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APPLEPIEDREAMS SparkPoints: (231,669)
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5/29/13 6:01 P

I work at a university so the gyms I've belonged to have always been student recreation centers and generally more low-key than other gyms that you pay a steep membership fee for.

I'll be honest - sometimes I do look at the overweight women but it's because I'm wondering what their story is and admiring that they are at the gym making effort to get healthy. I used to be one of those women so I look at people that remind me of how I used to be and wonder if we might be "kindred spirits," so to speak. I do try to keep my looks in check because I know it makes people self-conscious, but sometimes I space out.

So it's entirely possible people ARE looking at you too long but are thinking good things, not negative things.

SALTATORIA SparkPoints: (1,196)
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5/29/13 3:33 P

I felt this way at first, but the more I went, the less I felt that way. I noticed that everyone else really WAS focused on their workout. They were either watching the TVs, looking at their display, checking their HRM, or staring off into space as they lifted weights (or looking in the mirror). Also, I realized that I didn't really pay attention to anyone else either. I always look at the display to check the time or just stare off at nothing.

Sometimes, I'll notice a heavier person and think, "Good for them!" along with a bit of relief that I'm not the only heavy person there. ;) Or, I'll see someone who's really in shape, and I think, "I hope I can run like that someday."

I think anyone who would judge someone for going to the gym is one of the lowest life forms possible. I mean, would they rather you be sitting on the couch? People should be congratulated (not literally; I'd die of embarrassment) for going to the gym and sticking with it. Gyms aren't just for people who are in-shape, and if you think about it, they didn't always used to be in-shape. I bet some of the people there were fat at some point, or didn't have much muscle, or couldn't even run a quarter-mile, etc. Everyone started somewhere.

ITALIABELLA1 SparkPoints: (0)
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5/29/13 3:24 P

I am an avid fan of the YMCA for this very reason. I have always hated the gym because I feel like people are judging me. And even at the Y I steer clear of others, using an open piece of equipment far away from everyone else, etc. But my husband was taking a boot camp-type class called HEAT. I thought it looked so hard and everyone in there was so small and athletic that there was NO WAY I was trying that. Then I tried it. And I LOVED it. Because it is soooo tough that all I can focus on is finishing the class, it even made me understand why people say that exercise relieves stress, because no treadmill workout ever made me forget about my day. I had an incident where we were all crawling on the ground and I literally snotted everywhere and one of the skinny girls commented on it. Well, I didn't go back for weeks because I was so worried about it. Then I finally got the nerve to try it again and no body even mentioned it, including the skinny girl. Last Saturday I fell on my butt jumping over a box, but it didn't even phase me, I just got up and kept going. I think it's about finding something that you are so into that you don't even notice anyone else. Keep going because it does get easier!

BUNNYLAMB SparkPoints: (52,562)
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5/29/13 1:06 P

I just wanted to add that I'm currently taking a fitness class at a very trendy place that is full of almost exclusively 20-something girls made of gossamer and toothpicks (I started my time there probably twice the average weight)... and for whatever reason I feel more comfortable there than I have in many other places. I would have thought I'd have hated working out amongst these tiny angels but everyone seems kind of nervous and friendly and, despite appearances, we're all at different fitness levels. Every so often a guy will show up to class and I always wonder if he feels self-conscious :)

Sometimes it's not entirely about a body size comparison but the overall "attitudemosphere" of the place.

Edited by: BUNNYLAMB at: 5/29/2013 (13:12)
5/29/13 3:41 A

Hi Taxandria,

Thanks for the post! It was actually really nice for me to see how many people felt the same way--I've always been uncomfortable at the gym, feeling like it's a meat market and my body is being evaluated by those with much better bodies. I generally try to hug the walls and avoid attracting any attention, but I think most people here are right about people being so concerned with their own workouts that they're probably not paying too much attention to anyone else.

You could always try distracting yourself from the (real or imagined) attention by listening to music or audiobooks while you work out. There's a really fun iPhone app called Zombies, Run! that plays a story that you take part in through your running. It's totally fun ;)

Anyway, I wish you luck! Oh, and I totally dig the Weeping Angels reference. "Don't Blink" is the greatest episode ever! :D

TACOMALO Posts: 675
5/28/13 9:32 P

To follow up on my previous post....I was struck at how the "normals" outnumbered the "gym types" about 3 to 1. I thought of your post immediately. Something to consider.

TINIERTINA Posts: 5,096
5/28/13 8:04 P

@ANNEMARGO, well now I am a bit below goal weight, but I have health concerns (and I did NOT get any younger ... can't afford that spa in Mexico with the anti-aging treatments that would be illegal if practiced in the U.S.) ... there IS no gym within my price range that is suitable to me ...

