What Skinny People REALLY Think About Fat People At The Gym.

skinnyban20f-2-webThis morning, I noticed a woman signing up for a gym membership at the front desk.

While she was very overweight, the first thing I noticed was her body language. She seemed nervous and uncomfortable – as though she felt out of place.

After putting my clothes away in the locker, I saw her again in the cardio room. I introduced myself and gave her a friendly, reassuring smile. After a minute or two of chatting, she told me that this was her first time in a gym – and that she was literally terrified. She said, “Women like me don’t belong in places like this. I feel like everyone is looking at me and judging me.”

The truth is, she does belong in a gym. We all do. Taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle is important for each and every one of us.

As for people judging her, I suspect it’s the contrary. Most gym goers would be quick to recognize her bravery. And they’re probably impressed by her willingness to make a positive change in her life. Rather than a “look at her” mindset, I bet most people would think “good for her” – if they’re going to think anything at all. In reality, most people are too engrossed in their own workout and their own iPod playlist to really give any of it much thought.

I’m sharing this because I get countless emails from unfit, overweight or obese individuals who are too scared or too intimidated to go to the gym. My point is: Don’t be. Don’t be paralyzed by your fear – which, ultimately, is just another excuse preventing you from creating what you really want.

I think you’ll quickly discover that it’s much scarier in your mind than it is in reality.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 100 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.

Comments

  1. Hi Davey.

    Thanks so much for posting this today. I really needed to read it. I started working on getting healthy one week ago today. My goal is to lose 100 pounds in a year, because I need to! I don’t have room in my apartment for exercise equipment and I know that I’m going to get bored just walking up and down my street. I started thinking about getting a gym membership — there are two gyms just down the street from me. But, like the woman you saw this morning, the thought is extremely frightening to me. I’m ashamed of how overweight I let myself get and I assume everyone who sees me is as disgusted as I am.

    As an overweight man I deal with a great deal of emotional baggage (of my own making). As an overweight GAY man, that baggage is tripled. You, sir, are an inspiration and an example of what, I think, we all should aspire to be.

    Thanks for posting this perspective!

    • I was in the exact same position as you, twice even! (I lost weight but got it back nearly doubled). My experience taught me that even though your fear and reluctancy may seem logical, they’re both completely unjust. Once you get used to the place and the people, you’ll notice that there was nothing to fear.

      Never let your own mind hold you back.

      Good luck!

    • I totally agree Jason. I am a fat gay man as well…nothing goes good when you are fat, and things go even completely worse when you are gay.

      I do have to say that I have had lots of encouragement when go to the gym, some will come up to me and tell me they are proud. It makes me want to cry. Other times I get really bad looks and they remind me that I am a fatty by telling me about it.

      We can do this!

      • Absolutely we can!! I’m thinking more and more about getting a membership soon. I’m glad your experience has been mostly good. I hope mine is the same.

    • Jason,

      As a gay man as well, I’ve been consumed by my weight and looks for most of my life. Although my weight fluctuates with the season, I’m usually fit. I go to the gym about 4 days a week. I see all shapes and sizes. When I see a hefty guy or woman, my thought is Good For Them!

      I support your choice to get healthy. That’s my view on working out. Do it for you. Do it for your health, your partner, your children. (Future partner and kids in my case)

      Don’t worry about what others are thinking. Most gym goers are supportive, kind, and positive people. I would suggest spending a little extra money in the beginning to work with a trainer to ensure you are working out safely and don’t injure yourself. I would suggest 4-8 sessions at least. Create short term and long term goals with the trainer and check in every month for a year.

      Last suggestion: get a gym buddy! Make them accountable and yourself accountable. You’re much more likely to go when someone else is depending on your support. If you’re in the Seattle area, I would be honored to help you out.

      Take care! Good luck!

      • Thanks so much, Scott. If I were in Seattle I’d probably take you up on the offer. It is always easier to do things like this if you have someone to keep you accountable. I really appreciate your encouragement. It’s good to know there are people out there who understand.

