Exercise! - Will I ever quit feeling like a poser?

04-19-2007, 09:21 PM
I've been going to my local YMCA 6 days a week since the end of January. You can see my stats. I've got a long way to go but, I have gone from a seriously sedentary life to a reasonable workout every day. Started out on the treadmill at 2mph for 20 mins. Couldn't do the elliptical but for about 3 mins. Slowly and surely I'm up to 45 mins of 3.5 mph on the treadmill and 30 mins on the elliptical. (not on the same day though!) I do a weight training class 3 times per week.

Here's the thing. I feel like such a poser. Like I'll never be a really be a member of "the club". Does this make sense? For those of you who have met your goals, when did you feel like you "belonged" at the gym? Did it happen when you weren't the largest person there? Maybe I'm crazy, but I don't know how to get out of this mindset.

Thanks so much!

04-19-2007, 10:56 PM

Good for you with the progress you have made!!!!! It was ironic to read your post today since i just felt the same way at my ymca!!!! I use the treadmill and usually do an hour at 3mph. Usually I get one of the treamills by the window, but this time i had to take one by the mirror. I was so uncomfortable!!!! Who knew sweat pants could look so awful???? I know I am a very large woman but boy the view in the mirror in sweatpants just tells the whole bloomin story!!!!!!

I am also very embarassed of how much I sweat even thoug i am only walking!!!!

So I have no answers to your post but boy I can certainly relate!!!!!!!!
keep up the good work!!!!!

04-19-2007, 11:21 PM
Shelly, that's actually something I've been battling with lately. I go into the gym and hop on a treadmill and what I try to do is walk for a minute, run for a minute to a minute and a half, walk for another minute, etc. It's very difficult for me, especially when I finish my 60-90 seconds of running and am forced to slow back down-- and the people next to me keep on runnin' like they stole something!

But the important thing is that we keep going. Even if we don't feel like we belong, we do because everyone there is there to improve themselves. In addition, nobody is looking at other people! They're in their own world, listening to their music, planning out their days, etc.

In any case, I think it's awesome that you've made such progress on those machines and I know that someday you'll make other people come in and go "Wow, I could never be as fit as her!"

04-19-2007, 11:26 PM
I know how you feel. I am by far the largest woman in my exercise classes. There will always be the skinny girls who stand in the front of the class and exercise their heart out. Then, there are the girls like me who stand in the back, just trying to keep up at half or 1/3 the pace.

Don't let it bother you. You paid the same price as everyone else to be where you are. Make the most of it. I just do my own thing and adjust the workout to what I can do. And I am getting stronger every day!!!!

So don't ask "when" you'll belong where you are -- you already do.

04-20-2007, 12:52 AM
Hey Shelly,

Congrats on your weight loss and exercise thus far! You're doing great!

I think you're thinking about this whole gym thing all wrong. I should add a caveat that since I was never obese (just very overweight!), I don't recall ever noticing that I was the biggest person in the gym, although I probably was, occasionally, when I first started working out. I have always felt that I am as as entitled to use the gym and to pursue physical fitness as anyone else--as should you!!!

Caveats aside, I think your mistake is in thinking about the gym as a 'club' where people do or do not 'belong'. That's not what the gym is. (If your gym really is, *objectively*, like this, run, run away and find a new one!) The gym is the place where people go to exercise, regardless of how old or young or overweight or trim they are. It is *not* a special clique where only the young, thin and beautiful belong!!!

Part of your problem, it seems to me, is your assumption that other people are judging you for your exercise routine. I think, for the most part, people are not. I tend to work out somewhere between 11am and 2pm and the folks at the Y during that time of day tend to be older men and women of various shapes and sizes; usually, I'm the youngest and fittest one there. (Although there is a man with one leg who shows up most days to use the recumbent bike--he could give us all a run for our money!) So I do my elliptical and treadmill and work really hard, and sweat and pant like a fiend at a high level of intensity while the other folks walk on the treadmill or climb on the stepping machine or whatever it is that they do. I DO NOT make judgments about the other people at the gym while I'm working out. Obviously an obese woman in her 50s cannot do the same kind of workout that a young, fit woman can do! Obviously! To be perfectly honest, I am always blown away by the sight of overweight, clearly quite sedentary, women tackling the treadmill and working REALLY HARD to do a 20 minute walk. I am in total admiration of their gumption.

So, in conclusion, 1. do not think of the gym as some kind of exclusive club belonging only to the slim and fit, because it really isn't, and 2. don't assume that the people around you are making negative judgments about you and your workout regimen. (And really, anyone who makes negative judgments about a woman working her butt of at the gym is an ***, and we don't need to worry about her opinion.) Finally, 3. you are doing a fantastic job! Compare yourself with yourself, not with other people, and keep on with your program.

