I hate the gym. Not because I’m thicker than a Snicker and would feel self-conscious working out among the sweat-slicked bodies of the get fit crew, but because I actually hate the repetition of gyms. But for many women who are trying to whip their bodies back in shape, the gym is the perfect starting place to build an exercise habit. Only there’s one problem: They are scared of being the “big girl” at the gym!

Let’s face it; going to the gym when you’re a newbie is daunting enough. You may not know how the equipment works, you probably won’t be able to keep up with the pros on the stair climber, and you might not even like it…for months.

But starting a new workout regimen when you’re overweight has its own set of challenges: getting winded quickly, figuring out what you’re going to wear so you don’t look fatter than you are (yes, sometimes this matters), and working out among the ripped bodies of fitness junkies can cause the most confident big gal to question herself, just a little bit.

So what to do if you’re worried about being the “big girl” at the gym?

First of all, stop. With 60-prcent of American either overweight or obese, there’s a good chance that you won’t be the only fluffy person at the gym. So ditch that fear and get moving.

Next, although it may seem shallow, having cute and comfortable workout clothes can boost your confidence. Leave the giant t-shirt and old sweats at home, when you look good, you’ll be more inclined to hit the gym, especially after those endorphins kick in.

Finally, give yourself permission to go slow. If you’ve been out of the gym for a while, then you’ll have to let your body get used to moving again. Don’t overdo it. Don’t try to keep up with the woman on the next treadmill, and don’t get discouraged if you can’t do the things you did last time you worked out. Take it slow.

Returning to the gym can seem daunting, but stick with it, soon you’ll be a pro.

Have you ever been the big girl (or gym) at the gym? How did you feel? 

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  • Cee Jay

    In my experience, being the big girl at the gym is no different than being the big girl at the beach. The bottom line is, no one is looking or paying attention to you. +1 on wearing the cute workout clothes. It really makes a difference, and makes me feel tough and strong even if I am not. Same for wearing fitted workout clothes, baggy is not a good look for us. And finally a good bra!!! You will have to pay more for it but it’s worth it. The regular pullover sports bras don’t usually work for us.

  • Nic

    I think the biggest difference is that people want to get in your business a bit too much. You’ll get way too many ‘you go girls’ and ‘there you go’s’ from people who will always assume that the fat girl is on her first day at the gym ever in her life.
    A skinny girl who runs away wheezing after 10 minutes in class, or who walks like a turtle on the treadmill will not get any patronizing comments about how it gets easier or congratulations for being there.
    So it really comes down to privilege. You will be assumed to be on your first day forever, and they will be assumed to be skinny b/c of good choices even if they cannot be active for more than 5 minutes straight.
    I’ve even been patronized by the chicks starting class for the first time (and who never showed up again), b/c they assumed I was new like them.

    • Greenthinksthings

      I know exactly what you mean. I avoid gyms because I hate that claustrophobic fish in a bowl feel , plus I don’t necessarily care to see myself in giant floor to ceiling mirrors. I walk at a local park instead. No matter how consistent I am there is always some random woman giving me the thumbs up or shouting ‘you go girl’ at me. I mean really?! It’s so condescending.
      I also am a regular in a kickboxing class and women would come in and say things like ‘ good job’ or you ‘keep up so well..’ . I mean I attend the class twice an week so I hope I can keep up. SMH

    • cbenji

      The reason people do this is because most of us were at one time the “big girl in the gym” and we know how discouraging it can be sometimes. just ignore it and do your thing. Once you attain a very high level of fitness then it will be obvious to them that you are not a newb. i’m a thick girl but my level of fitness is way above majority of the people at my gym. i enjoy when new girls make assumptions about me because of my size and then class starts and i leave them gasping for air while i’m barely breaking a sweat. then i’ll be like “don’t kill yourself babe, you can always do a modification”.

  • When I go to the gym, I am primarily focused on myself and my workout. On the off chance that someone is judging you at the gym, that comes from their own self-esteem issues–I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

    Although it’s good to know that people saying “good job” and such to big people is annoying. I have thought about doing that before, but now I am glad I didn’t :p

  • Q.lazen

    I look at it like this…everyone is there for a reason, whether it’s to lose weight, get in shape, tone, build muscle or relieve stress. So instead of worrying about what others are thinking about the ‘big girl’ in the gym focus on what you are trying to accomplish. Because everyone else is doing the exact same thing–trying to change.

  • Nic

    I just have trouble finding a good fitting bra.