I invited a friend to the gym once and her answer surprised me: “I’m too uncomfortable to exercise in front of other people at the gym.”
I didn’t understand at the time. What was so embarrassing about hopping on a treadmill and doing your thing?
Fast forward about 15 years. I’m older, have had two babies, and am considerably less fit. Suddenly, I understand her completely.
Up until last December, I hadn’t belonged to a gym or fitness center for a long time for exactly the same reason.
I felt intimidated by all of the hard bodies. I felt like I would be the only overweight person there. I realize how backwards this feeling is, but I still chose to exercise outdoors or in my home.
The YMCA Worked for Me
But then a brand new YMCA opened up in my neighborhood. One visit made me realize I’d finally found the perfect place to exercise.
People of all ages, shapes, and sizes can be found working out there every day. My kids can work out with me (I’ve been encouraging a 1/2 mile run before they escape to the family game room), and I often run into friends and neighbors.
Suddenly, I’m exercising in public again, and I don’t mind a bit.
Find What’s Right for You
In a recent New York Times article, blogger Julia Dalton-Brush talks about how difficult it can be to find a fitness center that’s right for you, especially when you’re overweight.
I have tried to get into fitness again so many times but have given up because I have felt uncomfortable. It might be my own insecurity, but I have walked into gyms where I see people in incredible shape and get intimidated or feel like everyone is staring at me.
For Ms. Dalton-Bush, the right fit was a spin class with understanding instructors. For me, it was a large recreational center with a community feel. Of course, you don’t have to belong to a gym to build an efficient fitness routine, but it’s something that I missed.
There are several things to look for in a new gym. Location, hours of operation, price, services. But it’s also important to learn about a gym’s “personality.” No matter what your size or shape, you’ll never feel comfortable if it’s not a good fit.
As ironic as it sounds, have you ever felt too out of shape to go to the gym?
Tell us about it in comments below.