying to lose weight. That's got to count for something, right?




BUNNYLAMB
SparkPoints: (39,021)
Fitness Minutes: (19,935)
Posts: 552
5/21/13 3:10 P

Ooh I feel you! I also had a much better time with the whole situation when I had a gym buddy... for me the idea was pretty terrible to begin with (someone I KNOW being around while I sweat and jiggle? nothankyou!) but when I actually made myself go with her it turned out to be a real joy to have a friend there. There's a lot less room for negative self-talk when you are laughing together and congratulating each other just for showing up!

I am managing now even though I don't have a 'buddy'... I go to women-only programs whenever I can find them and try REALLY hard not to say mean things to myself when I'm working out. I also have a backup plan (a home workout, usually) for days when the social anxiety is too paralyzing.

Good luck and I'm rooting for you!!



SPAYYOURCAT
SparkPoints: (68,257)
Fitness Minutes: (42,621)
Posts: 2,738
5/21/13 2:45 P

I felt the same way at 1st, but used a personal trainer for several months and that REALLY helped get over the "everyone is looking at me syndrome". She acquainted me with proper techniques, use of equipment,etc. and now I know more about "how" to use the gym, than a lot of the beefy guys.
I just turn up my mp3 player and get to working out. They can think whatever they want, I am the one who has to live in my body, and what they think doesn't effect that.



BUFFYSUMMERS81
SparkPoints: (2,827)
Fitness Minutes: (1,339)
Posts: 42
5/21/13 1:24 P

I enjoy going to the gym at 2am. Most people are asleep and I don't have to feel self conscious, since I don't have an exercise buddy. When I go, if there are too many people I leave and come back later.



SMARIN0582
SparkPoints: (1,152)
Fitness Minutes: (1,441)
Posts: 1
5/21/13 11:18 A

I completely understand where people are coming from when they feel a little self-conscious at the gym. I still do at times! The thing that really helped me the most was going to the gym with an "exercise buddy" and that really helps. Then I have someone else to focus on other than the people around me. I also belong to a 24-hr gym, and I really enjoy going in the late evening. There is hardly anyone there and I can do my routine without feeling as though someone might be watching. :-)



ANNE007
Posts: 153
5/21/13 10:57 A

I have so much respect for people at the gym who are new and who obviously have not been active much in the past. You have such a big advantage over millions of people in the same situation who are still sitting at home munching on McDonalds for dinner while watching TV!

Yes it's difficult to change, which is exactly what you are doing. Before long, as others have said, you will feel as much at home in the gym as you used to feel on the sofa :-) And it's so much better for you!

When I first started I also went with a friend. We "split" a personal trainer who would give us a routine that we would follow for some time, then we would go back and spend time with him to get a new routine. Meeting someone there helped me a lot, because I didn't want to let her down. As someone else mentioned, when you work out with someone your focus in more on them and you can pretty much ignore anyone else who is there. Before long though you will see that most people are so focused on what they are doing they will have no idea who else is in the room.

As for guys picking up women - they do it everywhere, so I'm not surprised it happens at the gym. Don't worry about them! People need to meet somehow, let them go.

Focus on YOU. You deserve what you are giving yourself! Keep going, make it a habit. I don't have the social anxieties that others have mentioned and I apologize that I can't offer advice for that, but if it's possible to take the advice above, please try. Like anything else it gets so much easier in time, and your health depends on it!

Good luck!



ACUPUNCTURE2
SparkPoints: (3)
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Posts: 1
5/21/13 9:11 A

good



DMJAKES
Posts: 1,583
5/21/13 9:07 A

You've gotten some great advice and encouragement already, but I have to say that you really should keep at it. Facing a fear like yours will take you a long way--not only at the gym but in life in general. I'm not a big crowd/performance person either, but the gym was important enough to me to tough it out, and I'm glad I did.

I now belong to a small community-center gym. I'll admit, I do watch folks occasionally as they work out. I'm a trainer and I like to mentally spot-check people on their form and see if I can find any possible compensations, tight muscles, old injuries, etc. I'm certainly not secretly laughing at or judging anyone.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and everyone went through that newbie anxiety to some degree. Please don't give up---you're worth it!



