Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gym-timidation- A Tale from Both Sides

Gym-timidation. You know exactly what I'm talking about. You just joined the gym, you've been absent for an extended amount of time, or you're totally unsure of what to do while you're there. You have an idea in your head of how you want your body to look. Maybe you have a goal weight or pant size, but you don't know what to do to get to that goal. While you're battling these feelings of insecurity,  you feel like everyone else there knows what they're doing or they're already at their goal. Which ever the case, you've made a huge step in just getting yourself into the door and on your way to forming new habits.

I can remember when I first joined my gym in the Summer of 2009. I would work out 3 times a week, doing the elliptical 30 -35 minutes at a time, maybe do some bicep curls, a lunge here or there, crunches, stretch and then leave. I clung to the elliptical. My life line. My gym offers group work out classes, but I was to afraid to try them. Everyone was so fit, and I was not. I was out of shape, over weight, and deeply embarrassed about my body. I did not want to embarrass myself in a room full of fit people running circles around me.

I remember one day in particular,  I was clinging to that elliptical, and the gym was near empty except for my best friend and I. We were getting in cardio and having a full on conversation. I was not working hard, although at the time, I truly believed I was. The owner of the gym, came up to us and asked us to join her class. I flat out refused. I was terrified to work out in a group session. I was so scared of embarrassing myself in front of the fit people, I didn't want to even try bettering myself, it seems utterly ridiculous looking back on those feelings now, but that is how I felt.

It took me another year and an a-ha moment later to realize, those 30 minutes on the elliptical were getting me no where. I had gained weight since joining the gym- my diet was terrible. I had zero results, because I wasn't pushing myself. Finally, January 2011, I reached a point where enough was enough. My desire to change out weighed the embarrassment and fear.

I started attending RIPPED religiously on Monday evenings, Zumba on Tuesdays, Butts & Guts on Wednesday, Weight training Thursday mornings, sometimes a Friday morning class, all in addition to my elliptical routine. It would still be another year before I was ready to start running. Through classes, I was learning how to put together work outs on my own. All of this effort would eventually lead me to 12 weeks of personal training and learning to love running. Running murders fat. No doubts about that.

When I was finally able to let go of the fear of embarrassment, the shame of being over weight and out of shape, I started to flourish.  I discovered the super fit people at the gym, didn't give a hoot about me. They were busy focusing on their own body and their individual goals. I was judging them, they weren't judging me. No one was judging me as harshly as I was judging myself. I was the only person holding me back. I was the only person standing in my way.

Standing on the other side of gym-timidation, the tables have been turned. I have been filed under the super fit intimidating category. I see others looking at me work out. I know what they're thinking, I've been there. I know other women notice, because they make comments to me. "You never take a day off do you?!" "Girl I'm tired just watching you!" "How did you learn how to put together that work out?" "I could never do that"

Last week, I randomly decided to jump into a class my old personal trainer was teaching, after completing another class, just for a little extra challenge. I asked the trainer how to make one move in particular more intense, and a lady in the room mumbled something about super athletic types- I didn't hear the full statement, because I was focused on my own work out. The trainer jumped on that statement, "Leigh Ann's lost 60 pounds, she fought to be athletic!". This woman stood in disbelief, then suddenly she wanted to know everything about how I had reached my present fitness level. She had misjudged me. "I thought you were just an athletic person!"

I had automatically been filed under the born thin and fit,her body comes easily to her, she doesn't understand what I'm going through category. I didn't take offense to the situation, because I know what those feelings are like. It feels like you are the only one fighting this battle within yourself. You can't see success stories walking around you because former fatty is not tattooed on the faces of the super fit athletic types.

When I stopped worrying about the super fits, something incredibly magical happened, I became one of them. Gym-timidation exists only in the mind. Set yourself free, it's a great place to be :)

March 2012 (Starting to feel really great) March 2013 - The face says it all :)

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32 comments:

  1. Amazing...I feel that way all the time. Thanks for being here to push all of us a little further!!!

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  2. I LOVE this post! I was the EXACT same way after my daughter was born when I started back at the gym(2005). I remember running into a guy out at an event outside of the gym and he said "you are that chick from the gym. You can stay on that machine FOREVER!" At the time I thought it was a compliment, now I know better.

    I just had two girls in the weight room the other night tell me "I wish I had your arms." We started chatting and I convinced them to come try Spin with me. They both CAME! Now I see one regularly in classes!

    I always give props(even if it is in my head) to anyone willing to even walk through the doors of the gym. That is a feat in itself. No matter the shape or size- the will and effort is there and that is what matters!

    Sorry so long winded!

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  3. I love this post! Classes are definitely what has helped me with my "gym-tidation" (love that term, hehe!). I've also been running around the track. Quick question for you - how do you like that RIPPED class? My gym is going to start offering it on April 1, and I'm going to be trying it for the first time. Not too sure what to expect, but I'm getting excited!

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  4. WHOOOOT WHOOOOT!!!! AWESOME AWESOME post!!!!! I know every single feeling you just talked about!!!! You are amazing!!!!! Happy Thursday
    XOXOXO
    Elisha

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  5. I feel this way right now about running. I feel so intimidated. I really want to sign up for a 5k but am too scared to. Thank you for sharing! I've got to get past this. My running is slow and I'm really scared to even refer to myself as a runner because I still walk some.

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  6. GREAT post today! I love the new term! I didn't know you had a personal trainer at one point! Would you say it was worth the money?

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  7. I love this! I am on the brink of joining a gym and this definitely is one of my fears. I have been running and doing Jillian for a year and think I am ready to advance my workouts. Thanks for both perspectives!

