Friday, January 13, 2012

Angry and Embarrassed

I have a friend who is overweight and is on a mission to get herself into shape.  She's told me in the past how she doesn't like going to the local gyms here because she's not treated very nicely.  She feels this is because she is overweight and people don't take her working out seriously.  Now, I'll be honest... I really thought maybe it was the way she was perceiving it because of how she thinks of herself.  She can be pretty self conscious.  She'd just say, well maybe some of it, but you just don't get it. 

She was right, I didn't get it.  But after the first two weeks of the new year, I do now.  I've seen it for myself.  And let me tell you, I'm appalled.

First, I've had a few friends mention recently how they hate the "Resolutioners" that start coming to the gym at the beginning of every year.  Their perspective is that they are only doing it for a couple of weeks and then they'll quit anyway, so basically they should just not go at all.  For some reason, they feel they have ownership of the gym and anyone new is infringing on their space.  The welcoming wagons definitely aren't circling.      

Second, (and this is a bit lengthy so bare with me) yesterday was a cold, nasty, snow day.  I had a volleyball game and didn't want to waste gas driving all the way home, so I decided to hit up the gym for a bit to kill time before the game.  At the gym I go to they have a small 'theater' room with cardio equipment and then a large room with all sorts of weights and cardio.  The theater room is laid out with 6 ellipticals in the back row, 6 treadmills in the middle and then 6 bikes in the front.  I was trucking along on an elliptical watching Avatar on the big screen.  A young woman that was considerably overweight came in and got on the treadmill directly in front of me.  She was walking at a very slow pace, slower than my average warm-up/cool-down.  Maybe 10 minutes had passed and a guy came in looking for an open machine.  There was a bike open in the front row and an elliptical next to me, all the treadmills were being used though. 

I mentioned how it was such a cold crappy day, well you can imagine that a lot of people decided to skip their daily workout and stay home, so while the theater room was full, the big room was practically empty, there were TONS of open treadmills.  This guy apparently really wanted a treadmill in the theater room because after standing in the doorway a few minutes, he walked over to the girl in front of me and very rudely asked, "Are you done on there yet?"  It's quite dark in there so while I couldn't see her face turn red, I could see the complete look of astonishment and embarrassment on it.  She politely said no and kept on walking.  He stood behind her for a few more seconds and grumbled what sounded like, "Give me a break."  Even though she told him she wasn't done, he kept standing there, basically hovering over her, TRYING to make her feel uncomfortable so she'd get off. 

At this point, I was a little ticked off, who was he to think that he deserved that treadmill more than her?  I bit my tongue and held back what I really wanted to say and instead very nicely said to him, "Maybe you didn't hear her, she said she's not done.  And in fact, she just got on.  There are a lot of open treadmills in the other room if that is what you really want, if you aren't picky then your more than welcome to come join me on the ellipticals as this one is open right here."

For my putting my nose where it doesn't belong, I got a very nasty look from said guy, but he did turn and leave the room.  And the girl?  She gave me a very simple, grateful smile. 

Now, my point to this long, drawn out story.  It's no wonder those "Resolutioners" don't stay for more than a few weeks!  I'm sure it's not the most comfortable situation to go into a gym where you don't know anyone, you don't the atmosphere or how some pieces of equipment even work, but then to have someone basically heckle you?  It's not a welcoming situation.  Who cares what the motivation is behind them going to the gym, whether it's to lose weight or to just get fit, the important thing is that they are doing it.  Instead of sitting at home, watching TV and eating ice cream, they are taking the first steps and putting forth the effort to BETTER their health and their lives.  Why would anyone want to make them feel unwelcome and more uncomfortable than they already do?  It's rude.  And frankly, embarrassing.              



  1. From Xa Lynn's gym rat husband:

    I admire the resolutioneers who stick it out past February. When possible (rarely, and only if they look like they want the advice), I try to steer them toward a regularized workout class -- particularly boxing, kickboxing, or tabata style workouts, since if you haven't already gotten into the workout habit then getting to a regular class really helps you see the results over a definite period of time and gives you a support group. A good conditioning class will also ramp you up slowly from January through March so you can feel the difference but be pushed at the same time. I've lifted for 25+ years, done heavy conditioning and martial arts for longer than that, but it is still true that when I only work out on my own my conditioning suffers versus when I include a scheduled class.

    With what you describe, anyone who would screw with the feeling of accomplishment that comes from ramping up your cardio capacity, increasing your 1-rep max, or pumping the time you can spend wailing on a heavy bag is a self-absorbed loser who doesn't remember where they came from.