TCANNO
SparkPoints: (100,470)
Fitness Minutes: (66,600)
Posts: 17,962
5/21/13 3:18 A

I have my own gym so don't have to go out to one






PINKTOFUHEART
Posts: 15
5/21/13 12:47 A

I will be thrilled if I get hit on at the gym LOL I don't blame people for trying to meet others it's tough nowadays to meet new people. That said don't worry nobody is watching you or paying attention, most people at the gym are doing their thing and focused on what they are doing don't let anxiety stop you go for it 😊



EARTH-ANGEL
Posts: 305
5/21/13 12:35 A

I have to agree with what several other people have said about how working out at home is much more comfortable and less intimidating. I used to go the gym but found that everyone (myself included) was more preoccupied with what everyone else was doing over their own workouts. I have had much more success running outside and working out in my apartment with videos (I own quite a few Beachbody programs) because ultimately it is easier to just get up and go than to get up...get myself to the gym and go. It removes that added step working out at home.



TINIERTINA
Posts: 4,952
5/20/13 11:15 P

The thing about the gym is that they don't motivate you.

Once you might get started, it is possible to work out harder, go faster or lift heavier weights, etc. than at home or outdoors on your own.

But gyms are made for natural self-starters.

And not just any self-starters, but the type who are not intimidated by the hard-bodies or sweet little young things around them ... (okay, I show that I am old enough to be their mother .... lol ... and I actually am)

The outside of the gym is the WORST: That's when you see the energetic kids streaming in. (Some people my age have already retired and are already in the gym ... with their personal trainers ... lol)

Some times I used to get there after work (before work is not an option because I can barely get up early enough), and even carrying (heavy) all my gear, and still just want to go home ...

Barring having a personal trainer (and I cannot afford one) in that gym, I don't come equipped with a "Start" button.

Besides, my workouts are really, really weird ...even now that I am forced to do conventional cardio due to my new state of ill health ... I now have multiple comorbidities and inflammation.

You know, for many years I did not take to going to exercise classes--instead opting for the machines, light free weights and stretching areas mostly; and then when I said bye-bye to my last gym 5 years ago, I took to classes--again. I found that many yoga teachers and aerobics instructors--just as in the distant past, except the yoga teachers were actually worse than the '80s-era aerobics teachers--could be a pretty judgmental lot, to the extent of hating on the bodies of their students if these bodies don't exactly behave like the ones of natural dancers ...

I love working out at home because none of this - judgment from the teacher - exists at home!

The only problem is that the motivation to actually start - comes and goes ...



STARSHINE182
Posts: 16
5/20/13 10:34 P

I completely understand where you are coming from! I had a horrible experience at the gym once where I felt so uncomfortable due to one individual and it was very embarrassing. I stopped going to that gym. On the other hand, I have had experiences where others in the gym were kind & smiled encouragingly at me. It all depends on the people at each particular gym. I think the big thing is to know that you are not alone & it should not stop you from getting healthy. It's their problem, not yours!

I agree that the YMCA is a good choice to avoid the inconsiderate gym goers. The Y by me is a lot of the older crowd, especially if I go in the morning.

Another option might be the women only gyms or a place like Planet Fitness where they try to reduce the gym stigma. I have never been to any of those places so I don't know if they really have a different atmosphere but maybe you can get a free pass & try them out.



TRS2129
Posts: 28
5/20/13 10:03 P

Hello!

When I first started going to the gym, I kind of felt the same way. My secret- put the earbuds in and jam out to your favorite workout music! Once I get on the elliptical and turn my music on, I feel like I'm the only one there! Besides, knowing that other people feel the same way should help because they could also be thinking that are judging them...if that makes sense hahaha

Keep up the good work..you can do it! emoticon

Edited by: TRS2129 at: 5/22/2013 (20:08)


MISSYGEEN
SparkPoints: (23,788)
Fitness Minutes: (20,296)
Posts: 1,793
5/20/13 7:43 P

It's all about perspective. Just think about it. If you saw a woman getting hit on at the grocery store, would you stop going there? As I was reading the responses I started to think of all of the places that women are hit on. That would be anywhere including church and the gym can't possibly be any more sacred than that. The truth is I see very little of that at the last few gyms that I have joined.

Dr. Phil has a saying. "You wouldn't worry so much about what other people think of you if you knew how little they did." we all live in our own little world and the things on our mind don't often concern others, especially strangers.

That being said, I agree with others. If the anxiety is to much for you perhaps you should work out at home. Or be radical and concur your fear.



DAWNGW
Posts: 196
5/20/13 5:39 P

I know lots of people who are self conscious at the gym and prefer to do workouts at home or go on walks outdoors. While I like doing these things too, I feel like I try much harder when I am at a gym so I like to mix it up and do gym workouts and go outside.

