I’ve been a gym goer since my late teens. I went with my mum to a great local gym that wasn’t intimidating but a friendly, vibrant place to fall in love with exercise. And I did. So for me, gyms aren’t a scary place and I don’t give a damn how superior/cliquey/uppity/intimidating the other members and/or trainers are.
To me, the gym is a place to better yourself and the one place in the world where you should be able to go, look (and smell) your worst and walk out feeling like a rock star. Which is why I am so sad that so many people are fearsome of it.
I once spent 6 months encouraging a friend to come to the gym with me. She wanted to lose weight before she went because she was embarrassed of people judging her. I worked so hard to convince her that the gym is the one place where you can’t be judged because even at your worst, at least you are there to better yourself, so how can people judge you for that?
Unfortunately said gym (which I no longer attend) was one of the worst offenders I have ever come across but I hoped since we were only attending classes, she wouldn’t experience it. So finally she came, she loved it and for months we worked out together. She lost weight. She then felt so good she attended classes on her own! Then even better, she went to the cardio section on her own! Hurrah.
And then in order to entice her into training with him a cocky hulk of a trainer made one comment to her about needing to lose weight. She quit the gym and I have never seen her step foot in one ever again. All that hard work was left in tatters because of one comment by a thoughtless fitness professional.
I hear of stories like this all the time and I get so mad. The rest of us work so hard to make people feel great about themselves, to make the fitness industry accessible and welcoming and yet the actions of one individual can do so much damage.
Therefore, we must remember a couple of things. A bad experience/review/story always goes further than a good one. People will tell their friends of a hideous experience in the gym over a good one, of a horrible trainer that did more to damage their self-esteem than uplift it.
In this industry we have people’s self-esteem and self-confidence in our hands, so we must take very good care of it and encourage those around us in the gym to do the same and be respectful to every other person in there, despite their shape or size.