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  8. Sooo true. At one point in time I had been 220lbs then I worked my butt off and got down to 138lbs. I got into heavy weight lifting and running. People would be completely taken back when they would find out that I was once out of shape. People to have preconcieved notions about other's at the gym.
    You've come a long way and you fought your way to better health. That makes your reward of a healthy body/great shape even sweeter!

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  9. Love love love this post. I, like Jen up there, am really looking into joining a gym soon, but I'm so scared I won't know what I'm doing there! I think I'd actually be more apt to join a class, since I'm currently already doing zumba twice a week, and comfortable with it. But I wouldn't know how to use any of the weights or machines, and definitely feel intimidated just thinking about it. It's good to hear though (although hard to except), that I can go in there and do my thing, without fear of judgment from "the athletic ones." This post kinda makes me more excited to get to the gym sooner rather than later!

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  10. You look amazing! I have such a phobia about entering the gym. My husband purchased a joint membership, yet I haven't been once. I feel more comfortable exercising at home.

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  11. Look how far you've come girl! You look ahmazing! Thanks for posting this, I just told a girl who reminded me of my old self in my cycling class "Thanks for coming"...I hope this gives her the motivation to come back and keep at it and that not all of us are born "super athletic types"

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  12. Another great read!! You seriously take the thoughts right out of my head.. crazzyy!! :) I've definitely been there before, and my security blanket was also the eliptical.... that damn elicptical!!! Classes were my push into a whole new perspective on what fitness can be too and I've never looked back! Always finding new ways to challenge myself (have recently started running a lot too) and I love chatting and cheering on new faces as they join new classes too, nothin to be scurrred of! :)

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  13. Great post!!! You look so so good. You taught me that no one else cares what I am doing- and for the most part that is true. However, one day in the gym I was doing some burpees and after a guy came up to me and said "Girl, I never see anyone do burpees on their own!" It was the best compliment I have gotten in a while!!

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  14. This is exactly how I feel (not the super fit part...I'm the fatty right now). I joined a gym in August and haven't stepped foot I it since I joined. I hurt my foot at work not long after I joined which has hindered my progress. So I'm paying $40 a month on a three year contract for nothing. But I'm still terrified to set foot in there. Instead I read your blog and others trying to find the courage to step out of my ideas about myself and get fit. Thank you for sharing.

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  15. Another great post! It's true, no one is judging you the way you judge yourself. And those before and after pics are GREAT!

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  16. Great post. I'm not afraid to try new classes but I'm definitely that girl clinging to the elliptical if all else fails! Trying to get better about it though. Love the before and after pics. :)

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  17. What an awesome post! I am guilty of this. Recently I saw an actress on the cover of Runner's World who I always thought was naturally skinny because she really has that naturally thin look. Come to find out she's a marathon runner. I actually am convinced now that anyone over 25 who is pretty thin isn't naturally thin---it usually comes from hard work at the gym and a careful diet! It will eventually catch up with you!!

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  18. You probably have answered this question before, so I very much apologize if you have but, what running app do you use? I need to find a decent one that an iphone challenged person (me) can use. My husband is techy but I'm too impatient to listen to his schpeels. HELP!

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  19. That's awesome! I've been needing inspiration lately and you just gave it to me.

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  20. I love the before and after pictures...so motivational.

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  21. I love this post :) Thanks!! No one knows what your story is, it would be such a better place if people stopped judging!!

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  22. First I want to applaud that trainer for having guts to set the lady straight!! It's easy to judge others right off the bat. Anyways so glad that you overcame your gym-intimidation. It's hard. When I taught I would always find those that were new to class and applaud there bravery. When I was in class and saw others struggle I would help out. Its hard to start something new and I'm glad you ventured out if your safety zone!

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  23. I am totally where you were pre-class. My diet is pretty good though but man to I CLING to that elliptical...haha

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  24. This is post is exactly where I am at! I needed this to remind me why
    I am going to the gym. Thank you!

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  25. I love love love this. I am somewhere in between. I love weight lifting and I do a training circuit that I was given when I once worked with a trainer. But I am so scared to go and do my dumbbell chest press and overhead shoulder press or my biceps curl anywhere near the real weight lifting area because I'm scared. It's usually men. I am very overweigh. And completely self conscious. I do the exercises elsewhere or use a machine, but I am completely intimidated and I hate it.

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  26. I love this post! I have found for me personally that the hardest area to of Gym-timidation always seems to be in the weights section for me. Previously I had used the weights section to help loose weight but it can be hard sometimes when it is filled up with big men and you have to scoot past them and grab a weight that they have just chucked on the floor!
    Love Gi
    xx

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  27. Love this post! This will help keep me pushing myself at the gym when I feel like cutting my workouts short just because there are "super fits" around me! Thanks!

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  28. I am currently struggling with this! I have finally started going into the weight room because of a post by Skinny Meg but I am still intimidated and if there are too many "meatheads" in the free weight room so I will stick to the machine room even though there's stuff I want to do in the other room. It will take time I think to get to feeling really comfortable and like you said, feel like I know what I'm doing enough to feel confident while I'm in there.

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  29. You are so, so, so inspiring!!! I've been sticking only to my spin class for months now and finally branched out to a muscle conditioning class and BOOT CAMP! It's scary and I get so nervous when I enter the classes - always afraid I'm going to look stupid or take longer than everyone else. I can't wait to feel confident enough to not care how I look to others at the gym...one day! :)

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  30. Gymtimidation...this was a great post for me RTFN! I like working out outside or in my friends apartment gym because it's so personal...but I know while it's something it's the best I could be doing! So need to step out of my comfort zone because that's holding me back!

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