When I am at the gym, honestly, I don't concern myself with other people at all. I'm mostly focused on my own progress and workout. Sometimes, it's boring to run on the treadmill and I find myself looking at other people but it's not to judge them. It's just like if you were at the DMV or a grocery store, sometimes you people-watch.

This is not to reinforce your anxiety for people at the gym, I am just saying that I sincerely think that people aren't judging you, and they are thinking about themselves, turning inward.

Have fun with it!!! Have some great workouts and may you go enough that it gets easier each time and you begin to not care what people think. emoticon



BEVERLYCHERIE87
SparkPoints: (2,374)
Fitness Minutes: (3,270)
Posts: 23
5/20/13 5:32 P

I FINALLY got my mom to go to the gym with me and this was one of her problems. Luckily we have a section of the gym that is set aside just for woman. She started in there and then slowly made her way out to the big gym. She has made so much progress that she even now takes classes in glass enclosed rooms. My advice is every time you start getting to the place where you are paranoid and self conscious try telling yourself that you look amazing and you are doing your best. Do this over and over and eventually you will believe it. Also try looking around for the other people that are where you are and admire how well they are doing! Then you can put yourself in that same category!!



BERRY4
SparkPoints: (138,558)
Fitness Minutes: (86,292)
Posts: 6,895
5/20/13 4:39 P

The only people I watch at the gym are those who are doing some good, quality workouts & I want to learn from them. Otherwise, I have my workout and that's what I pay attention to!



KDYLOSE
Posts: 742
5/20/13 2:56 P

I agree that the YMCA tends to be a more diverse group of people. Lots of old folks at mine.



PENAM87
Posts: 46
5/20/13 2:10 P

I guess one thing you have to realize is that everyone at gym has a common goal: to get fit! So really there is no room for judgment because even though you're not a size 2, you're at least taking the first step to getting healthy! When I go to the gym or workout outside, I stick my headphones in or bring a magazine/book and zone out the rest of the world. If your gym has machines with tv's, try focusing on a show so as to not worry about people around you. One thing I like to do is go to the gym at non peak hours....less people around, less waiting for a machine to open. Trying finding a workout buddy, this may help ease the nerves and you also have someone to lean on when you need some help
I've been lucky in that I've never had anxiety issues or self consciousness but I like to keep in mind that I'd rather have people judging me for doing the right thing than doing the wrong thing or worse nothing at all.



N16351D
Posts: 2,349
5/20/13 11:09 A

TAXANDRIA and others who are self-conscious at the gym: You may want to read responses to the thread, "Embarrassed at the gym." There are several others in this Fitness and Exercise section on the same topic.

It is wonderful to read all of the different perspectives. Though I try to encourage newcomers to a gym, most people there are focused on their own workouts and don't care about others. They are concentrating and in their own worlds.

To test this, try talking to someone with headsets on! They don't even know you are present!



AMBER0406
SparkPoints: (15,109)
Fitness Minutes: (9,093)
Posts: 122
5/20/13 10:53 A

I used to feel very self conscious about running outside as well and at the gym for that matter. But then I stopped caring. If for some reason I start to feel that way, I just tell myself oh well, you are bettering yourself right now. I don't want to let other people's judgements on me prevent me from losing weight and becoming the person I want to be. So now I don't care if I jiggle, because I know that before long that jiggle will be gone! emoticon emoticon



-THENA-
SparkPoints: (18,929)
Fitness Minutes: (26,077)
Posts: 360
5/20/13 10:36 A

I want to join a gym but I haven't been able to make myself do it yet. I've wanted to do it for years now. I know that anxiety you feel about people looking at you and judging you. I have never told anyone this (and maybe it's the medication I've been on for almost two weeks that's made me comfortable enough to now, but anyway), but I can't even jog outside because I'm constantly stressed about people looking at me. I even worry about the people driving their cars! People who most likely don't even notice I'm there unless I jog right in front of their vehicles at an intersection. So you can imagine how it has always felt for me to try to work out in a gym.

All these years, I had no idea that what I thought was recurring depression was actually an anxiety disorder. I am now getting help so I can work toward being the person I have always wanted to be, but it's still early for me and I am still trying to take those first baby steps in my life.

I envy the people who can not care, who thrive on being looked at, or who can push through their discomfort and do it anyway. I always have. In my mind, you are extremely brave and strong. People like you are inspirational to me.

I just wanted you to know that I understand, and that there are people out there who applaud your courage, people who are cheering you on and hoping you succeed.