To compound the story, I'd taken free guest passes from that very gym by the truckload over a 10 year period. This had been at whatever weight = high before 2003, but I had been ... shall I say ... extremely underemployed - as in temp work- or if I'd had a job, on staycation.

Lacking incentives at the time,- as in I had the type of health insurance that did not reimburse health club visits - The net effect of all this had been that I was able to go at really odd times.

My only incentives back then, being the classic stairmasters, while they'd still owned and maintained them, their pool and their 20th floor city views ...

So, all the guest passes in the world do not tell you the real story ... the cheek-to-jowl jostling of the teeming hordes story ...

Now, reverting back to being a landlubber. And not indulging in my craving of luxury tower heights. Preferring the ugly signage and the low rises much closer to home because I work somewhere - in a rather undesirable neighborhood - which involves a long commute and I have now had caretaking responsibilities, as well as the upkeep of my own apartment, etc.

ANNEMARGO Posts: 450
5/28/13 5:45 P

"Oh, yeah. When I'd been wearing a size 20, one such chain gym (the name I bestowed upon it is: ... THEY know who they are), I hadn't wanted to be caught dead in front of, until I'd lost enough weight to be practically at goal weight."

VISION_QUEST2, exactly. That's one reason I think it's important to do some research before committing to any gym, and to take advantage of any free trial period a gym offers. We don't buy a pair of pants before seeing if they're a good fit; we shouldn't sign up to a gym without seeing if _it's_ a good fit.

NGREGOR SparkPoints: (16,523)
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5/28/13 3:24 P

It is hard not to notice others at a gym, although I don't pay much attention. Since reading this train of thought about being self conscious, I noticed a little more. My gym has men & women of ages high school to retired seniors including some pro basketball & football players. They come in all shapes & sizes There are a couple of guys in wheel chairs, a couple of people with canes, and I use a 4-footed quad cane. Most of them are much faster on the tread mill than me. A few of the men and the women are grossly obese, and they are balanced by the few that are grossly anorexic. Most fall somewhere in between. I've talked to a few of both men & women. Most seem to be there for some type of injury related physical therapy, to set a better, healthier example for their children or get healthier and more flexible themselves. No one is "looking at" anyone else. No one cares what anyone is wearing, where anyone else is bulging, how much others are sweating or how much wt anyone is lifting. They are just there to take better care of themselves and who cares what anyone else is doing. No one even pays attention to the Pros.

Edited by: NGREGOR at: 5/28/2013 (15:27)
TINIERTINA Posts: 5,096
5/28/13 2:01 P

"Believe it or not, there are gym chains, which shall remain nameless, that are the fitness equivalent of Abercrombie and Fitch."

Oh, yeah. When I'd been wearing a size 20, one such chain gym (the name I bestowed upon it is: ... THEY know who they are), I hadn't wanted to be caught dead in front of, until I'd lost enough weight to be practically at goal weight.

That is the last gym I ever attended. Five years ago.

CHARLOTTE1947 SparkPoints: (44,675)
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5/28/13 1:47 P


I haven't read all the posts, so I hope I'm not repeating something someone else has said. In my town there are a couple of fitness businesses where there is one trainer with one customer. You hook up to get exactly the training you need, one-on-one.

Next, I urge you to change gyms. Try an all female gym. That's where I got my start.

Sign up for some individual training sessions with a female trainer at the gym to learn the right moves, weights and equipment. She'll keep you moving, motivated and your mind off the people around you.

Then, join some of the group exercise routines and work on the back row where no one can see you struggle. That's where I'm most comfortable, to this day.

And shop for some really cute exercise outfits. Put on your make-up and go looking your best. You'll feel better right from the start.

Finally, rest assured that if you look around the gym, you'll see all body types: young, old, fit, fat. They're all there. I guarantee, you're not the oldest or heaviest person who ever walked through those doors. As many of us have noted, we're PROUD of people like you who are working to make the change.

Best of luck!

ANNEMARGO Posts: 450
5/28/13 1:19 P

Just wanted to say that as long as we're regularly working out, it really doesn't matter if we're going to a gym, popping in a DVD at home, running with a training group or going to a class. I think we can get so hung up on "going to the gym" that we overlook the most important part--consistent exercise. I'm currently exercising at home and running with a group, but I have gone to gyms and have found that some are more accepting of diverse body types than others. Honestly, if you're consistently uncomfortable at the gym you currently attend, instead of trying to convince yourself that you're imagining things, try going at a different time, or even checking out a different gym. (Believe it or not, there are gym chains, which shall remain nameless, that are the fitness equivalent of Abercrombie and Fitch. But there are also awesomely non-judgmental gyms like Planet Fitness.) Or borrow a DVD from the library and see how that works for you. Just do what you need to do to keep moving.

