Overweight and scared or anxious of the gym? Don’t be!

I have been going to the gym since early 2011, so we’re closing in on a decade of lifting. During this period I have attended big commercial gyms as well as small, “hardcore” niche gyms. 

One sighting that I notice multiple times a year, is that of overweight, presumably first-time gym-goers, with a scared, anxious look to their face.

Too often, that will be the last time I see them. It saddens me, so my only motivation for writing this post, is to try and provide some encouragement.

Overweight and the fear of going to the gym

Now, even ruling out the countless times I have witnessed this first hand – friends, acquaintances and family alike have often shared this issue with me.

Since I am the “meathead/bodybuilder” of the family and my group of friends, people like to bring up fitness/workout related stuff during conversation.

And while I am happy that people trust me to share their concerns and issues with fitness related goals, such as losing weight, I can’t help but feel saddened when overweight family, friends or even strangers express how intimidating the gym can appear to them.

I love working out. It’s an integral part of my life, and dare I say identity. I wish everyone would enjoy it as much as I do – but obviously the reality is very different.

Why might you be anxious or scared?

Ironically, it is often my fault. Now, I don’t mean literally MY fault. But it’s often the fault of well built, muscular men or women, whose confident aura and intense workouts can easily appear intimidating.

And to add a personal anecdote, I also felt a bit intimidated when I started working out. I was 128 lbs soaking wet on a 5’9 frame, and everybody at the gym seemed more fit, stronger, more successful even.

They where so far into their physical projects – I would never be able to compete with them. Why even try?

I imagined to myself that they looked at me and thought “Damn, that dude is a stick. Someone close the windows before he is grabbed by the next breeze!”

In reality, I think it’s fair to assume that most of them didn’t give me or my skinny physique much thought. Likely, they cared more about the next set of incline curls.

Yes – some people WILL judge you if you’re overweight 

It can’t be denied. The fitness industry is cramped to the brim with shallow, overly confident narcissists. I myself acquired some pretty bad traits following my first real diet, by losing nearly 60 lbs in 7-8 months, which revealed a ripped physique under the fat.

I am luckily past that short moment of pettiness. And I would argue that most seasoned gym-goers won’t judge you for being overweight, especially not in the gym!

Because while I will admit that I can’t help but judge overweight parents sitting at the downtown McDonalds with their kids – I want to stress how important context is for my judgmental thoughts.

At the McDonalds, the person is furthering his or her issues. As well as likely offloading it onto his or her children. Children of overweight parents are much more likely to become overweight themselves.

But if you’re overweight and in the gym? You are literally there to lose weight and improve – it’s completely unwarranted to judge or in any other way appear intimidating or purposely scare. That is lousy, loser belittle-ling behavior.

And just to throw in a rainbow-colored, progressive statement: No, I don’t think we should go around judging people, but as humans, almost all of us do. But it almost always depends on the context.

The fear of today will be the strength and discipline of tomorrow!

Call that message cringe-worthy all you want, but it’s the truth. At the gym, you are actively working towards your goals. Some of us have different goals. I want more veins to appear in my lower abdomen. You want to lose weight.

It doesn’t matter. We’re all in the gym to pursue goals, big or small. And it’s likely that we ALL had different goals when we first started. Nobody walked into the gym with their dream physique.

And just by being at the gym, you are already ahead of all those that aren’t attending. All those that on that very day picked the couch. All those that did not leave their comfort zone.

Trust me: It get’s easier. Before you know it, it will be routine. You will gradually spend less time caring about what people might or might not think. How they might or might not look at you. Because in the end, what does it matter?

What matters is you, and the improvement that you have set out to pursue. When you feel the goal is so far away, furthered by all these lean people in the gym – just remember how far you’ve come, you have actively made;

  • The decision to better yourself.
  • The decision to buy a gym membership despite your concerns.
  • The decision to go to the gym despite your fears.

With ever growing obesity rates, not only in the US, but worldwide, you are ALREADY ahead of the pack as far as willingness to improve goes!

Now do everything you can to stick it out – and I promise that it will be all worth it. It will be a complete lifechanger for you, surpassing any single other improvement you can do for yourself.

And when you reach that weight loss goal of yours. Many other projects will be a walkover for you. You will have built bulletproof discipline in one of the toughest areas you can; physique improvement.

You might even have a good physique to build upon if you follow the advice given in my post Overweight? Lifting weights is crucial to your weight loss journey!

I know I might sound like a broken record, or there may be cringe-worthy “You can achieve anything!” type motivational stuff here – but I don’t care. I have wanted to write this post for a long time.

Now all I hope is that it reaches as many people as possible. Thank you for reading!

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