Thursday, February 24, 2011

Imaginary Audience

From "issue - something proceeding from any source, as a product, effect, result, or consequence"

I have many issues with going to the gym, but a few have really made my training program difficult. One I want to address today is feeling self-conscious in the gym.

A lot of people joke that they won't go to the gym until they've lost some weight, and I can clearly see the point. Even though my fitness class meets at a time of day where it's not that crowded, most of the people in there look like they've stepped off the cover of FITNESS magazine. Maybe they have something to prove. Maybe they used to be overweight and feel like they need to show the world that they look good. Maybe they're narcissistic and believe that everyone in the gym wants to admire their rock hard abs and tight thighs through their painted-on clothes.

Whatever the reason for the showiness, it makes me feel like a lump of lard in my comfy exercise pants and t-shirts. I walk into the gym with my long, black pants and unisex Sci-Five shirt, and the feeling of alienation is compounded. Could I go to the gym in tights and a form-fitting tank top? Probably. Would people talk about me? Possibly. Would I feel incredibly uncomfortable? Definitely.

The trainers are, of course, perfectly fit. They look fantastic, they're enthusiastic, and they can work on any of the equipment blindfolded. What's interesting is that they aren't part of the problem! I suppose I've seen Dodgeball one too many times. I expected my trainer to wear spandex shorts and a tank top. The first day of training she wore tight exercise pants that came to the knee and the loose, unisex t-shirt all the trainers wear. She took our measurements (awkward!) but put me at ease by cracking jokes. When she had to measure my calf, I quipped that I wish I'd known so I could've shaved my legs that morning. She laughed and said that it was winter and that the only reason she shaved her legs was that she knew she wanted to wear shorts that day.

Every day I'm in the gym I think about it a little less, but it still bothers me. Especially when I'm in the free weight area doing shoulder presses and can see my bare upper arm. Hopefully I'll be able to move past this issue, but for now, it keeps me in t-shirts and long pants.

1 comment:

  1. This is so true at my gym also. As a matter of fact I haven't even made it over to the free weights area because that's where "those" people hang out. They don't even appear to be working out. It's more like they are just staring in the (floor-to-ceiling) mirror and admiring themselves while holding weights! What's sad though is that I joined the gym specifically for ST (weights). I have all the cardio equipment at home. And what do I do at the gym? Cardio, because that's where my comfort is. So yeah, I can totally relate to this!