Exercise! - Going to the Gym as a Fat Person

View Full Version : Going to the Gym as a Fat Person

07-27-2013, 07:18 AM
To start off, I know that this must have been discussed before somewhere on this forum, but I haven't been able to find where, so please do bear with me. If there is another thread that addresses this, I'd be more than happy if someone could link me to it.

I'm a 23 year old girl, and I've been overweight most of my life. I'm around 207-210 lbs right now, and I'm trying to start my weight loss journey. I'm going to begin going to the gym on Monday and frankly, I'm terrified. I'm pretty fat, and whenever I've walked past the gym, I've only seen thin, toned people working out there. In particular, people my age over here seem to have great bodies, and for them 'overweight' means a couple of pounds here and there. I've never seen a fat person in the gym, and I feel like shriveling up with embarrassment just thinking about it.

I'm determined not to use this as an excuse not to go, though. I just wanted to know what people do to get over this. Any advice or words of wisdom would be appreciated.

07-27-2013, 08:05 AM
It might be helpful to keep in mind that some of those thin, toned people are likely also formerly fat people :)

07-27-2013, 08:15 AM
I've been going to the gym regularly and also feel self conscious being a larger person there surrounded by thin people. And the gym I go to is close to a University so a large number of this gym is University students who are young and have likely never been large.

But there is also other overweight people there and I would bet money some of the thin people there used to be large.

I also remind myself that if they are sitting there judging me for being there then it says much more about them than it does about me. At least I'm there working my *** off and trying to become a healthier person. Who could judge that without being a complete jerk?!

I think the first trip to the gym is the hardest. It can feel so intimidating. But it gets easier each time you go. Soon you will start to see results and it will be so worth it. Good luck!

07-27-2013, 09:07 AM
I first set foot in my gym when I was 16 and a size 18. I was terrified.

I know it's hard, but realize that most people are too into their own workouts to really care what other people are up to. DON'T let the fear of being judged stop you from doing something good for yourself, because you won't regret it in the end.

Not all toned, fit people are judgemental either! They could become your biggest cheerleaders! ;) also, as fadedbluejeans said those toned fit people could be former fat folks.

Look at me, for example! Most people who join my gym assume I was just always thin and fit. They're shocked to learn that I was much bigger at one point. I always tell them to stick with it, because you won't regret it in the end :)

07-27-2013, 10:07 AM
I understand your anxiety 'cause I have been through that too.. I was 262 and terrified. I would wear a really big hoodie over my workout clothes to hide my body even if I was dying under there. Once you shrug off the insecurities and just go in and go regularly.. You'll notice how these skinny toned people are actually quite nice and will be eager to share weight loss or fitness info with you. Trust me no one who goes to a gym is a 100% happy with their bodies.. Even the fittest most toned people lifting weights are insecure. No one is going to judge you. The first time I got on a treadmill I didn't last 5 mins and I was miserable cos the guy next to me was at it non stop. Now 4 months later, I run 20 mins NEXT to the same guy sometimes. I'm sure he must be impressed ;) even if not who cares!! I am proud of myself!

Just go and once the lbs melt away you will be fitter than a newbie who joins the gym. It only gets better each day ;)

07-27-2013, 10:18 AM
Thanks, this really helps :)

07-27-2013, 10:33 AM
Just do it! This isn't said in ignorance -I have been gym-scared and have only just started going. When you go, you'll notice there are people who are bigger, older, less able than you, and in time you'll be running more and pumping more iron than others. Even over 14 days I have seen this and felt fantastic about it!
If people go to the gym to look at others then they are there for the wrong reason. You'd be going for the right reason. Good luck!

07-27-2013, 10:38 AM
It's all been said in the posts above me; I just want to add my encouragement. The way to do it is to just take a deep breath, and do it. Truly, mustering up the confidence to just walk through those doors and figure things out is the hardest part. Best of luck to you; let us know how Monday goes!