RACEWELLWON
Posts: 2,613
5/20/13 10:16 A

Yes I have felt that way - even after weight loss ?? But everyone starts at the beginning , so the people that you think are scoffing at you in the gym are hoping that you stay. Perhaps because they remember what it was like for themselves. I attend Jazzercise and have found that everyone in the class is very supportive to new comers and avoid of clicks Keep pushing do not let anyone else take away your happiness - LiL Racer emoticon

Edited by: RACEWELLWON at: 5/20/2013 (10:17)


CRYPTICUSERNAME
SparkPoints: (1,116)
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Posts: 6
5/20/13 8:38 A

I used to go to a (small-sh) SnapFitness and I had that same socially-anxious, claustrophobic feeling. It was frequented by college students who spend more of their time flirting and draping themselves all over the equipment (I exercised late at night when SF didn't have staff working) ... and I couldn't stand it.

So when Planet Fitness opened locally, I moved there. It was huge, there was no tripping over other people -- and it helped me feel like I was just another person on a treadmill. Sometimes it's about finding where you're comfortable, I think!

I did have ONE incident at PF where I was on a treadmill (going much faster than I'm comfortable) and something happened (I can't remember if I dropped my water bottle or my iPod - I'm not good with multi-tasking) and I WENT DOWN. The treadmill was still going and I felt sure everyone in the place was staring because it was quite a thud (really burned my knees, hands, and CHIN of all things) ... not one person reacted. :-)



M4GGIE_B
Posts: 180
5/20/13 8:30 A

Sometimes i feel self conscious. Most of the time i'm over it. I work as hard as anyone else and am usually too busy to be concentrating on others. I think sometimes being self conscious is all in one's mind......no one else is really interested. emoticon



NAUSIKAA
Posts: 4,848
5/20/13 8:01 A

One more message of support from a devoted gym-goer!!

I practice an acrobatic sport at the gym and it is rather interesting to watch. People stare at me every single day at the gym and I don't really blame them, I would too -- and lots of people (who don't know me at all) ask me questions. I actually get an extra boost of energy when someone is watching/staring, it's almost like having someone cheer for me. The owner of my gym takes prospective gym members to see me when I'm working out, sort of like a zoo animal LOL!!!

9 months ago, when I first walked into the gym, I was just another new obese 30-something woman in bad clothes trying not to be noticed, imagining what other people were thinking about me. I went at the quietest hours when not many others were there, and mostly stayed in the basement free weights room where I was usually alone. I never went to a class, because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep up, or understand what was happening, or I would pass out in front of everyone. I have health-anxiety too so the first few weeks, I would panic just from feeling my heart rate increase (which did not help my heart rate, as you can imagine!). My old gym clothes were too tight and I probably looked dreadful, I was sure people were just waiting for me to give up and stop coming to the gym.

The only thing that changed between 9 months ago and today is... 9 months of me going to the gym for an hour every day. I'm now a healthy weight, very fit, and I look athletic. Now when people stare at me, I get positive energy from it.

So, in my experience, despite what many on SP say, people do notice other gym-goers. It's natural. You're stuck in a relatively small space with a bunch of people doing physical things and you're taking breaks from your own physical things so it's natural to look around you. I look at the other gym-goers (not in a creepy way, lol) and I talk to them ("are you using this?"). I sometimes have funny thoughts about them -- like the woman who does a "praise God!" thing every 5 seconds while walking on the treadmill, or the young couple that makes out in front of the dumbbells. But the people who are respectful of the other members? The people who are doing their thing in more or less reasonable fashion? (99.9%) I'm glad they're there keeping my gym in business.

As someone who takes long breaks between sets, I have observed and people-watched for probably hours if you take it cumulatively, and there's no one at my gym that I dislike or think condescendingly toward. People do stupid stuff, dangerous stuff, hilarious stuff, people stink, people waste a crapload of their own time and money, but they're all just nice people who are all trying to have fun, get in shape, stay in shape, or whatnot. There's no ill will in the gym. If you want to look for mean and negative environments, they're out there -- but not at the gym.