    • I have been working out for years. I visit a gym five days a week. I can assure you that there are all types of people going to the gym. I’ve seen incredibly skinny people, average beer-bellied guys, a wheelchair-bound man, a blind trainer, many overweight people, extremely tan folks, heavily tattooed people, people with crazy hair-cuts (myself), and muscular men and women… just to name a few. Everyone that I have seen during my years of exercise has been extremely friendly when not concentrating on their own workout. People may notice your weight but they won’t think anything of it. Instead of being disgusted they are inspired to see someone taking control of their health. It’s once you’ve started making noticeable changes in your body-shape that people will start paying attention and start passing on kind words. Believe me, I have seen/heard it, and it’s amazing. Also, if you are still nervous and don’t know where to start, try setting up an appointment with a trainer. They will help you out and will love doing it regardless of how you look. After all, they decided to become a trainer to help people. But remember, everyone’s there for the same reason: to take control of their health. Your sexuality shouldn’t be a concern at all. Most people won’t even know (unless you decide to make it known). Keep your head up and stand strong.

    • Jason ! You are amazing. You going to the gym is the first step and the hardest one. I as well was and still am an overweight gay man. I have lost 45 pounds as of today. I feel amazing and now love going to the gym. Keep up the great work and just know that everyone in the gym isn’t looking at you in disgust they are looking at you as inspiration !!!

    • I am right there with you. I am an overeater and know why I am fat. I feel like I am less worthy than the thin people that I see. I have a gym membership but always find an excuse not to go. My issue with the gym is not what other people are thinking about me waddling along on an elliptical, its more like how boring it is to workout. Its the same thing every day. Get on this machine, get on that machine.

      Keep it up and you will get there. You have inspired me to stop being a little bitch about it and get back in there. We can do it!

  2. Fitness like health is a continuim. Were all at a different place in that oath. Ideally going to the gym is about that. When I see someone less fit at the gym, I assume we have similar goals, fitness and health, we just entered the path at a different point.

  3. For some of us joining a gym doesn’t boil down to being self conscious or worrying about people judging, it comes down to our pocket books. Could you recommend some at home exercises to burn fat and build muscle for an overweight guy in his mid 20′s who doesn’t have an at home gym or the budget to join a gym?

    • Are you in Los Angeles or the Bay Area? UFC Gym is a new chain that’s starting up and they’ve got great deals if you’re near one of their new gyms opening up. You’re probably not going to get the $9 a month for a premium membership that I got but it’d be worth it to do your due diligence before letting yourself say it’s too expensive. It comes back to what Davey is saying not to be paralyzed by projecting. Focus on what you’re willing to do. How much do you spend on other things and do they have the same value? Often times, we short change our health because we think of it as a passive thing when in reality it’s an active thing (that costs money). We are what we eat and exercise.

      • Or maybe he legitimately can’t afford the gym membership. Don’t forget those “waived” initiation fees are usually tacked on somewhere else. Not every gay has disposable income to spend on gyms — heck, some of us don’t even go to gay bars due to the expense.

    • There are plenty of at home excercise dvds you can buy, which yes costs money but its a one time fee then it’s always there for you to use. There are cheaper ones as single DVDs which are usually relatively cheap in places like walmart, hmv, or other electronic places. Or there are tons of programs a bit more pricey but very worth it at teambeachbody.com . They worked for me and now I don’t even go to the gym because anything I would do there I can easily do at home with minimal space. Hope this helps a little!

    • Valentino M. says:

      P90x works like a charm. If that’s too costly, Les Mills Combat works, too.

    • What helped me get into workout was sparkedpeople.com. It’s completely free and does not only have fitness videos to follow along for all purposes, but also inspiration, infos about nutrition and a great tracker system for progress and a daily fitness tracker and food tracker.
      you can do anything there from only looking for some home excercise to joining a challenge together with others and integrating yourself into the community.