Edited by: ANNEMARGO at: 5/28/2013 (13:20)
ALEXINAT Posts: 26
5/28/13 6:39 A

Good morning everyone! I have a similar story, and for the longest time stayed away from working out at a gym. I have been very self conscious since my teen years, and it took a lot of encouragement from friends to go the first time. I can tell you that from my experience, people who are at the gym are so focused on what they are doing they hardly notice you. My fears of being so different from everyone were all born from my own insecurities, and those were what I had to work through in order to get over my big bad self.

DMARTIN302 SparkPoints: (76,289)
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5/27/13 10:55 P

I'll echo what everyone else says: most people are focusing on themselves, and if they look like they're looking at you, they are either zoned out, impressed with what you're doing, or admiring your effort.

I'm 50 and overweight, and resisted joining a gym. I've never been athletically inclined, and I certainly didn't want to join the local fitness complex/spa with all the gorgeous soccer moms who stand around and judge each other (they did this while chaperoning marching band rehearsals and Girl Scout events, why stop when they are at the gym that they always talk about?). Then I found a wellness center that is part of a hospital where outpatient physical therapy and cardiac rehab is done as well as being a gym for members. There were few people there that night I went to see it, so it seemed less intimidating. Those that were there were a nice variety of real people, with real shapes (mostly "round") in t-shirts and sweatpants -- not fancy workout clothes.

I started going in the morning and found that I was one of the youngest people there. There were cardiac patients, stroke patients, and others working with doctors and therapists to recover from some fairly extreme health problems (problems that run in my family and I might be able to prevent if I were to get fit). Then there were the people that were clearly regulars, having a great time briefly chatting with others, including staff. I've since learned that they were previously patients and stayed on as members. There are a few people who "look" fit, but most look like, well, real people, with normal jiggles, sags, and bulges. And when I took my first core class, these septuagenarians KICKED MY BUTT! They were able to do things that they didn't look like they could. They taught me that fitness doesn't "look" like anything. There are "pretty people" that couldn't do the reverse curls, bird dogs, and planks that these rather average-looking seniors can do. They never cease to inspire me! And when I find out what health and life issues these people have overcome...they inspire me even more.

Once I got to know them, they've been nothing but completely supportive when I started seven months ago and looked and felt like an overweight turtle on its back. Now I'm holding my own, and they are all really proud of me for sticking with it and consistently improving. And I'm so proud of them and their efforts -- still outdoing me because they are so fit, but I'm catching up!

When I joined, I drew the line at swimming. Not going to go through the indignity of finding a bathing suit, wrestling into it in front of others in the locker room, or subjecting others to looking at my flab once in the pool. Nope, not going to do it. Ever. Until I got swim lessons from my husband last Christmas. My instructor is AWESOME and made me feel like an Olympian! And y'know what? If that woman in her 80's with a double mastectomy and open heart surgery scar can change in front of others, why should I worry about what I look like? Or the morbidly obese women (there are several), who clearly don't look like swimsuit models but get into the pool and do a challenging workout three times a week? Why should I be ashamed of myself, when these women have greater obstacles and are working very hard to become healthier?

I went from someone who didn't want to go to the gym and utterly refused to swim to someone who spends about 16 hours a week at the gym (8 in exercise, 8 more in changing, waiting for lanes or exercise bikes, etc.). I'm now a swimmer, and the core class has given me a six-pack that's still in it's rather generous soft-sided cooler. The support I've received (and have given back) was instrumental in me finishing my first triathlon last month!

I'm certainly not a size 0 fit person. But I wear my spandex workout shorts proudly. No, it's not the most attractive picture, but I'm not at the gym to impress anyone. They are comfortable, compressing my flab so I don't chafe. I'm there for ME, and those people who I thought would judge me are now part of a big support group. It was eye opening for me.

No, not all gyms are like this. But I'd suggest trying a class or two and seeing if you can find an acquaintance or two. It helps to know that there's a friendly face in the gym. And until you find them...know that YOU are there for you, and think of all your SparkFriends cheering you on!

RENEEGADE SparkPoints: (44,020)
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5/27/13 10:00 P

I don't work out at a gym. I had a gym membership at a nice gym but I just don't like working out with a bunch of people. So far I have collected a fair number of work out dvds and do a lot of walking. This works just fine for me and I am happier than working out at home than in a gym.

