The gym is the ultimate experience in intimidation.
If you've never worked out before and feel self-conscious about your jiggly thighs or stomach, those clanking weight machines and whooshing treadmills are enough to cause a quasi-panic attack.
When I first started hitting the gym, way back in college, I fought the urge to cry every time someone looked at me.
Interestingly, though, it's not just the fit people casting judgement at the gym. Everybody participates in body-shaming.
In an Imgur post upvoted more than 18,000 times, lady weightlifter SauceOfTheBoss shares her story of being “fit-shamed” at the gym.
When Chris and I first started working out at the Rec, we were judged hardcore. Someone even posted on Facebook about the 'buff couple' and how they 'thought they're hot shit because they wear their belts all the time.' This was about two months after my back surgery and I did indeed wear my lifting belt during almost all of my workouts for support. My point is, everyone gets judged. People don't bother to understand where you're coming from or why you do the things you do.
You can practically own the gym, attend religiously and still feel like you're not welcome. But maybe the problem is your own attitude, not everyone else's.
So, assume everyone is hitting the elliptical to feel their best, realize they have a totally different bodies than you and go about your business.
SauceOfTheBoss continued her post, writing,
That overweight guy? Someone judges him because of his weight, but little do they know he's already lost 100 pounds and has changed his entire life around. That guy with the skinny legs? He's had seven knee surgeries and he's currently trying to strengthen his legs. It's just a long hard process. That skinny girl you think 'really needs to eat'? She's actually super self conscious about her thin figure & has been trying to gain weight, but her metabolism is super high.
The post, which continues at length, breaks down a dozen situations in which appearances don't match the internal struggles at all.
The takeaway: Above all, the gym is a place for respect.
Instead of body-shaming, look around the room and appreciate the fact that every single person won an internal battle that day and showed up. Fit or not, you deserve a good — and nonjudgemental — workout.