    • **always seek medical advice before starting any exercise routine. ** walk/skate at a brisk pace, unless weather is a problem, everywhere you go.. walk to everything that is within 1-2 miles of your home/job. walk up and down the stairs of a campus or public building.. hospitals work well for this.. the stairwells are nearly deserted.. cook your own meals.. walk to a quiet spot to eat lunch during your work day.. stop drinking alcohol.. its liquid bread.. if you smoke, stop! if youre in college, take the weight training class.. at home, put your ear buds in and do jumping jacks, push ups, dips, abs, squats, lunges, calves in your home with your own body weight. food cans and full gallon bottles of milk are weights.. the step on the back porch is great for calves.. do yard work.. the hard way.. rake leaves, push mower.. shovel snow.. drink moar water.. cheers..

  4. Thanks for this post. I know the first time I stepped into a gym, I felt like I needed to get in shape before I started to go to the gym because of the judging I thought I would experience. It is interesting how our own negative self-perceptions can be projected onto others sometimes.

  5. Hi, do yo mind sharing w us, your workout playlist?
    I can find any pump up music for my session.
    Glad if you can help

    • Try Steady130.com. They have lots of mixes at various tempos that are great for workouts. Plus, they’re the original artists, not knock-off covers!

  6. Davey,

    This was a great blog post. Thanks so much for sharing it. What you say is so true. And as a former “overskinny” person I think it is important to further share; skinny, not in shape people can and do feel just as out of place in a gym. And I can speak from personal experience. Thanks again Davey!

  7. When I see a ‘fat’ person at the gym, I don’t approach them directly but deep down I am happy to see them and i’m actually secretly cheering for them :)

  8. Peter White says:

    Hey,

    Just want to say thanks for this Davey. Totally agree with this, I recently joined the gym and I felt exactly like the woman you mentioned, while I was not overweight but unfit and I felt totally out of place. But after I joined, it was totally happy and the scariness of the gym was just in my head. You just have to remember, you are here for yourself, no one else.

    Px

  9. When I was younger I did a lot of judging when an overweight person came into the gym. Nowadays, while I might do an occasional double-take, my inner voice tells me “Good for them!”. They’re taking the first step to an amazing journey that not only benefits them, but everyone that knows them. They are extremely brave for taking that first step, and they should be proud.

    My only request (if I could make one to them) is this: PLEASE… For your first couple of visits get a certified personal trainer to show you proper form and technique. Humans do not instinctively know how to use gym equipment. You need to learn from someone that knows in order to produce results and avoid injury.

    There’s nothing worse than someone starting their journey, only to have an injury get in their way.

  10. Eve Serene says:

    You are right on a very small scale. I taught fitness in the gym, and would listen unbelievably to many many many people poking fun at not only the fat people, but the “new year resolutioners” constantly. People are meaner than you might think.

    Those of us in the industry cheer them on. Those who were once in the same position cheer them on. However, the ego-centered butt holes (which are far more numerous) do exactly what fat people think.

    The real goal is to get fat people to stop caring about those butt holes…because they are butt holes!

    • Eve, you are dead on. I was an aerobics instructor in my early 30s, and now at 52 I’m considering getting my personal trainer certification and teaching aerobics again. There’s a saying: “The strong life people up, not put them down”. More of us who workout need to take that approach with those who are joining us on that journey. We would all benefit from it!

  11. Please join my page on facebook under ” Josh’s Weight Loss”

    Weight loss is a decision. At size 54 I realized that l wanted to enjoy life from the front row, not the sidelines.
    My approach was to make a lifestyle change through healthy and tasty food choices, methodical exercise and
    surrounding myself with those who would support the new “me”. After 18 months I have lost over 150 pounds.
    My exercise regime has gone from a walk in the mall to daily exercise with supervised training. I have omited things
    and people that will keep me from my goal. It has not always been easy but the sacrafice has always been worth
    it because I learned along the way that I am worth it…and so are you. So join me and together we can make a
    difference in our lives!