A home gym is great, I have hand weights, a bike stand for my bike to keep it stationary, a stepper, etc. It's more of a hobby for me to find supplies for my home gym. I also recently purchased a fit bit for tracking miles and calories.

There are many different avenues to exercising you just have to find the one that works for your lifestyle and personality. Not everyone is meant to work out at a gym, it's great for some while not so great for others. If you want to work out around others, I would do so gradually, perhaps just taking a workout class at a local community center or getting a personal fitness trainer. All depends upon your goals and pocketbook.

SUMMERBRIDE17 SparkPoints: (1,116)
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5/27/13 9:46 P

BELDAME, I read this and it sounded like something I've been saying for a long time! I'm a compulsive before and after machine wiper and people are annoyed that I will not work out with a workout buddy! I thought I was the only one in the world who felt like it would drag me down to rely on someone else to hold my hand at the gym! I love to go at different times of day and for different time periods and I want to use whatever machine I want without having to worry about being with that person. Plus I get too out of breath if I try to carry a conversation while exercising! I'm all for people who enjoy working out together, it's just not for me and I'm glad other people understand why I feel that way!

SUMMERBRIDE17 SparkPoints: (1,116)
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5/27/13 9:33 P

I totally understand! I was well over 300 pounds when I joined a gym and I would feel like everyone was watching me.... but I bring along my music, pop in my earphones and crank it up, or I watch the television or read things on my phone. I try not to pay attention to anybody else. Sometimes people glance at you and it's a normal thing, and a lot of times they aren't even thinking about you. What matters most is that you are there to take care of yourself!

MAMAJAHMAI Posts: 1,310
5/27/13 8:17 P

I prayed and asked God for Grace. I knew I had to get healthy for my family and for me. And I knew It was a fight for my life. At 6 feet tall, it's almost an everyday thing to be stared at. I always ask God to help me train and to "own" His image in me. Now, this September will mark 2 years of consistent attendance. There's only one YOU. You deserve every bit of health life and happiness. Don't let anything stand in your way.

MYOWNHERO Posts: 1,157
5/27/13 8:04 P

It took a while but I now feel comfortable at the gym and I go regularly and I have to say...I really enjoy it! But I remember how hard it was to get started! Here are the things that helped me:

1. I joined Planet Fitness (judgement free zone is their motto)
2. My first visits were simple. My goal would be something fast and easy, like "walk on a treadmill for 3 minutes, use the restroom and leave"
3. Take your music with you. I use my phone with headphones. Put on your favorite songs and concentrate on that.
4. Often I would close my eyes during the exercise to block other people out. I don't need to do that anymore.
5. Try not to judge other people. Assume the best about them. That hot chick might not be shallow and vain. The massive bodybuilder might not be a bully. They are just people who probably have the same problems and dreams as anyone.

It was hard at first but each time you go, it gets easier. I never thought I would say I love going to the gym, but I do! I feel ten feet tall when I walk out of there.

Edited by: MYOWNHERO at: 5/27/2013 (20:05)
ICAMP2 SparkPoints: (5,962)
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5/27/13 7:10 P

I don't go to the gym but I do run at the local park and tend to see the same women each week... of course they are all fit and fabulous and well... I am not LOL! I have found myself slowing down or walking a different way to avoid them altogether and I KNOW it is in my head but its hard to shake... I keep thinking "am I running right?" "is my form right??"

No real advice but just to hang in there.... it will get better!! I keep teling myself that and I am starting to see some ... SOME improvement...

MI-ELLKAYBEE SparkPoints: (228,267)
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5/27/13 4:50 P

I'm fine with long sleeves and tight leggings. Arms are thin, but skin is not tight.

TACOMALO Posts: 675
5/27/13 1:13 P

I just joined Planet Fitness yesterday. Joined because they have many locations around the country and I travel for work. However, based on your concerns, I would recommend seeing if they have one close to you and going in to have them give you a tour.

The whole concept is based around it being cheap, and having a "no judgement" policy. When there is "No Judgement" messaged all over the gym, you can be sure that the type of people who go there are not looking to judge. They even have changing rooms in the locker rooms if you prefer more privacy.

The equipment is geared more towards "normal" people, not bodybuilders. So the clientele reflects this. At least this is what I have seen. the end of the day, it is just something you need to power through. You MAY get some glances, but 90% of people at any gym are there to exercise. And if you are like me, someone who is very overweight, the judgments we get placed on us in our day-to-day lives are much worse, much harsher, and have much more impact on our lives than some fleeting glances at the gym.

As a previous poster noted (great advice), take those gym stares and OWN them!

Also, I promise you, after a very short period of time, you'll not be concerned about this at all.