04-20-2007, 04:24 AM
Hmmm, I'm not sure how long it took me to feel like I belonged. There are still days when I feel like I'm the only one who doesn't know how to work the equipment. There was that time at the hotel gym when the person next to me had to show me how to turn the darn treadmill on (it was some sort of computerized touch screen--how am I supposed to figure that out at 5 AM). And then the time at the other hotel gym when I could not for the life of me get the treamill on (turned out the safety stop was out). And the other day at my own gym when I was trying to stand on the edge of the treadmill while it was running and practically killed myself. I can't even remember what I was trying to do now, but it clearly was beyond my coordination skills.

I think maybe you just need to give it time. It was probably six months or so before I felt like I could count myself among the regulars and I didn't feel like everyone was looking at me. It didn't really have anything to do with my weight or feeling like I wasn't the fattest one there. For me it is a matter of feeling like I know my way around and like I know how to use the equipment. I tend to be very self-conscious and tentative about trying new things outside of the privacy of my own home, so it took me a long time to work up the courage to try some of the equipment.

It sounds like you are doing great. I've been going to my gym for a year and a half and I still haven't worked up the courage to try any classes. I just can't quite figure out how you know what equipment you need, etc. Seems like everyone who shows up knows this intuitively.

maegdaeien, that interval training that you are doing is actually probably better for you than the constant rate the people next you are doing. They could take a lesson from you.

ibbasquish, I always try to avoid looking in the mirror, especially when I'm using the cardio equipment! And I'm with you on the sweating--I sweat so much, it looks like I've peed my pants (and my hair looks like I just stepped out of the shower).

04-20-2007, 08:21 AM
When I see anyone at the gym, and I mean anyone, I think at least they are trying... You look like a lovely nice lady and I dont give a rat gym behind if you are 250 # or 120 #, you are doing something and I admire that!!! You are doing a great effort, more than a lot of people. so feel proud of yourself!!! You belong to the club of beautiful people that is willling to do it; Not everyones is willing to do it trust me.

04-20-2007, 08:23 AM
Bluetoblue I dont think that with your stats you are the fattest person anywhere (maybe a daycare full of kids LOL)

04-20-2007, 09:15 AM

Yes, it can be very intimidating to go from sedentary to a gym. You wonder whether people are looking at you. You wonder if you're "supposed" to do better than you can do.

I look at it differently, maybe because there were times in my life when I was quite active. You wouldn't know it now, but I used to do martial arts. And I've been to many many different gyms. One thing I know is, everyone is there to work out. Another thing I know is, you have to go at your own pace and not overdo, whatever that pace is. It will get better the more you do it. It's YOUR workout!


04-20-2007, 11:25 AM
We all know deep down that people aren't REALLY paying attention to anyone else when they're working out, and that even if they did look, they'd mostly just admire us for doing something healthy. But that doesn't make it easy to feel comfortable when you're the fattest person there. I know from experience. I don't feel as uncomfortable at my local Y, but I used to go to a big gym in a larger area and it was REALLY uncomfortable. I feel MUCH more like I belong now that I've lost weight, but also I have (finally) reached the point where I really don't care what anyone thinks and I'll do anything I need to in front of anyone. Running helped with that. When I got over the notion that I looked silly running and decided that I just don't CARE, it changed everything. I get on the treadmill, run my 3 miles, and get off. I take classes, and I do well in them. I used to take classes and do awful, and I felt bad, but eventually you get to the point where you're one of the strong ones. That's the whole idea behind going to the gym anyway, I guess!

04-20-2007, 11:30 AM
I still don't feel like a regular at my gym after attending regularly for about two months (though I had attended a weekly class before that, and had sporadically gone for about two years prior). I go to a Y as well, and my thinking has basically been thinking that instead of (like I used to) that the other people working out were thinking "God, what is that fat cow doing here?", I've convinced myself that the other members are thinking "Good for her, working her butt off and trying to get healthy," or something along those lines. I know, logically, that if any of the other members are actually paying attention to me, that may not be the case with everyone. But I've honestly found I don't really care.

Another way to feel like you belong more is to join a class. The first class I joined at my Y was a Yoga/Pilates class at six in the morning once a week, where we considered it a large turnout if six people showed up. That way, there are people I saw every week, and there was someone to say hi to. When I'd do my regular workout, I'd go later in the day, so I usually didn't see anyone from my class, but when I'd go back to my class the next week, I'd be able to tell them how I'd been doing, working out, like I'd hit 7 miles on the elliptical or something.

All the regular gym goers have something in common, in that they are trying to make themselves healthier, and everyone, including the really ripped weight lifters, had to start sometime.

04-20-2007, 11:56 AM
I go to a really small gym in my office building, so it may not be a good comparison, but I have become somewhat social at the gym. I know the names of most of the instructors/trainers and I know a bunch of people by name. I have actually introduced myself to a lot of people. Some people aren't interested at all in chatting, but I have gotten to know a few others and even had some conversations while working out. I like the fact that I can help other larger women there feel more at ease knowing that they aren't alone. I really love my gym!

