Too Embarrassed to Go to the Gym?

Lori Boxer
Weight★No★More℠ Diet Center


Healthy living comes naturally for some people; for others, not so much. For those who are overweight or obese — large enough that it’s difficult or even painful to do what thinner people can do easily (high intensity interval training, hot yoga, crossfit, jogging, to name a few) — it’s even tougher to get started. Physically. But then, there’s the mental roadblock as well.


Embarrassment related to exercise is something I hear often from clients. Many are nervous about exercising in public. They might have thoughts such as:


  • I don’t know what kind of clothes to wear.
  • I don’t like the way I look. I’m too fat to exercise in public.
  • I’m so awkward. I’m afraid I’ll trip, or not know how to use a machine.
  • What if I break a machine?
  • I don’t know how to deal with the whole locker room scene.
  • What if I have to stand around waiting to use the equipment? I’ll feel so uncomfortable.
  • I don’t want to have to talk to anybody.


Any or all of the above stops them from walking into a gym, even though it’s something they’d really like to do; or, once in the gym, they are anxious and feel so uncomfortable, as if everyone is staring at them.


So, let me tell you the two things I always tell them:


1 – Stop being paranoid.


I know you’ve probably already told yourself this, but it’s really true: most people aren’t watching you or interested in what you’re doing. They’re off in their own little world listening to music or watching TV while they exercise. I can say without hesitation, after speaking with many personal trainers and gym owners over the years, that when most people see a heavier person exercise they are ALL thinking positive thoughts, like “Good for you!” or “I used to be there, too.” Most people won’t notice you at all, and those who do are quietly rooting for you!


And those fabulously fit trainers? They’ve turned their passion into their livelihood. So, never be embarrassed to approach them. They want to help you.


And those guys and gals with the big muscles that might intimidate you? Well, they’re also there because of their passion for fitness and health. Not only do they not care what you look like, but I can almost guarantee that if you had a question or needed some assistance and you didn’t have a personal trainer with you and there wasn’t a fitness center employee handy, those guys and gals would be all too happy to give you direction.


It’s very important to remember that EVERYONE at the gym is there because they are trying to lose weight, build muscle or simply stay healthy. And many of them are just as self-conscious as you. Don’t be so embarrassed by what you see in the mirror that you hold yourself back from changing your reflection


2 – Give yourself a pat on the back.


Developing a new habit is never easy. Walking into a gym or other fitness facility for the first time can be overwhelming for anyone, so give yourself a pat on the back. To take the edge off of some of the “first time jitters,” why not sign up for some private 1-on-1 personal training sessions. I’ve heard time and again from clients how much better they felt knowing there was someone at the gym waiting for them. It kept them laser-focused on that person’s guidance and assistance, with almost no down time to wander or feel alone or out of place. And most gym facilities do offer a couple of free personal training lessons to get you started.


A healthy lifestyle — both dietary and fitness — is a skill you work and get better at; it’s not something you just get up and start doing one day. If you expect to just hop on a stationary bike, start lifting, or turn your diet upside down without challenges or setbacks, you’re kidding yourself and setting yourself up for failure. Starting light — just doing whatever you can, even if it’s not much — is so important to building good fitness habits, getting you moving, and acclimating your body to activity. It’s a start, and getting started is everything.


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