Good luck!

Edited by: TACOMALO at: 5/27/2013 (13:20)
FITVENTI Posts: 52
5/27/13 11:22 A

The best thing I was told when I started out was the gym is just a place where fat people go to get skinny; when you consider that no one started out looking like a Grecian olympian, and that everyone there is just like you only months into the future, it's not so bad.

I love to walk into the weight room like I own the place too. As a woman I LOVE it when the burly dudes give me the side eye like I can't lift anything. It motivates me to keep working on my form and how much I take on every week.

DETOX55 SparkPoints: (1,380)
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5/27/13 4:02 A

Don't worry....everyone feels a bit weird when starting out...there isn't really anything for it but just to keep going...even fit people joining a new gym can feel a bit out of place initially...

SUNNYGARDEN1 SparkPoints: (1,293)
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5/27/13 12:39 A

I am overseas on a military base and if I want to use the gym, I have to go where all the military members go. Ugh! Haven't worked up the courage yet, since no matter what anyone says about people not noticing you, when you have a person who needs to take off major weight and is huffing and puffing next to you, you will notice!!

GRAPHICS2 Posts: 13,944
5/27/13 12:10 A

I haven't been to the gym in years ( I am doing other things to improve my fitness.).
I was very uncomfortable.. I felt very intimidated by all those machines. At the time I just felt it was something else I didn't follow through on.

PUGGLEMONKEY SparkPoints: (13,087)
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5/26/13 4:13 P

To all who are self conscious at the gym or working out in public in general, I still feel your pain, but I think I am getting better at dealing with it. Originally my problem was with my lack of fitness and weight. Now 20+ pounds down (though more to go) and more fit, those issues are less in the forefront, but have been replaced by a different one. Namely, I sweat A LOT on my head and face. Rest of body is normal, but face and head (where it is very visible) is way worse than most and I'm quite self conscious about it. I usually work out at home, but like to throw in outside hikes at a local park that has hills for variety and challenge. This is Georgia, so quite humid and you can imagine the rest. Add in area has unusual number of fit people etc. etc.
I haven't had any negative comments, but my mantra has become: Who cares what these strangers think. They are not important people in my life and will not likely have any major effect on my life unless I let them. They won't remember me 5 minutes from now, as I'm not any more important to them than they are to me. My friendly smile and greeting given in a genuine way will have more of an impact on most than my looks ever will. As for those few who might only notice my sweat - they have more issues than I ever will and will someday be defeated by time and Mother Nature no matter what they do. Karma will get 'em, so why waste my time worrying about it. Hang in there all!

DAVINAJM SparkPoints: (9,287)
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5/26/13 1:33 P

I'm one of those people who just don't care what people think of me (for the most part). But I try to understand where others come from.

When I was 50 lbs over weight and started out walking on our local Trail, I needed to take it slow because well...I was carrying an extra 50 lbs...I tried to pick it up and jog a little and I remember two young very slim women speed walking past me as I was jogging (or trying to) and I overheard them say some comment about how I might as well be walking because I was jogging so slow.

I could have let that make me self conscious or feel defeated. But, I sure as h*ll wasn't going to let someone's stares or snarky comments make me shy away from my goals. Long story short, I worked my way slowly to being, at this point in time, 37 lbs lighter and a helluva lot faster.

I just hope that when at the gym you can workout in peace and feel comfortable. Just remember that most people are there trying to work on themselves, just like you.

LUNAMEOWER SparkPoints: (1,840)
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5/25/13 2:11 A

I haven't read everyone's replies, there are a lot, I'm working on it, so if I repeat things that everyone is saying, please forgive me. I used to get discouraged when I would go for a walk and someone might yell out their window, "Hey fatty, grab a bag of chips and get back to the couch!" yes, that really happened, but at the gym I find that people are just focusing on themselves or are even willing to give some help. I have a deformity of my right arm and some exercises are harder for me to do because of range of motion, but I've had some bodybuilders come up and give me some tips on using the weight machines or free weights, that really made me feel comfortable. I guess it just comes down to keep thinking that this is for you and not to worry about the other people at the gym, everyone has their own struggles, that chick with the hot bod could still have a crappy life to deal with in other areas.

5/24/13 5:47 P

I go to the pool primarily to swim right now, although I intend to add weight machines to the mix soon. I know what you mean by feeling self-conscious. I am always the slowest swimmer in the pool. Sure there are non-swimmers in there working out and there are aerobics classes, range of motion classes, and water yoga. All of these are fine but I like to swim laps. I just always get lapped. I just try to concentrate on my form, and how good it feels, and how much vitality I am bringing into my life.
I am also a member of Rex Wellness Center. There are young hot people there but they are by no means in the majority.