  12. Yep, this could be me. I remember, even before entering my gym, I emailed the fitness director and expressed my nervousness and ambivalence about even coming for a tour, because I was so afraid of what people would think about me. The first day I walked into a gym, I weighed well over 350 pounds. Now at 265, (and still losing), I go to the gym 3 days a week, and work out with my personal trainer. I’ve learned that the gym is just as much my gym, as it is anyone else’s gym. Old or young, fit or fat, we ALL belong there. I’ve gotten looks before – like I don’t belong there. But I don’t give a shit. I’m there for me. Stare all you want. I’m fat, I sweat, and I work my ass off. I’m finally comfortable and to the point where I no longer notice anyone around me. I’m too focused on my own progress.

    • Great job Kelly!!! Congratulations on your success! Keep the results going! Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. When all is said and done the only person you need to be concerned with is YOU.

  13. Great post. I have been working out since I was 20. I’m quite a bit older now and I keep at it because I love being in good shape – I feel good! I’m thrilled when I see people come in to the health club who are overweight or underweight. To me it means the person is taking control of his or her life and while we might not be in the same shape – we have very similar goals. I find these individuals inspiring and they help keep my motivation up.

    As for those who judge – hey – those people are everywhere….you can count on them judging you. The question is really how you deal with that judgement. Shallow judgement isn’t worth the breath you took to notice it. Keep on working out and enjoy your life in spite of anyone who might judge you….and welcome to the health club!!!

  14. Peter from Canberra says:

    I agree too
    It’s so brave for people to put themselves out there despite the judgement and glare from other people.
    Just remember that most people are so focused on themselves that they don’t notice you anyways.
    And every not of fitness counts. Even if your weight doesn’t go down the fitness helps prevent heart disease, depression diabetes etc etc

    Hopefully the rush from the exercise will keep you coming back for more and more workouts :) ))

  15. There are lots of overweight people at the gym. It’s not like on tv where everyone is all super fit. I’ve been working out for years and some of the fat and/or old people can still whoop my butt at weights or cardio.

    Two of my fave motivational quotes…

    If you still look cute at the end of your workout, you didn’t train hard enough.

    I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.

  16. I use to do muay thai boxing at a gym. Buff guys were a dime a dozen, but we had an over weight guy in our class and he worked 10X harder then the rest of us!
    When I see an over weight individual working out at a gym I have nothing but solid admiration for them. Just don’t pick up them potato chips at the gas station on the way home – keep strong! (that goes for everyone, potato chips are gross)

  17. Totally agree with this article. I used to be one of those overweight people, and it’s a fair bet that a lot of others in the gym who look great now might not have looked quite so perfect not that long ago. When I see someone in the gym who’s carrying a few extra pounds (if I even do notice them), the only judgment I’m making is that it’s pretty awesome that they’re doing this for themselves.

  18. I’m the exact opposite >.< I'm 5'7" 115, and I feel like I'm gonna get judged for the opposite, like "Look how skinny he is, little twiggy twink!" (Though most guys at the gym probably won't call me a twink lol) I'm way too terrified to go to the gym, cause I kinda feel like she did… I think I'm just gonna have to go and get over it though.

    • Joey. Look your fear in the face, punch it with your fist and GO to the gym! Don’t let your fear get the better of you. Forget what other people think. If you can afford a few sessions with a trainer, do it. Tell them you want to gain some bulk and start training. You can also take some (legal) supplements as well. Remember, you get out of it what you put into it.

  19. This may be what YOU really think about fat people at the gym, but your kind behavior is not the norm. Fat people often experience terrible treatment at gyms: they are called names, harassed, laughed at, etc, by both staff and other gym attendees. You would be horrified by the stories I have heard from other fat people, especially the larger ones, and especially women.

    • Pris, there is no doubt these horror stories exist. But it takes two to create the scenario. One to be narrow-minded enough to start something, and the other to actually allow it to affect them. To be completely honest, both are in the wrong.