As for the idea of men hitting on women at the gym. It happens. It should NOT happen in my opinion. When I crossed the line from overweight to healthy weight, as if by magic, I started getting hit on. I decided not to care. I ignore the bejeezus out of anyone who hits on me and they give up and go away pretty fast because being rejected in front of everyone at the gym is no one's idea of a fun experience. I am married but even if I weren't , I would never hit on a guy at the gym. It's like hitting on someone in the therapist's waiting room. It's a safe space and we're all there for the same reasons and we're letting it all hang out, so to speak, so trying to turn it into a pick-up bar is bad form. Most guys know this. Also, statistically, most guys at your gym are married, dating someone, gay, or in love with someone else. Don't fear the bodybuilder types, either -- they're usually some of the nicest people in the gym, because they're there all the time and the environment matters to them. I'm not outwardly bodybuilder-looking, but I consider myself one of this group. All we want is for people to keep paying their dues, really, so the gym stays open!

Sorry for the length but before you throw in your gym towel and switch to home workouts or whatever, I just wanted to put in my two cents because the I transformed myself using the gym and I am a huge believer in gyms and the positive energy that they have, and the way that energy can be channeled to push you farther than you could ever push yourself.



MOMOFFERGIE
SparkPoints: (6,557)
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Posts: 20
5/19/13 10:18 P

The gym can be a daunting place, because you do see all those people that are fit and healthy NOW. Maybe some were like us before they got there. The thing is, don't care what others think. When I was in college, I went to the gym and did dance classes. I have no rhythm, or dance moves whatsoever, but I still like to shake my "thing", though I'm sure I just looked like I was having a seizure. But I didn't care, I was having fun. That's my suggestion to you, find something that you have fun at and do it. If you still find the gym daunting, cancel your membership, and take your exercise outside, or get some videos. I love to do the ones on here, and fitnessblender.com You can do them in the privacy of your own home or go for walks. To get fit does not mean you have to be a gym-goer.



REDTHREN
SparkPoints: (10,936)
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Posts: 145
5/19/13 10:17 P

I catch myself watching people at the gym, but it's usually because I'm in awe of what they're doing. Every time I go I'm surprised at the capabilities of the human body. I want my body to be able to do at least a fraction of that!



SIMPLELIFE2
Posts: 706
5/19/13 10:10 P

Here's a perspective from the other side. I am one of those fit people at the gym and I'm not even looking at you. I have my headphones on and my routine in my head or on my phone. I am in the zone. And unless you are on a piece of equipment I want to use, I don't even notice you.

Even if I'm resting, I'm not looking at you, although you may misread that blank stare in your direction. The only time I may look at someone is if they are doing a cool new exercise that I've never seen.

I say push through it. Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It is acknowledging it and facing it head on. Your confidence will only grow stronger as your body also does. And if you run across someone being a childish jerk, that's THEIR problem. Don't make it yours.



GRAYCATBIRD
Posts: 1,535
5/19/13 8:47 P

I started going to the gym about eight years ago, with a close friend. I have an anxiety disorder and social anxiety, too, though it's under fairly good control with medication. But I felt extremely self-conscious and was hyper-aware of the beautiful, slim, athletic-looking bodies all around me. It took a while to feel more comfortable, and as someone else mentioned, taking classes was really helpful to me. But don't take a hard class at first! I did, and it was pretty daunting for a while. I stuck with it mostly because my friend was there; I don't know if I would have had the gumption on my own. But staying with it paid off.

As my level of fitness improved, I felt better about being there. I think the reward of seeing improvement canceled out a lot of the self-consciousness. And I just plain got used to being there and lost a lot of the fear of being judged. Familiarity helps assuage my anxiety.

Since I've been going to the gym, my weight has been up and down -- I admit it felt great when my weight was down and I could practically fly over the board in my step aerobics class! But even at a much higher weight, which is where I am now, I don't feel embarrassed anymore.

I'm not a person who loves exercise (except walking and gardening!), and I think a lot of people at the gym do love it. But I do like being fit and strong, and I get a feeling of accomplishment from working out. I guess that gives me a sense of worth that helps me not worry so much about being judged.

I'm glad I had the motivation of my friend being there to help me keep going to the gym and get past my fears. If I could be disciplined enough to exercise on my own -- walking, etc. -- I would do that. But I really need the structure of going to a place to work out. If I'm at home, it's way too easy to put off exercising until the time available for it has run out.

I wish you the best!

Sue




ZERO2HERO
SparkPoints: (18,060)
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Posts: 640
5/19/13 5:58 P

I, too, have quite a bit of social anxiety. There were - and still occasionally are - some times where I had to talk myself out of the car and into the gym. I've taken it step-by-step (mini goals) to help remedy some of my anxiety. For example, goal one was to just get 30 minutes of cardio in, then I progressed into lower body strength training (2 months later), and have only now just worked in upper body strength training (5 months later). I can now handle an hour in the gym without feeling completely paranoid.

