For those of you that don’t know, the gym is not the friend of someone who is overweight. Shocking, I know! There is a very important reason for this. And it all leads back to comfort! But we can break it down further than that.
- The Stares. When you are overweight it can be scary going to the gym. Being large, rounded, pleasantly plumb, horizontally challenged (however you like to put it) when you walk into a gym you expect all eyes to be on you. Even if they aren’t you can still feel them on you. It is all in your head but it sure seems real. The irony of it is my eyes usually end up on everyone else expecting their eyes to be looking at me. So I guess that completely flips things, doesn’t it? By feeling like I’m the one being gawked at, I in turn end up being the gawker. Well…..that’s not entirely accurate. It’s more like scanning. I am just scanning the area to see if anyone is looking at me. I expect them to be looking at me in disgust, in judgement, in pity, in disbelief. Yet honestly, the looks aren’t there. The funny thing about gyms is if people are there it is usually for a purpose. Everyone is there for a reason and they are focused on what they are doing. Not on you. Whew! One challenge down.
- Fear of Looking Stupid! Overweight and regular gym attendance just don’t seem to go together. Generally speaking many people who are overweight don’t have much gym experience. Gyms have a lot of equipment. If you’re not familiar with it, then you can be overwhelmed! Worse yet, you already feel like everyone is staring at you and now you’re about to attempt to use gym equipment and you have no clue what you are doing. Sure – that sounds like a party waiting to happen! Well, entertainment anyway for everyone else there. The good news? Let’s refer back to what we found out in point #1 – everyone is involved in what they are doing. They likely won’t even notice your first attempt. In addition, thankfully, gyms have personal trainers and staff who know the equipment and are there to help you. I know, I know….refer back to point #1. You think they are staring and judging as well. This is their job though. They are there to help. They help people of all shapes and sizes. Why would you be any different? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Fear of How You Look Exercising! We’ve all heard the “fat” people cliches….it felt like an earthquake when they ran; the fat was rippling like waves on the ocean; etc. So when you want to put in a little more effort the fear can grip you like you gripped that last doughnut you ate! If you run on the treadmill it will sound like a herd of elephants and those around you will have to hold on for dear life to keep from being bounced off of theirs. Your fat is going to flap around like a flag blowing in the wind. Guess what folks – refer back to point #1….everyone is too busy w/ what they are doing to notice you.
The truth of it is going to the gym can be very frightening for someone like me! Take today for instance. I went to the gym during my lunch. I saw several familiar faces that are usually there around the same time. Most there were women (and they were kicking butt might I add!). I knew those that were there would not pass judgement upon me. I felt safe. Then I went back after work and everything changed. This time there was only 1 other female (not overweight by the way – very toned) and several men with large muscles and well built (not the usual familiar faces). They were in the free weight area and I was on the treadmill. And I was intimidated. I felt unworthy to be there. I felt like I didn’t belong. I felt out of place. I was ready to be done and leave as quickly as possible. But if I gave up and left the only person I hurt is me. If I give in to my fear, I am the one who loses. I had to hush the voices in my head – the ones who have been with me most of my life – and realize I was the one making myself feel that way. It wasn’t them that was looking down on me and insulting me. No, I was doing that to myself! That can be hard to face. The bullies aren’t always on the outside. They are often on the inside as well.
Yes, going to the gym can be very frightening. But it can also be worth it. You see, every step I take on the treadmill, every weight I lift, every moment of my effort at the gym is worth it because I am making progress. Progress I have never made before. Progress I could be missing out on. Is it scary? Yes! Is it worth it? Yes! I leave feeling better, more energized, and accomplished. When I complete a workout and I leave for once the bullies in my head are silenced. They are silenced by the pride I feel for having done this. To gym, or not to gym. That is the question. And for me the answer is simple – hi ho, hi ho, it’s to the gym I go…..