Edited by: CLARISSABOND at: 5/24/2013 (17:49)
BELDAME SparkPoints: (83,798)
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5/24/13 4:56 P

I am not self-conscious at the gym; I'm there to get my hour in and push myself, and I don't give a rat's arse what anyone else thinks.

What I hate about the gym is a)people who don't wipe down the machines, and b)workout buddies.
Oh, how I hate workout buddies. (Middle-aged haus-fraus, teenaged boys, and boyfriend/girlfriend teams, it seems. Bleah.)
Working out with a pal, at least as I have observed it, has got to be the most ineffectual way to work out. Sitting on the machines chatting between sets, chatting on the treadmills/arcs/ellipticals, laying on the mats chatting isn't getting them anywhere, and they're in the way of people who are actually there to work.

SHAREBEAR1963 Posts: 1,778
5/24/13 10:32 A

I am a size 2 and hate going to the gym!!

I love working out in my home gym in the basement. I live in rural America and have lots of space, so I am very fortunate for that.

I know some people love the gym, but I find that I don't accomplish much and I don't give 100%. The time it takes running back and forth is enough time alone to do a workout, so I never go and my husband actually works for a Y.

5/24/13 8:31 A

Here are my thoughts on this, some people love the gym and can't work out anywhere else, others hate it. I am closer to the "hate" end of that spectrum because I do feel some of what you're describing here. It took me a while to find the right sort of exercise that I was comfortable with and worked for me, and that's what you need to do. I am a member of a gym simply because I need their equipment to assist with my strength training, but all my cardio is done mainly outside with a running group and that's where I feel more at home and comfortable. I know running might be outside your abilities right now but what about a walking group? The Running Room in my city offers a walking group, they meet talk about how to exercise properly, and do practice walks 3 times a week. I've met some wonderful people at this store, and it might be a good option for you. Their clinics alway start slow and build gradually, which really helps when you're starting out.

The gym is definitely intimidating, even now at my smaller size (I went from a size 18 to a 12), I still feel self-conscious from time to time, but I am there for no other reason than to make myself stronger, and that's what I focus on.

Stay strong and keep on moving, no matter where you do it! :)

THOMPSON3815 SparkPoints: (4,118)
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5/24/13 7:29 A

I was going gym I didn't loss no I have my own gym I loss 6 pound.i work out 5 days week now.

FLAMEGLIMMER SparkPoints: (48,147)
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5/24/13 3:48 A

The thing is, most people at the gym aren't paying attention to anyone but themselves. And the people who are paying attention to others, well yeah, some of them are judging you and everyone else that they see. For whatever reason, some people only feel good about themselves if they're making harsh judgements and assumptions about other people. But rest assured, they're not only judging you, they're judging everyone else as well. Haters are gonna hate, and judgers are gonna judge, and their opinions in no way reflect your value as a person.

BEACH_NUT SparkPoints: (38,971)
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5/23/13 11:23 P

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”...Eleanor Roosevelt

When I go to the gym, I focus on ME. I don't go to the gym to meet people or to show off or to see how I compare. Exercise helps me feel energetic, alive, engaged, makes me feel good both physically & mentally. I go to the gym for my own health and well-being. I keep my mind on my work-out instead of worrying who is watching my butt jiggle, comparing themselves to me, etc. Those things may quite possibly be happening, but I cannot stop them from happening, nor do they change my purpose for being at the gym.

The only person you need to compare yourself to is to who you have been. The only person you need to be better than is who you are now. Once you stop comparing yourself with others, you will then be free to stand in your own light.

PELAGIC Posts: 473
5/23/13 8:47 P

I always want to tell bigger people working out at the gym that I think they're awesome and admire them, but I feel that would be intrusive and come across perhaps as condescending? I can't be entirely sure, but I have a feeling that if anyone had said it when I was 50lbs heavier, I might have felt that way - and that I was singled out for comment. On the other hand, when my weight started to come down, I really *did* appreciate the "you go girl" comments from the gym staff and other members. It's not easy to determine as it can depend on where your head is and how the comment is delivered as to how you react. Mostly I just keep my eyes on the equipment I'm using or the instructor and remind myself it's none of my business - although I do try to smile at others in a warm way, as I know my default expression can look a bit grim and it might be thought I was being judgey.

Only time I wasn't able to hold back was actually on a run - a huge, awful, 1km climb...and there was this bigger girl who was hot, sweaty, struggling and with a pained expression...but not giving up. And it was just so gutsy I had to say something as I went past - about 1.) what an awful hill it was and how much I hated it and 2.) "Good on yer!" She smiled and agreed...I hope it didn't come across as patronising rather than the message I wanted to convey, which was "you are awesome and courageous".