Admittedly, I try to keep my distance from others - an empty machine, one weight machine away, etc... by it is improving. I also put my music on immediately to tune out distractions. If you push yourself a bit each time it becomes easier to adjust.

Though I should mention I joined a YMCA for the same reasons as someone else already mentioned. There are the usual beautiful gym bodies, but there are also people like me, like me five months ago, and people I hope to be like in another 50 years. The trainers are also extremely receptive to all types of bodies.

Press on. It gets better.



MOINSDEMOI
Posts: 1,158
5/19/13 5:28 P

TAXANDRIA - Part of the SparkPeople message is to set goals and then set up mini goals along the way to break down the larger goal into more manageable ones. So, just think of the gym as a goal and every day you go to the gym is one day more than you would have if you quit. This is your time to achieve your goals.

You didn't mention what time you were going the gym - I go at 5:30am during the week (because of work) and 8:00 am on the weekend because I know if I don't work out first thing in the morning there is a chance I won't work out at all. What I have found at those times is that people truly are at the gym to exercise. In fact our instructors have commented on it and really like teaching the early morning classes because we are serious about being there. I have heard that the after work crowd is a lot different with more socializing. It can be distracting to the other members and sometimes rude to the instructors if they talk during classes.

I also have better results taking classes than working out by myself on the exercise equipment alone. I have made some wonderful friends who also make sure I go to the classes. The instructors push me much harder than I would on my own and it is FUN.

If it is possible, you may want to see if you feel more comfortable at other times of the day; you may want to try a class. But please don't give it up. It will be another victory for you as you continue your journey.

And remember ... we are here to support you on your journey, too!! emoticon emoticon emoticon



FIELDWORKING
SparkPoints: (23,586)
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Posts: 644
5/19/13 4:50 P

Some guys go to the gym for that reason...to look at "hot women." Some women go to the gym so that guys can see them in their tight gym clothes.

There is app that I use when I walk outside called mapmyrun. I can even track the cardio I do at the gym. When I walk outside, the app will announce when I have completed a mile, my speed (in mph), and pace (min/mile). Each mile after the first mile will be announced the same way. If you walk outside, you can vary your pace and the distance that you walk. I wouldn't completely give up on the gym though. It can provide a nice alternative to walking outside (i.e., elliptical, treadmill, spinning bike, stationary/recumbant bike, rowing machine, and maybe even a pool). I understand how you feel about being self conscious at the gym. I just stick my earphones into my ears and listen to some music.

I do my strength training at home now (dumbbells and body weight). I also invested in a couple of dvds (Billy Blanks).

Just focus on what you're there for...you. If you can, maybe see about getting a personal trainer, even if it is for once a week for a few weeks. Having a personal trainer may help to take your mind off of what other people are doing.



ERICADURR
Posts: 241
5/19/13 4:42 P

The only time I judge people at the gym is when (a) they hit on someone or (b) they sit on their phones, putting themselves and others in danger because they aren't paying attention. Other than that, I couldn't care less about how people look. :)



N16351D
Posts: 2,349
5/19/13 2:08 P

This topic has been repeated often in these message boards. Thank goodness that it is. Suggest you look back several web pages for the same topic to see how others have responded. Here is my input.

First: Congratulate yourself that you are doing something about excess weight and getting yourself healthy and fit.

Second: Those of us who are trim and fit and who use a fitness gym were not always that way! We all started somewhere! I was 25 pounds overweight in college and wouldn't go near a gym! Mostly because I didn't know what to do while there! Instead, I biked, walked, jogged, swam, and played tennis. I lost most of that weight and was able to keep it off until I turned age 45, and by age 50 had a plan in place to get off the last five pounds.

Third: I'll tell you what one trim and fit person thinks when I see heavy people beginning to use the gym, "Good for them! That person is doing something about it! Won't it be fun to watch them progress over six months and a year, and watch the excess pounds roll off!" Then I walk up and try to think of something encouraging to say like, "Isn't it hard to get up early to do this every day?" or, "I used to hate that weight room, but after I kept at it for a year, it wasn't so bad anymore." Or else I might say, "It is nice to meet you! Come back! I look forward to seeing you again!" I realize that most people are not like this, but I try to help new people, especially overweight people be encouraged and return.

I hope something written here helps you!



