Health & Fitness

Published on October 27th, 2015 | by Casey Adams

Too fat for the gym?

“It’s never too late to become what you might have been” – a quote from George Eliot that has a personal relevance to any overweight person who is daunted by entering into a gym for the first time.

There are a lot of strong characters and big egos in your average gym, plus a hell of the lot of tight-fitting clothing and bulging muscles all over the place. And mirrors  – there’s always mirrors.

So it’s no wonder overweight people don’t feel confident about beginning an exercise programme or just working out generally. Is it the attitude of those ‘gym freaks’ that makes these temples of fitness and exercise so uncomfortable for anyone out of shape?

As somone who once tipped the scales at 21 stone, I know how they feel and witnessed first-hand how hard it is to feel welcome in a gym when you stand out for the wrong reasons.

“I’ve always been ashamed of my body and I wanted to change it. But going to the gym just crushed any confidence I had”

Incredulous looks and even taunts came my way, as if I didn’t have to same right to be exercising as them; as if I should lock myself indoors and never show my hideous body in public again. In fact, for me these were the kind of people that kept me going to achieve my fitness goals. But this isn’t the case for everyone.

“I tried going to the gym once and I can only explain it as one of the worst things I have ever done,” recalls a friend, who preferred to remain anonymous.

“I’ve always been ashamed of my body and I wanted to change it. But going to the gym just crushed any confidence I had.

“It wasn’t because I don’t like exercise that I hated it, I actually got told to get off of three pieces of gym equipment and on one of occasions I got told they had more right to be using it because I’m fat.”

It’s not as if the super-fit, body-beautiful types who seem to live in (and for) the gym are typical specimens in today’s sedentary society.

Intimidation

A study conducted by Institute for Health Metric and Evaluation at the University of Washington looked at a data from 1980 and 2013 and found that 67% of men and 57% of women in the UK are overweight or obese according to the study which used a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 25 to define ‘overweight’ and a BMI of 30 or more to define ‘obese’.

But, as I discovered, there are people in these gyms doing the total opposite to the kind of intimidation my friend and I suffered – in fact, they are striving to inspire overweight people to come along and feel comfortable while doing so.

“It would be great to see more gyms offering such a welcoming environment to people of all shapes and sizes”

Absolute Gym in Thurrock, Essex, has recently launched a training camp called Supreme Being Fitness, offering their services to people of any size in a positive, constructive atmosphere.

“The group isn’t just about exercise but to make people feel better about themselves as well as look better,” said Roice Gummer, who helps to run the sessions.

“We can literally help people change there lifes, I’ve helped a lot of people make transformations, and they’re often not even people that are into fitness.

“They might be people who have been inactive, or with a poor diet, or people who aren’t confident enough in themselves to love coming to the gym.”

It would be great to see more gyms offering such a welcoming environment to people of all shapes and sizes; which go out of their way to be encouraging and give people fitness goals which they can achieve.

Is anyone ever ‘too fat’ for the gym? Of course not.  With the right support, they can strive to be improve their lives no matter what small-minded people may think or say.

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