07-27-2013, 10:45 AM
First time I set foot in a gym, I weighed 360 lbs. you will see people of all shapes and sizes. In the current gym I go to, there are people from 100 lbs to 500 lbs or so. Some people walking with canes/walkers or in wheel chairs. You will see young and old. Don't fret :)

07-27-2013, 11:20 AM
I want to join the chorus -- just do it.

It's great you're going, and I'd also like to add that it's great that you're going at your age, because it doesn't get any easier on the weight loss front as you age.

I've been there, the fat person going to the gym. I go with my skinny co-worker who doesn't judge, but it still sometimes makes me feel self-conscious.

A couple of the gyms I've belonged to have had women-only areas. Those were sometimes a little more comfortable than the gym at large. Another trick is to use headphones and whatever music device you have to keep yourself focused on yourself.

If you're unsure on what to do, find a trainer that you're comfortable with or take advantage of the gym staff to help you learn how to do things. You want to be careful you don't overdo when you're first starting, as that can also make you associate the gym with a negative experience. Whatever you start doing now might be a challenge, but enjoy the journey. Keep track. You'll be amazed how quickly things become easier for you.

07-27-2013, 01:17 PM
I belong to Planet Fitness whose motto on the front door is: "This is a judgement free zone." I see a lot of overweight/obese people there and nobody gives dirty looks or anything. Maybe look into that gym if you have one near you but don't lose sleep over it. Lots of people there started out overweight and I witnessed them transform into thin people. It's pretty impressive.

07-27-2013, 01:30 PM
You know when i go to the gym and see some one who is drasticly over weight and they are sweating and discusting and working their *** off (literally) i always think that they are just where they need to be. They are making a conscious effort to improve their heath. And, besides, when im at the gym, sweating like a beast, i dont notice ANYONE, none the less want to talk to anyone.im sweating and discusting and out of breath, not an opertune time to strike up a conversation....

07-27-2013, 01:32 PM
I belong to Planet Fitness whose motto on the front door is: "This is a judgement free zone." I see a lot of overweight/obese people there and nobody gives dirty looks or anything. Maybe look into that gym if you have one near you but don't lose sleep over it. Lots of people there started out overweight and I witnessed them transform into thin people. It's pretty impressive.

yay for planet fitness!!! I wish they had stability balls tho...

07-27-2013, 02:29 PM
I think this is a very exciting step for you to be taking!!

When I first started going to the gym I was terrified of the free weight area. I knew I wanted to work more with free weights vs. machines, but I was so unfamiliar with how that whole area worked. Plus, that's usually where you'll find the muscle guys, and not too many women hung out there (in the gym I started in). So I was intimidated by the guys, by the equipment, and I was sure everyone would be staring at me thinking "that girl clearly has no idea what she's doing". It was stressful enough that I dreaded stepping foot in that area.

But, little by little I got over that. It really was all in my head. Yes, I was a bit of a novelty being one of the only girls there, but honestly most of those guys really are VERY into what they themselves are doing. They are watching their biceps as they do that curl, they are trying to psych themselves up to lift a higher weight, heck THEY might be worried the other guys are judging THEM because they don't have as much weight on their bar, etc... Chances are, no one is looking at or thinking about you.

Now a days there are more women in the free weight area of the gym I go to currently. And on days there aren't, I feel like a kick *** girl strolling into that group of men and picking up some iron!

There definitely are the "regulars" at my gym, and you start to get to "know" the people that share your gym schedule. Maybe you don't chat it up, but you do the nod and smile when you see each other. I'd say that if you're anyone (fat, skinny, whatever) and you're at that gym with consistency, you get respect from the group of regulars. Gym folks respect commitment.

The only group of people I've seen gym folks as a whole be judgemental of is New Years resolutioners. Every January most gyms get packed with people who have sworn to themselves they're going to start working out. Suddenly there are lines for equipment, everything's crowded, there's no parking, etc. But most of those people don't stick around, and by the middle of Feb things are back to normal.