SNIC23 SparkPoints: (23,697)
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Posts: 368
5/23/13 7:11 P

While I have not experienced exactly what you are dealing with, I can tell you from my younger days right before I became a (temporary-2-year) fitness junkie that I did feel very self conscious when I first joined an all women's gym. I was very thin and wanted to build muscle because I felt like I looked like a stick. (Boy, I miss those days!) Anyway, when I first joined I felt like the ladies who were heavier than I was were looking down on me, like what was I doing there or that I didn't have any business being there. I finally got over it and started conversations with people and realized they were friendly. If they were judging me they weren't about to say it. I finally learned how to use the machines and do the exercises properly with help from an instructor. Whenever I would see another woman in the gym that seemed to be struggling or unsure about how to use a piece of equipment I would ask if she wanted some help or I would make a comment about how I learned to use it.

As long as we're alive it isn't too late to start striving towards getting healthy. If somebody judges you because you don't have a perfect body that's their problem. I am always happy to see people begin a fitness plan. You have to start somewhere and there's no time like now to get started.

Maybe some workout DVD's or the fitness videos on SparkPeople would be helpful until you feel more comfortable going through some of the movements. Hand weights are handy to start with.

Just remember, nobody is born knowing how to use some of the contraptions at the gym and nobody was born at the gym with a perfect body. It takes a lot of time and dedication. You can feel your body change fast so don't give up!


ELISARA2005 Posts: 111
5/23/13 6:32 P

I'm a mostly confident person but I honestly hate the thought of people sniggering at me. I'd rather have someone say something to my face than titter behind me. I've been trying to gather the courage to join a gym this summer since I've only got one class going. I've been trying to talk myself out of it. Mostly for the snicker factor. Than I went into Target and saw XXL yoga pants in that nice soft shiny material that all the skinny girls wear. They were also on clearance. It was a sign for me. These shiny pants *that I'm wearing at the moment :)* make me WANT to move, even if there is extra jiggle back there.

The whole point of that is, find something that makes you feel good. A song, a pair of pants, some funky socks. Anyhting that makes you feel good and go for it. Anyone who is in a gym and tries to look down on you, is either there just to be seen or has problems that you cannot fix. So why dread what THEY think? Be beautiful inside and it will shine out.

ANNEMARGO Posts: 450
5/23/13 6:20 P

When I feel as if I'm being laughed at or that I don't belong, I find it useful to borrow something my daughter learned in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy--the question "what evidence do I have for that thought?" Nine times out of ten, there is no evidence to back the thought up, and so I can say "okay, that's an irrational thought, I'll just ignore it." And if there is evidence, I ask myself "does it matter?" If it does, "how can I fix it so I can continue doing this?" It helps quite a bit. (I actually had a horrible experience at a gym, partially because at that point I was discounting my feelings and ignoring some very plain signals that there was something wrong. With this method, I'm able to control self-consciousness without sacrificing my sense of self-preservation.)

KRISTINCASA SparkPoints: (20,677)
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Posts: 153
5/23/13 3:55 P

It's interesting that I came upon this because I've been feeling like this lately at the gym. I have an ok time in regards to my cardio, and have every intention of doing the strength training machines - but every time I muster up the courage to go over to them I just give up and go home. I don't want to, but I get anxious as well. I also am just a curvy girl and I know how to use the machines I just get this anxiety that I will be judged.

I give a lot of credit to my best friend - she is training for her second fitness competition and had the most confidence at the gym using the machines, going up to complete strangers asking to borrow specific weights she needs. One day maybe I will be like her, until then it's baby steps. We just have to go into those situations with the thoughts that we pay that gym membership just like everyone else, we are all there for the same reason, and we will ROCK out workouts emoticon

UUNIQUUEE SparkPoints: (5,422)
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5/23/13 3:54 P

HILLSLUG98239.... Excellent Motivator.... Keep Sharing emoticon

NGREGOR SparkPoints: (16,523)
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Posts: 728
5/23/13 12:04 P

Everyone at the fitness center believes the “flaws” they see in their mirror actually exist. Reality check. No one cares about your flaws. The remarkable thing is everyone at the fitness center is willing to bare their own personal demon flaws. There are all kinds of clichés and motivational one-liners meant to erase negative feelings about yourself. Some work, some don’t. Two that work for me are: Program your mind with positive thoughts, and Associate with a network of positive people.

