I know you’ve seen that mythical fat person going in to the gym for the first day of workout. They’re all duded up with matching workout gear and some hot tracks on their iPod to help keep the fire burning. Yes, they’ve got the eye of the tiger and they are ready to tackle this weight problem once and for all. Whatever it takes … gym membership, personal trainer, and new workout clothes. Money invested = long term commitment.
And then you woke up. Fat people all over the world dream of one day awakening the Richard Simmons within. Strike that. I’ll admit that I’d love to be one of those thin people who casually mention that they’ve been to the gym to workout and they could still feel the burn. I can feel the burn, but it’s the steering wheel burn on my belly gained from driving to the donut palace.
The reality is that every time I’ve ever walked by one of those storefront fitness centers, I see one of two scenes. Scene one: endless rows of
torture exercise machines sitting there gathering dust (kind of like the one at my house). Scene two: rippling muscles sweating and lifting and running, adorning the svelt and almost unrealistically thin bodies in motion on the machines. Never, and I do mean NEVER, have I seen a tubby dude gasping for air on a machine built for someone 100 lbs lighter.
Well, I will admit that maybe you’ve spotted that person, but not often. It seems counter-intuitive, but fat people do not go to gyms. Here’s why:
1. Fat people know that skinny people look down on them and think that they should be skinny too. What obese person wants to be huffing and puffing on a treadmill next to someone who just stepped out of Ripped Muscles magazine?
2. Fat people do not have the endurance of the gym rats. Having to lay down on your back after three minutes on the elliptical is not exactly a self-esteem booster.
3. Fat people have mostly worked hard to dress in such a way as to de-emphasize their fatness. Spandex, stretchy knit, and mid-riff bearing attire just doesn’t do. Although I have seen some large ladies in Wal-Mart wearing leggings as if they were pants. If you had stuck a needle in her hip, there would have been collateral damage. Sorry, that’s off topic.
4. Fat people already feel badly about their dilemma and the unavoidable comparisons just make us want to eat a honey bun or six. As such, the gym scene works against us.
5. There are no ‘fat people only’ gyms. Now that might work. But most gym owners haven’t had to think about fat for the past 20 years. It just doesn’t occur to them. But a ‘fat people only’ gym might be the one I would join. Maybe I’d have to leave after losing weight, but that would be a good thing. I’d even settle for a “Flabby Hour” at the regular gym.
Gyms accentuate everything fat people do not like about themselves. Exercise is necessary for consistent weight loss and for keeping it off. But I know I’m not the only big guy who feels a bit self-conscious trying to get a workout in public. Actually, I have a poor attitude toward exercise and that has it’s consequences.
I’m not writing to discourage anyone of any size from going to the gym. I am writing to be clear about why many of ‘us’ are not going to go to the gym. And I want us to be very clear about the excuses offered in avoidance of exercise…gym or no gym.
No matter what the plan for eating is, it must include moving. Thanks for reading.