GLORIAMAJDI
SparkPoints: (77,794)
Fitness Minutes: (70,300)
Posts: 1,164
5/19/13 12:58 P

I've been a member of various gyms on and off through the years, and I agree, it is difficult because you see all of these thin buff bodies and you wonder what they are thinking. At some point I began to not care because I am there for ME only. And I am getting healthier by being there. But currently, I am not a member of a gym. Right now I am taking advantage of walking outside. If you have a contract with the gym, you probably want to keep using it to make sure you get your money's worth. But if not, you might want to try walking outside. For now just walk as fast as you can (2.5 mph) and gradually build up your speed. This might take several weeks or even months. You can gauge your speed by figuring out the distance (RunKeeper - for walkers too - is a good app if you have a SmartPhone with a data plan, it will tell you your distance and the time. You can also use the option in the SparkPeople fitness tracker to map your route - put in your time and figure out your speed). Over time you should see your speed and distance build. Another option - have you ever tried the Leslie Sansone walking DVDs? They are not too difficult (and not too expensive) and they are usually in 15 minute increments, with a few minutes added for a warm up and cool down. They are good for those super hot days or those rainy days when you can't get outside. I don't usually use a heart rate monitor - I just go by perceived rate of exertion. I do have a heart rate monitor and so on the rare occasion that I do use it, I find that I am right on target for where I ought to be. Just remember, you are on your way to better health. You are doing your best and exercise is a great thing. Slow and steady wins the race!

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BRONXBABE
SparkPoints: (94,123)
Fitness Minutes: (108,188)
Posts: 2,974
5/19/13 11:31 A

If anything, others are secretly applauding you for getting healthy. The people sitting around are probably trying to catch their breath, or just resting between sets.

Can you go to the gym during off peak times, when it is fairly empty? Another option is to invest in some exercise DVD's and workout at home. One final suggestion is to exercise with a buddy. When you have someone to share the workout with, you tend to tune everyone else out.

Best of luck to you!



DRIEDOUT
SparkPoints: (3,899)
Fitness Minutes: (5,334)
Posts: 249
5/19/13 11:27 A

I became a yoga teacher for several reasons, one of which was because I encountered so much hostility and condescension from teachers (and other students) when I took a yoga class.

My goal was to create a safe space where other yogis of size can feel supported and celebrated in their yoga practice.

Still, the people who come to my class are almost all thin. My large friends STILL think they can't come because they don't already look (feel) fit. I'm just under 200 lbs, and while some arthritis and injuries I got as a young dancer (I'm 50 now) have slowed me down and limited my practice, I am wiser and stronger about the essence of yoga.

Yoga is not, and should not be, cardio vascular exercise, but it is a way to build strength, flexibility, self-confidence and peace of mind. I hope with time our societal perception of yoga as being a practice only for the very thin, flexible and athletic will pass. In the mean time, I will keep teaching, keep inviting people of every size, shape and physical condition and I commend everyone who walks into that gym, or yoga studio, or pool, or any public place where physical activity is practiced.

Those of us who are obese do scare many people. They feel a need to distance themselves because obesity is the leprosy of this millennia. But those of us living in large bodies know that size is not the only indicator of fitness. My blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar, everything checked at my annual physical is perfect. I'm not bragging, much of this is genetic and random luck, but some of it is persistence to keep moving even though I am obese.

I do want to lose weight for vain reasons as well as health reasons. I know that long term carrying 200lbs on my 5'3" frame will not serve me well. It is exacerbating my orthopedic conditions. I also know I need to make these changes slowly and wisely so that I can move into the second half of my life with grace and confidence. During my first 30 years I managed to get thin sporadically by doing drastic exercise and dieting regimes. Ironically, every time I have been at my thinnest, I have also been the least healthy. Every major injury and illness I experienced when I was thin.

So when you get the evil eye from that thin person at the gym who is terrified of overweight people, know that they may be the one whose stress hormones are raging and pushing them to heart attack faster than you. Take a deep breath and take up exactly as much space as you do. Exercise at exactly the size that you are. Take it at whatever tempo and duration is healthy. Hold you head high with pride that you made it in the door. Success in yoga or exercise is first and foremost doing it.



EARTHFIREFLY
SparkPoints: (13,338)
Fitness Minutes: (9,812)
Posts: 39
5/19/13 10:39 A

Have most definitely been there (and am still there often)!

If the gym is still the best thing for you, I'd suggest trying your local YMCA--much cheaper and a fuller range of folks at different stages of fitness. That's the only type of gym where I've ever felt marginally comfortable.