04-20-2007, 12:01 PM
I go to a Y as well, and my thinking has basically been thinking that instead of (like I used to) that the other people working out were thinking "God, what is that fat cow doing here?", I've convinced myself that the other members are thinking "Good for her, working her butt off and trying to get healthy,"

You are right!!!!! :carrot:
When I see anyone at the gym I say AT LEAST THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING!

04-20-2007, 12:22 PM
Thanks everyone! You have all brought up great points. My Y is great! It is very diverse with all ages (there are some older people who have to be helped to get on a recumbent bike that amaze me!) and I know they aren't judging me. I have years of "stinkin' thinkin'" to retrain! Next time I'm exercising my mind, I'm going to exercise my positive thinking!

Tomorrow I walk my first ever 5K! Yet another step towards my goal of setting my inner jock free! I'm going to hold my head up high and know that I belong there the same as everyone else.

Thanks again.

04-21-2007, 03:58 PM
One thing i tell myself is that we are all there doing the same thing! No one should be embarrassed or feel uncomfortable.
One to feel 'in' is to just say 'hi'- to the staff, to any one in the locker room- that way, you'll feel like you know others there, you may make a friends or two and all the smiles and hellos will make you feel happier which can override negative thoughts :)

04-23-2007, 07:05 AM
Interesting question - I go to a gym that also has a pool. For the first few months I just went to the pool and never ventured upstairs to the gym. I remember well the first time I kitted out in my workout clothes....I sat in the gym bathrooms for 45 minutes before I got up the nerve to walk up those stairs! 45 minutes!

I've not looked back since. I figure that I'm there to work out, not for a date or for making friends. So I go, I sweat, I shower and I leave - and couldn't care less who sees me.

04-27-2007, 01:29 PM
It took me months to feel like I belonged there--I totally had that "Poser" feeling--'gee look at that fat girl try to lift weights like a bodybuilder' or 'gee, could she GO any slower on that treadmill???'. It's horrible!

BUT, the day I realized that I 'fit in' was when I was leaving for the day all sweat-soaked and out of breath and one of the other regulars asked me if I was coming to a Y function (I also go to the Y). It was strange--I saw him come in always when it was time for me to go back to work, and when I started to think about it, I realized that I saw the same group of people (some on different days b/c of classes).

Now when I go in I give the nod to anyone I 'know' and hop on my elliptical. While I am up there, jammin to music, I look around and critique each person i see: Old guy going .8 mph--good for him; woman much younger and wider than me cranking it out on another elliptical--You Go Girl!, stuff like that. It makes me feel good and makes me hope that someone is thinking the same of me.

05-03-2007, 08:28 PM
I exercise at home now but when I was young and pretty fit, I belonged to Bally's and the only time I was ever aghast was when this super skinny...just tiny woman was running like anything, I finished my cardio and weights and cool down, waited for my husband to get done...(about 60-70 minutes) and she was on that treadmill...running...even when we left.

And for the record, when I did belong to the the gym I never felt like a jock.

05-03-2007, 08:44 PM
Oh, gee, I've been going to my current gym regularly for a year now (and very irregularly for three before that), and I still sometimes feel like an imposter. Mostly I just wear an MP3 player and sort of keep an internal focus, but when I try something new (a different machine, or a new class), I get at least minor newbie angst.

What kept me going in the beginning was sheer stubborn bloody-mindedness (I have as much right to be here as anyone, I'd tell myself), and getting a personal trainer for a few sessions. I wish I were better about talking to other people at the gym, but I can't seem to make myself. Still, I'm pretty sure no one else thinks I'm an imposter (or even thinks anything at all about me, unless I'm on the machine they want to use).


05-03-2007, 09:06 PM
I exercise at home now but when I was young and pretty fit, I belonged to Bally's and the only time I was ever aghast was when this super skinny...just tiny woman was running like anything, I finished my cardio and weights and cool down, waited for my husband to get done...(about 60-70 minutes) and she was on that treadmill...running...even when we left.

I hope this comment isn't inappropriate. :dizzy:

I have to say, I *abhor* seeing the eating-disorder types at the gym. I used to see them quite often when I worked out at a university gym. Horribly skinny girls just running and running and running forever. It is all I can do not to leap off my elliptical, run home and start scarfing down salt and vinegar chips to defend myself against a similar fate. Both the idea and the reality of girls starving (and/or running) themselves into non-existence is really, really distressing to me.

05-03-2007, 11:25 PM
I hate seeing eating-disorder types at the gym too, because I end up worrying about them. But that skinny woman on the treadmill could've just been a hardcore runner, and an hour of fast running might not be a big deal to her. She could be training for a marathon. Heck, even I have run for more than an hour a few times (though on a treadmill that's a bit too boring for me). One day when my mileage is built up I'll be doing runs that long on a more regular basis, and I may even be thin from all that running. It won't mean I have an eating disorder, though. I guess we just can't make that kind of judgment without knowing what she's really doing with her workout. At one time, I would've thought running for an hour was just madness, but not anymore.