      It has taken me many years not to let what others say affect me. It’s about loving and respecting yourself. It’s about building up an armor that shields you from the hurtful things others say and do. It’s an evolutionary process.

      Let people say what they will. It doesn’t matter. Buy a pair of earbuds and an iPod, and strap those puppies on. Do your workout, then get the hell out.

  20. Thanks so much for your words of encouragement. I love working out. It would be great if I could get to the gym, it’s so much easier when you have the right equipment than making do with what is at home. Except that when it comes to going to a gym, I am just too terrified of getting there. For me, it’s just the unknown and if I could just get there that I think I would be fine. I have a huge social anxiety issue there. Wish I had you around, I’d definitely go. Not many around to be gym buddies with. Thanks again for your words, and I will try to remember them and get myself there somehow.

  21. I am trans. Female to male. I was at one time 300 lbs. i had gastric bypass and ive managed to get to a “scrawny” 145 lbs. i am still terried of going to a gym because i still feel like im 300 lbs and its been 2 years (plus the whole locker room issue but thats a whole other can of worms). But thank you for this post, even though not everyone will be as understanding as davey, its nice to know that some people will be.

    • I am FTM Trans too. I haven’t even tried to get gastric bypass, so many things I have tried and just fail at them all and end up gaining weight. Good for you on getting that weight off.

  22. Phillip Baird says:

    I was the opposite of most people; all my life I have had trouble gaining weight and muscle. When I went to university I was 6’4″ at 165 pounds and have only gained ten pounds every ten years; at 59 I am stabilized at 200# and have been hitting the gym 5xweek for almost 20 years. I was always self conscious of my slight build and tried to bulk up with home equipment for many years, to no avail. Only after meeting my current partner who was already working out did I gain confidence to go to the gym. I would give anything if I had been given that confidence when I was a teenager. I applaud anyone, slender through obese, when they enter the gym knowing they are on the right path.

  23. I too was very overweight and felt gyms were for those in shape or close to in shape people. For those who ran on treadmills. Then I needed a knee replaced. Doc said I needed Physical Therapy to whip the knee in shape. I live in a small town and chose the Therapist closest to home. A nice young man that was warm and friendly, a doctor of Physical Therapy. He set to work getting my knee as good as new. In the process we discussed nutrition and cardio health. Within six months he had my knee working fantastic and I had dropped from 335 to 285. I was feeling great. He and his girlfriend are now friends of mine (I’m old enough to be his father). When therapy is finished he has a fitness program for those who wish to continue using the gym equipment when the intense PT is over. I continue to feel better about myself and I continue to lose weight, slowly, but it is going down. I am not self conscious about being the large person in the gym. I have also befriended a gentleman there who I had the honor of attending his 90th birthday last year. His workout routine runs rings around mine. Maybe by the time I’m 90 I’ll be up to his workout routine. I didn’t like the fact my knee went bad from an old Navy injury, but having it replaced improved my knee and my physical well being when I found people cared about seeing me improve in losing weight and gaining strength. One day I may even get to the 50 crunches Davey does. I’m now up to 20 and improving all the time.

  24. You’re 100% right, Davey. I’ve been a gym regular for at least 15 years and have always been fortunate to have never in my life been even remotely overweight – and every time I see someone obese, frail or otherwise “out of place” at the gym, I give them a smile and think “good for you.” They’re already doing better than 90% of Americans.

  25. Great article! Love the spirit of it all. Yeah gym-ing can be great. Definitely would encourage it big times for many reasons :) As for myself I gave it all up some time ago. Don’t miss it either. I spend now more time thinking about healthy food and cooking. I also have now a more relaxing life here in Barcelona compared to London before. I haven’t put on any weight at all and my energy level is the same. Maybe it’s because I am very active otherwise? Lots of walking and cycling etc? But yes anyone going to the gym for the first time because of being overweight or feeling inferior in any way, don’t be! You will find that everyone is imperfect! I used to look at people and think ‘well I am not that bad after all am I’? And then I stopped thinking!

