Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Gym

When I travel for work I like to use the hotel gyms. I don't currently have a gym membership so it is almost fun to go to the gym. Note I said almost. Tonight when I was at the gym I started thinking about some of my experiences in the gym over the years (I forgot my iPod and the boredom was killing me).

I can actually remember the first time I went to a gym. I was 16 and my high school best friend and I decided we wanted to lose some weight (so the boys would like us of course). Our small town didn't actually have a gym, so the next time my mum went into the big smoke we tagged along and asked her to drop us off at the gym and pick us up in 2 hours. My mum was concerned and decided she better take us in and check the whole thing out. She then proceeded to humiliate us by asking the hot young guy at the desk if we should be exercising for 2 hours because we really we weren't fit enough. He looked us over and agreed.

So after my mum finally left we went into the cardio room and I decided to try using the treadmill. My friend stood beside me while we tried to work out how to start it. There were 2 hot skinny girls in their 20's who noticed my confusion and were 'helpful' enough to tell me to "Push start and then set it to level 6 because that is the beginners level". I did as she said and promptly went flying off the back of the treadmill and onto the floor while they collapsed in fits of giggles. On my way out I looked over at their screen and noticed that they were jogging on level 6 and that it was clearly not a beginners level. So that was my first (but certainly not my last) experience with gym moles. We decided after the treadmill that it would be safer for us to go and sit in the spa.

After we finished our 'work-out' we went and waited in the car park for my mum to pick us up. We were red in the face from the exercise and embarrassment of the whole experience. Then we spied a girl from our high school class walking up to the door. She was one of those popular girls who was skinny, athletic and pretty and we just knew she would have a field day with seeing us fat losers at a gym. So we did what anyone would do, we hid in the bushes until she went inside. Of course that was the same moment my mum turned up and just looked at us and said "I don't want to know".

It was years after that until I went back to the gym. They can be a minefield for overweight people and have had my share of embarrassing experiences. There was the time I got stuck in a machine. You know that machine you put your thighs in and open and close your legs to build your inner thigh muscles? Well the machine somehow got locked in while my legs were wide open and I couldn't get out until I called someone over to unlock it. There was also the time when I was joined a new gym and they had to give me a fitness test and couldn't find a pulse band that was big enough to go around me and were so puzzled because they had never had anyone as big as me. I almost left then and didn't come back. The time I joined a diet program at the gym and the leader told me I had to learn to cook healthy meals for my future husband. I told her I didn't care to cook for my future husband and she asked me in a very worried tone if I was a lesbian. Not to mention when the fitball burst while I was doing a sit-up and I fell flat on my back. I still don't trust those things.

I laugh about it all now, but to be honest, in the hundreds of times I have been to the gym over the past 10 years there is probably not a time when I haven't felt self conscious and like I didn't belong there. It only takes a disgusted look from a gym bunny or a clumsy attempt to learn a new piece of equipment or for me to glimpse my rolls of fat in the mirror and I start to doubt myself and my right to be there. Even tonight when I was on the exercise bike I started thinking what the skinny girl on the elliptical behind me must be thinking of my huge arse. I wondered if she was using me as inspiration to keep going so she doesn't turn out like me. I wonder if the day will ever come when I can walk into a gym and feel like I deserve to be there as much as anyone else.


  1. OMG! What complete bitches! Plus the weight-loss leader- your future husband? Hell no... urgh. I loved my old gym, you've scared me into thinking I won't be able to find one as good here :s

  2. I definitely feel the same way at gyms most of the time - that the skinny people around me are using me as motivation to get their own asses in shape. But to hell with them because I certainly am not using their uppity selves as my 'goal'.

    Good for you for keep going back though despite all the reasons not to...

  3. YOU DO.

    You have every right to improve your own health. Screw the skinny bitches. I spent a lot of time worrying about that, too - but it's so not worth it.

  4. The timing of this post is too funny. My gym has the general area, which is cardio. Then there is a massive room for weight training and resistance--fitness freaks, guys with massive biceps, women that look like hard bodied robots. But they also have a smaller room for women only to weight train--normally my area but the equipment is limited. Today I went into the big room because I wanted to try some new resistance--I was by far the largest person in the room. But then I realized if I keep this up, I won't be the largest person and hell I pay my fee every month...but still self-concious around the hottie do free weights...hahahaha

  5. I think I was about 16 when I first went into a gym as well. I went regularly for a month or so, and never went back.

    The next gym I went to was actually pretty great. But again, I just stopped going.

    The last gym I went to was the same as the first, and it sucked even more, so I left pretty quickly.

  6. These stories are the exact reasons I started up my mobile PT business. So many people are intimidated by gyms.

    However, you do deserve to be in the gym.

    When I stopped thinking about everyone else and decided that to be beetroot red, hot, sweaty and totally out of breath was the only way to get what I wanted, I lost 35kg.

  7. I'm really glad you can laugh at it all now!
    You do belong in a Gym, everyone belongs in a gym. As a friend from work said to me the other day "Everyone goes to the Gym to make themselves look better, so being embarrassed is no excuse" (I ignored him, naturally)
    Oh how I love hotel gyms!


  8. This post made me feel very sad...People can be so nasty!!! Big hugs to you!!!

    I know it is easier said than done but stuff what other's may or may not be thinking. Just think of yourself and know that what you are doing is good for YOU!

