You Don't Have to "Look" Fit to Get Fit
Working out at the gym can be quite the undertaking for someone who is dealing with body image and weight issues.
I remember there was a time when I wanted to use the treadmills at the gym, but I was too ashamed of my body type and fitness level. I didn’t like running on the treadmill because:
- I knew my endurance was low, and I didn’t want to look stupid switching between running and walking (mostly walking).
- I felt that while running, I’d be jiggling all over the place and others would notice.
This fear of embarrassment has followed me since my childhood. This fear often prevented me from trying new things. I’ve always been a chubby girl, so I’m no stranger to rude comments and bullying. As I’ve grown and matured, so has my confidence, but this fear still resurfaces from time to time.
It may sound silly to you if you haven’t dealt with these types of insecurities, but I’ve heard this sentiment from many women who go to the gym. I recall one plus-size girl saying that she didn’t like using the free weights at her gym because that was the section where all of the “brawlic” guys were and she didn’t want them to judge her.
It’s sad that people don’t feel comfortable in an environment that should promote body positivity. The gym is for all fitness levels, not just the people who look like your typical fitness model. Whatever the reason for the embarrassment, we’ve got to let it go.
I like to incorporate a mix of workouts in my routine, and using equipment that I don’t have access to at home is part of why I go to the gym.
Remember Why You’re At The Gym
Last week, I went to my gym after work. I was excited to participate in a group class that I had been wanting to try, called “mini chisel.” I love full-body workouts that incorporate both cardio and strength training. When I went to the locker room, I discovered, to my dismay, that I had packed my leggings, sports bra, and sneakers, but had forgotten to pack a shirt. Reason 700 why I need to take care of things at night instead of in the mornings. I sat on the bench and debated skipping the class and heading home. I didn’t want to go to the class in just my sports bra because I was concerned about what the other people would think. Would they think I was trying to show off? Was my food baby too big today? I just decided, you know what, I’m going to participate in this class, and who cares if anybody else doesn’t like what I’m wearing. I’m here to work on my fitness and do something productive for myself. I decided to care more about myself and less about other people’s unwarranted discomfort.
So What If You Don’t Know What You’re Doing
If you feel incompetent at the gym, and you’re concerned that others will notice, either learn as you go or simply ask for help. If you’re not in a place where you can afford a personal trainer, there are usually coaches at the gym who can offer advice, show you how to use the machines and demonstrate what exercises you can do with dumbbells, kettlebells and stability balls. Google is a great resource too.
There’s a learning curve when it comes to exercising. Even floor exercises like push-ups and planks can be challenging for people who are new to exercise. Believe me, over time, you will become better at exercising and learning how to challenge yourself. Sometimes if you’re doing something wrong, someone may even come and show you how to properly perform an exercise. There are some good people out there, and if they’re really committed to fitness, they want to see everyone win. You will get there. Believe in your power to transform.
What If I Told You Nobody Was Paying You Any Mind?
When we overthink, we create problems that just do not exist. I would hope that people go to the gym to focus on their fitness and not to judge others. I see people in the gym, but I’m not really concerned with what they’re doing or what they’re wearing. I’m not keeping track of how long someone is on a machine. When I look around, nobody is looking at me. Sometimes it’s all in your head, girl!
Reward Yourself With Cute Outfits
We feel good when we look good. On the days when I do remember to bring all of my gym clothes, I try to bring outfits that I look good in. Activewear can get pricey, but you don’t have to shop IVY Park and Nike to get cute clothes. Many retailers, like Target and Old Navy, offer affordable options. Every once in a while, I reward myself with a better fitting sports bra, or a figure-flattering pair of patterned leggings. My next gift to myself will be a new pair of running shoes.
I know that not everyone likes fitted clothes, but they can help show you the progress you’re making. I’m all about bumming it in some baggy sweats and a faded college tee at the gym every now and then, but a gym wardrobe can really make you feel cute and more encouraged as you sashay to that elliptical, girl.
I hope that we can learn to exude confidence no matter where we are in our fitness journey. Social media and society’s standards tend to influence what we think “fitness” looks like. I was so excited to see Jessamyn Stanley, a plus-size yogi, partnering up with U by Kotex to do a commercial for menstrual products. Representation truly matters.
Let’s get to a place in 2018 where we can let go of what we THINK others think about us. My reasons for being at the gym will always trump my insecurities. Don’t be ashamed, ladies! Get out there.