Just go and try to stay in your head about what you're doing. Focus on you! Let us know how it goes :)

07-27-2013, 05:08 PM
Maybe some of those really thin, toned people weren't always that way. I myself started out at over 250 lbs when I went to the gym. I'm around 20 lbs away from my goal now..still a gym rat!

Most people are just there to work out, they don't look around for people bigger than them or even pay attention to anyone else. Just bring some music and enjoy one of the best things you can do for yourself!

And have fun!

07-27-2013, 07:00 PM
i don't go to the gym as i workout at home but if i was in the gym and saw an overweight person working out, i would honestly think "good for them, i hope they get to their goal"!

Everyone had to start somewhere. Maybe put some ear buds in and crank up the music and just get into your zone, of course this will only happen once you overcome that initial step of going there and if you need assistance with routines, you will probably gain some friends :)

07-27-2013, 07:26 PM
You go girl!!!!!

07-27-2013, 08:09 PM
I was self-conscious of it too when I was in the 190s and at the gym. I too went to Planet Fitness and the "judgment-free zone" motto always made the experiences less frightening. Also, wearing headphones and listening to upbeat music helped me focus on me, not others around me. I could create my own little world inside a gym (which believe me, was not my world at the time). Totally worth it. Working out at the very least DOES make you happy. Imagine being eventually much STRONGER than the skinny people you see; it's an empowering feeling ultimately.

Good luck <3

07-29-2013, 01:49 PM
The gym is not an exclusive place where only thin people hang out. You have look at those and you may be surprised to find that many of the thin people you're looking at may have been obese at one time.

No one is going to give you grief or look at you funny--in fact they're happy you've joined the fitness group--and will encourage you to continue going. And some will very helpful to you also.

07-29-2013, 02:13 PM
I'm so into my workout at the gym, I almost never notice anyone else. Except if it's a really cute super in-shape guy... I might notice :^:

07-29-2013, 02:28 PM
Gyms vary, so select a gym whose focus is to help people get healthy. You can sort of spot it when you walk in- if people are dressed for comfort, focused on their own workout, and you see a variety of body types, that's probably a good gym.

My high weight was 225 and I always felt comfortable in my gym. There were lots of people there just like me.

07-29-2013, 03:42 PM
My high weight was probably around 257. (I say "probably" because I wouldn't even get on a scale for the longest time.) When I'm at my gym, if I see someone of my height at about that weight or higher who's working out, all I think is that she is a stronger person than I am.

Because when I was at my high weight, I was so afraid of going to a gym that I walked & walked & walked outside in bitter cold weather, when it rained or snowed, & once during a lightning storm that happened when I was a couple miles from home. I made myself uncomfortable for nothing. (I mean, it's not like nobody ran or walked by me or drove past me during that time.) Actually, I got plantar fasciitis because of all that pounding on pavement & concrete, when I could have been using low-impact machines.

All because I was afraid, and scared of getting out of my comfort zone.

After I lost a little weight, I went into the gym & promptly discovered that there were people there who were as heavy as me, and heavier, only they were having fun in Zumba, were good at spinning, and knew their way around the Nautilus machine circuit -- unlike me, who'd been cowering outside.

I just think of me out alone in the rain & cold doggedly walking when I could've been inside in the warmth and making new friends and learning new things.

(I've got nothing against walking, BTW -- great way to experience the outdoors, see the neighborhood, take a break from your own room -- but why did I completely shut myself off from any other option? Fear. Shyness. Don't be like me!)

08-02-2013, 04:14 AM
I have declared myself the unofficial fat person ambassador for the gym. I want to be there when another overweight person comes to check out the gym, so they can see me and realise that it's something they can do too.

But mostly, I don't care anymore. Because if you aren't sweaty and tomato-faced in the gym, you aren't doing it right.

08-03-2013, 07:47 PM
I'm sorry you felt uneasy about going to the gym. I'm 5'6" and I walked into the gym at 324...

There are plenty in there, who were once large and have toned down quite a bit. Walk in and just focus on yourself. Not the other people.