  9. It doesn't really bother me, other ppl at the gym. I think because I'm so oblivious.

  10. OMG who would do that???????

    Seriously some people need a brain check. I havent had too many bad experiences in a gym, its mostly just my poor self confidence why I wasnt in there. I used to strut around my old gym like I owned the joint, but I was very thin fit and muscly back then, things change though!! Although I dont mind the gym now, my problem is maknig the right amount of time for it!!!

  11. *giggle* You had me laughing then ... I have oh so similar stories!! lol
    I think that most decent people would look at a larger person exercising and say "Good on em!!" anyone who thinks differently are mearly gutter scum!! lol

    You are beautiful anyway ... no need to worry what others think!!


  12. I think the important things to consider are that you feel that everyone is watching you but seriously? They're all too busy doing their own thing that they're not paying attention to anyone else.

    Gyms scared me; sometimes they still do. In the past 18 months I've lost over 100lbs. At the start I was morbidly obese with a bmi of 42, now I'm a healthy weight, bmi of under 25 and if you were to see me in the gym I doubt you'd know the 'old' me - lesson is seriously don't assume they're judging you - they could be YOU just two years down the line :)

  13. Wow. I don't think I would have ever gone back after that first experience. I guess I have been fortunate enough not to have been around people like that. It just makes me so mad and all I can think is that karma has to be biting those girls in the butt by now...
    I don't like gyms b/c I am the "fat girl." as a matter of fact, I have this built in preservation method of only going to the gym when I am almost to my goal. Sigh. I guess I haven't run into those girls b/c I won't take the chance.
    Glad you didn't give up on it.

  14. You had me in tears almost. I work in a gym and at well over 110kgs (I can't believe I just said that)I can assure you even at your largest you weren't as big as many.

    It sounds like bad luck though. I mean the fitball thing was probably because it was old and a bit brittle or it had something puncture it.

    It can be so intimidating at the gym though. Even I feel that way sometimes and I am the one who signed these other people up! Actually I think that's more because they all do know me.

  15. Hey Tully,
    this post reminds me of how emotionally charged the whole gym scene is to everyone in very different ways...I too dreaded the stares and possible comments, now I find myself being arrogan when newbies disrupt my routine, lol. yea there's always some kind of emotion attached to the experience,

  16. Mate you have to stop worrying about what other people think! You go to the bloody gym and enjoy your time there, you have every right to be there, fat arse or not! New fanny: I had a prolasped bowel, bladder and uterus all because the walls of my vag had given up the ghost due to big babies.. and I also had a nip and tuck at the front so YES... I think it will feel like being a virgin again once we try it out! lol

  17. those girls sound like absolute bitches.

    I only started using a gym here in brissie 2 years ago (when i was 18) and it was mainly a male gym, with photos of arnold shwarzenneger and hand made weights. But i felt so much less worried about my weight than i did when i went to a female gym with a friend.

    I have just started losing weight (current loss 10kilos) only have 20 more.. congrats on your weight loss... and i hope you can find a gym that you feel comfortable in...

  18. I have yet to find a gym I 'love'.. even a little. It's very intimidating if you're obese and feel like everyone stares at you all the time.
    Those girls were mean! Kudos to you and everyone who goes to the gym no matter what.

  19. Nicky said everything I wanted to say...almost.

    When I started my fundraising "Beckschallenge" mission in 2004, I bought myself a ring.I wore it on my wedding finger and called it my 'commitment to me" ring. It feltlike my life changed at that point.

    I started saying, over and over in my head, "I do NOT care what others think. They can support me, or they can fuck off. "

    The strangest thing happened. Even though i was 120kg at the time, all the buff, spunky guys would come and say "Congratulations, I think you are doing a great job"...

    I can still feel the determination I had in my heart and my head. I held my head high and looked everyone in the eye (unlike crawling in like a leper into gyms prior to that).

    Not long after I started, one of the men I had a massive crush on sat down with me at the pub for about 3 hours and told me some amazing things. He knew who was there just because they were paying lip service to the diet they 'should' be on. He knew who was there because basically they were addicted and he knew who wasthere because they wanted to change their life. He saw that in me.

    My point to this long winded comment is that I believe we need to breathe deep, hold our head hi and get down to the job at hand. If you are low on the inside, anything people say or do will affect us.

    You are doing this for the right reasons. I hope your gym experiences are fantastic in the future.

  20. Hi there,
    Just found your blog and relate a lot to your experiences as a teenager. I used to weigh around 118 kg and am now around 70 and I live at the gym (yes you can learn to love it!). I still don't know if other people consider me "skinny" but for what it is worth, when I see people at the gym who are overweight I am not looking at them judging them, I am looking at them sending them all the positive, supportive vibes I can. So just imagine the "skinny" people you see there doing that instead of judging you (whether they really are or not, who cares!).

  21. You know Tully, maybe a few stares you get are coz you're a pretty gorgeous girl. Go get want you want / need out of the gym. You've got as much right.

  22. Aww, I can not believe those girls were so mean to you on your first visit to the gym. People are cruel... I really thought stuff like that only happened in movies.

    I love your blog! Congratulations on your progress so far, you look great!!


Awww thanks so much for the comment!