You are remarkable because you are doing what you need to do. If anyone is watching you at the gym, it is because they admire what you are doing. I suspect you are generally a rather shy person, but next time you notice someone looking at you, strike up a non-invasive conversation. Just mention that what you are doing is a real challenge for you. Or, if your gym/center has machines, ask the person about using the machine. Everyone knows how to walk, but what are all of those treadmill settings. Read some of the SP motivational statements under the Articles and Videos tab, center column Motivation Features, item #4 Inspirational Quotes. You might find 1 or 2 that will give you a little extra boost.
emoticon emoticon

LOVEPURPLE2 SparkPoints: (6,573)
Fitness Minutes: (8,357)
Posts: 500
5/22/13 11:07 P

There were a lot of great replies on this topic. HLKLJGK, I loved that quote, I'm going to borrow it if you don't mind. DRIEDOUT, where do you teach, I would like to come to one of your classes. TAXANDRIA, my offering to you is what I do. I loaded up my iPod with several playlists of motivational music. When I go to the gym, I put the earbuds in, turn up the volume and get into a zone. The only people's opinions who count are the people who care about you. You are working to make yourself healthy and fit and that's all that matters. Keep at it and don't care what other people think.

5/22/13 9:01 P

During my favourite group fitness class at the gym I'm usually only one of maybe two people who are very overweight. I don't feel people staring at me at all. I also noticed that for every person who avoids eye contact during group interactions, there are four or five smiling, encouraging ones.

CBLENS SparkPoints: (47,498)
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Posts: 1,220
5/22/13 5:58 P

others are happy that you are doing something healthy for yourself. No one judges you at the gym.

SCCRSTTR2 Posts: 19
5/22/13 5:27 P

Live by two rules:
1.) Rock out with cock out ...(be out and open no shame)
2.) Shake it till you make it... (works with ice cream or your body you choose)

Just do it. Don't sweat the looks and people who sya no one cares and no one is looking are lying. They are. They are saying mean terrible things or they are thinking it. The only thing is we have to deal with it. You have to be conformatable in your own skin and ignore the haters. It is what it is people suck but you don't have to. Don't sweat the stares Sweat on the stairs...Haha! I made a funny :P

Good luck and keep moving!

HILLSLUG98239 SparkPoints: (44,802)
Fitness Minutes: (87,555)
Posts: 1,151
5/22/13 4:49 P

BronxBabe is right - there are fit people watching you who admire you. Some of those fit people used to be very large people who had trouble maintaining a 2.5 mph pace. I'm a large but fairly fit person. I'd be the one at gym who makes eye contact with you, smiles, and says "hi" because I want you to know you're welcome.

When you've had a good day at the gym, write down what made it a good day. (Make a blog post here - it'll help people who feel just like you realize they're not alone.) When you've had a bad day, ask yourself what made it a bad day. Was the gym really busy? Did you feel like you were in people's "way" because you were using a treadmill and others may have been waiting? Remember that you're making a lot of assumptions about what people are thinking. You can chose to assume they're thinking positive things about you (wow! she's here as often as me - I admire her!), that they're thinking negative things about you, or that they're thinking about something that happened at work and it has nothing to do with you. Since it's all a guess, why not go for what's behind curtain number one?

I may never meet you, but know that I admire you. You're not accepting your fate; you're taking positive steps to change it.

INNERBEAUTY78 Posts: 217
5/22/13 3:46 P

SIMPLELIFE2 - Thank you for the suggestion. I will have to check out a few places.

KELLY_R Posts: 3,098
5/22/13 2:48 P

Read carefully and repeat after me:

"What you think of me is none of my business."

I used to have serious social anxiety, too - but found that it was all in relation to other issues I've had in my life growing up. I attend regular support groups that deal with those kind of feelings (low self-esteem, social anxiety, feeling like a victim, wanting to control everything around me, etc.) and that phrase above is one of the good ones I've learned.

Really it ISN'T any of my business what others think of me. Whatever feelings those people have, its their feelings to deal with, not mine.

You're right - most people at the gym are there to get there workout done and get out. You are ALSO right - yeah, there are people there sizing other people up and judging them. But that stuff happens even if you're walking through the parking lot. It's just what people do.

To be frank, you're already judging them, too. Maybe it's not about their appearance, but you're already judging that that guy in the corner glancing your way is thinking something negative about you. But really, you don't know because you don't live in his head - but your anxiety is judgement of others, too. Hope that makes sense.

If you can coach yourself to stop being concerned about other people's opinions of you, you'll start feeling less anxiety in such situations as the gym.

Just remind yourself you're in there for you - not anyone else.

Edited by: KELLY_R at: 5/22/2013 (14:51)

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