It might be worth it to see if there's a non-gym option that works for you, too, as others here have suggested. I do a lot of my exercise at home or outside where I don't have to deal with other people so much. I've also found listening to music and trying to focus on my own goals/how my body feels rather than what other people are up to helps (I know, easier said than done, but it works when you can manage it!).

It may take some experimentation, but I know you can come up with something that works for you!

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TAXANDRIA
Posts: 9
5/19/13 10:34 A

Thanks for the replies, everyone. Glad to see it's not just me. I get social anxiety as it is so going to a gym is sort of like being claustrophobic and putting yourself in a closet for 30 mins. I do think, "Well, at least I am not sitting at the computer, people have to give me a lil credit!" as an internal response to the perceived criticism. I will keep in mind that people probably do look at me and are pulling for me. It's just men I guess that I wonder about because of comments I've seen online where (and I don't mean ALL men at all) some guys' perceptions create a sense that the gym is a place to pick up women or something and that every woman there "should be" 20 years old and gorgeous and thin etc. I like seeing heavier folks at the gym and older folks, too. It makes me feel proud of them and motivated because I feel like they're doing it so I can, too.

I hear you on the walking outside -- I just need a heart rate monitor or something to get myself motivated though I just read online that heart rate isn't really as good as perceived exertion to gauge your workout intensity. Ahh well.



MOTIVATED@LAST
Posts: 14,104
5/19/13 10:01 A

One thing I keep repeating to myself whenever I am feeling self-conscious is "Yes, but at least I am doing something about it". I've never had to use this line on anyone, but it feels good to know I have a retort ready if ever anyone was rude enough to comment.

Listening to an MP3 player while you work out may help shut out the sounds of others working out around you, and if you are less aware of others, your mind is less likely to dwell on what they are thinking.

However, if you are feeling self-conscious to the point of hyperventilating, I wonder if the gym is necessarily the best place for you to work out? Especially in Spring and summer, you can walk outside. Exercise DVD's at home are another popular alternative. And you don't need fancy machines to strength train - you can get in a great workout using just your own bodyweight for resistance.

M@L



STRONGCOURAGE
Posts: 612
5/19/13 9:53 A

I have felt this too,to some degree, especially when I first begin to exercise. But once I get into it, I start to develop a feeling of " pride"--like a good kind--that feeling of : "hey, I AM doing something GOOD for myself ". I always look with admiration when I see an overweight person working out because I know how hard it is to work up the courage to do it!!! (for one!) And its not easy to exercise -for two! So try just to focus on doing it for you. I know its hard because I have an anxiety disorder actually and I tend to be a people pleaser and worry what people think, BUT when I DO focus on just "pleasing" myself and realizing what good I am doing for me, it feels really good and I relax. Try to focus on *you*. Hope that helps a little :) ~ Monica




HLKLJGK
SparkPoints: (28,748)
Fitness Minutes: (12,840)
Posts: 447
5/19/13 9:51 A

Definitely feel your pain. This quote gets me through: "NO MATTER HOW SLOW YOU GO, YOU ARE STILL LAPPING THE PEOPLE ON THE COUCH."

It's all about you. Everyone else is really worried about themselves (we're all self conscious and a bit self centered :) I've read in a lot of fitness forums that when the hard bodies see someone newly working out they feel really proud of them. You never know where people start out.

Keep the eye on the prize. You can do it!



TAXANDRIA
Posts: 9
5/19/13 8:38 A

I guess this is kind of obvious for lots of people, but I feel so terribly self conscious at the gym that I can barely work out if anyone is around me at all. Logically I know they're most likely concerned with themselves and their own workouts and progress, but sometimes I take a quick glance and see people just sort of sitting there, doing nothing. That's when the paranoia sets in -- especially when I have read online some men talking about looking at "hot women" or "the ladies" at the gym when they go. Creepy (to me, anyway).

I'm a very anxious, health-anxiety ridden, lower end of obese (if that matters?) long time sit down worker who is just starting out getting up and moving again. I want to just get comfortable with activity and since I'm so anxious (and thinking I'm going to drop dead every second), I tend to hyperventilate and get weird symptoms and this whole self consciousness isn't helping at all. It makes me want to not bother with the gym. I also sometimes feel like others are judging my workout as well as my body -- I'm not in shape, and I can't walk super fast yet. I do about 2.5 mph max and feel like people around me are judging it.

Has anyone else experienced this? How do you work on it and have you ever left a gym because of it? (What else did you choose to do in place of the gym?)




 
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