    Happy Gym-Ing!

  26. Jonathan Barrett says:

    My biggest issue isn’t with going to the gym but it’s the weights section. I when I was 60lbs heavier and started going to the gym I didn’t mind cardio, but still feel that if you aren’t already muscled you can’t go near the weights without being judged.

    Good luck to anyone about to start their journey ;)

    • Jonathan, grab a muscular workout partner or better yet… A personal trainer. When you have one of them in tow none of the muscle guys pay attention. Plus. most of them are too busy flexing and posing to care anyway…

  27. christopher says:

    overweight people in the gym are doing something about their lives-thats how i see it.what i have a problem with are the overweight fat obese people on the street.

  28. Thank for posting such a great push for me. I have had the same fear of making a move because I have wanted to change my outlook and be able to overcome my own insecurities. I started out with taebo and then to the gym by myself as I get drowned in my own playlist on my ipod to burn some calories away. However, my fear faded away as I had a relative whom is a great motivation to push beyond what ‘you can do today’ at the gym then set another goal. Then slowly I started seeing all my co-workers slowly making their ways to the gym and we get to share a laugh while all working to the same goal of losing weight. To make it more worth it, is hearing them say that they have to see where I am during lunch hours and why I am slowly making progress which pulled them to make a step. Thanks again Davey…

  29. At some point everyone judges or has thoughts about someone they see. Whether you’re overweight, skinny, bald, small boobs, walk in a weird way, etc. It shows a person’s true character if they cannot keep their judgements to themselves. In that case, why care what others think or say? I know it’s easier said than done because their comments can be very hurtful, but know their behaviors stem from an insecurity within themselves.
    I read all the the comments and I thought of a recommendation for those who have social anxiety or don’t want to face a large crowd of people. Maybe try going to the gym at non-busy hours. I used to go to the gym at 5am and although it was tough getting up that early, there were less than 10 people there. Also, there have been times I’ve worked out at 9 or 10pm.
    Whenever I see a person with a little extra running/walking/biking I always say (out loud) to myself, “Good for you.” I think there are more positive thinkers out there than people think.
    I don’t know any of you, but I challenge you to do something to help change this. Whether you’re losing weight, gaining weight, staying the same weight, whatever, make an effort to show someone who might be struggling, or looks like they need a pick-me-up a little positive energy and give them some sort of encouragement. A smile or hello can make all the difference in the world.
    Cheers to you all!!

  30. I like the writing style. It is just perfect. The blog post is very connective and attractive. All the information I found in post is very useful. Thanks a lot.

  31. Yeh quite nice post. I like it. But do you think that weight loss supplements are better than workouts or training? Any suggestions

    • No absolutelye not! Once you stop taking supplements you run the risk of gaining the weight right back. It needs to be a lifestyle change, that is honestly why weight watchers actually works, because it teaches people to eat responsibly and change their bad habits.

  32. Can you please tell me how to reduce the belly fat in a faster way. Is walking or jogging reduce the belly fat or cycling…

  33. I think its really hard to reduce the belly fat in few days time… This blog on fitness is really awesome and very interesting content. Thanks for the blog..

  34. This is really something contradictory statement. But my opinion is that Skinny people think that fat people eat more and exercise less.

  35. Skinny people thinks that fat people are lazy and dnt work out.

  36. As long as you are being active and doing something at the gym, no one will care. If you are the overweight individual who sits on the leg abduction machine and plays on your phone while pretending to do something, people will notice you immediately!

  37. I was/am a very thin person, and those feeling came across when I went to the gym for the first time, don´t be afraid, we all have issues of our own.

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  1. [...] I recently committed myself to getting healthy and fit this year, and recently joined an awesome gym. I love this gym, and could not be happier. (Thank you, by the way, for the wonderfully encouraging article you wrote “What Skinny People REALLY Think About Fat People At The Gym“.) [...]

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