There are a number of things that have gone through my head while at the gym. Usually these thoughts relate to my boobs making a break for it from my sports bra or whether anyone else will notice I bust my pants whilst squatting -true story. However there's a special set of thoughts reserved for fat girls, like myself, to contemplate whilst at the gym.
It could be just me but I think there's a bit more to figure out, going to the gym as a "big girl"-- there's arguably a bit more to contend with not just physically, but emotionally as well. Of course we all have the same concerns about the sweat stains and trying not to be awkward around the hot trainers, but there are just a couple of extra concerns that most of the time, aren't even about our weight.
1. What the hell am I going to wear?
Ah yes, the joy of looking for cute, plus size workout gear. It exists, you may have to import it and remortgage your dog to get a pair of pants but it's out there! It pains me to say it but in the beginning, just forget about your outfit. As long as you are comfortable and capable of movement, you're already winning. Quite frankly a cute outfit is the last thing you'll be bothered about when you're rocking big red tomato jaws and a sweat moustache, so y'know save your money. The money you do save on outfits, pretty, pretty please invest in a sports bra. Trust me on this!
2. How will I even choose a Gym?
A lot of it is trial and error. Take recommendations from clients old and new, get the full scoop on the place. Take advantage of free trials, open days or classes and see what kinda vibe you get. Don't worry if you don't make a good match first time out. I didn't!
I aired my gym joining anxieties to my 20 something year old "Accountability Coach". His supportive response? "Oh I totally understand your fears, I know exactly what it's like, I was a fat kid too." Sweetheart, I'm sure you mean well, but being a chubby young boy, does not in any way equate to being a size 30 female attempting exercise for the first time since school. Thanks for trying though. I won't even begin to describe the conversation we had about achieving a "bikini body".
3. What if people are looking at me?
This was one of my biggest concerns. All the memories of being bullied in school came flooding back and I was terrified. Y'know what I learned pretty quickly? Nobody is looking at you! Honestly, you're lovely and all but nobody gives a toss. Serious gym goers are far too busy breaking a sweat and surviving their workouts to care who else is in the gym. Posers are too busy staring at their reflections and fellow newbies will be wandering around a lil lost. So don't sweat it.
4. Is it going to hurt?
This might sound like a laughable question and if you laugh you clearly have never experienced the dreaded DOMS. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness- four words that strike fear into the hearts of fitness folk everywhere. My first week of gym going, stairs were a nightmare and every time I sat down to pee, I called out to every Catholic Saint imaginable. Nope, it's not glam, it's not pretty but it only lasts a short while and then it'll go. It's out of kindness that I warn you it's coming. It happened for me because I went from zero to 6 HIIT classes my first week including 2 on my first day.
Why you ask? Because clearly I'm an eejit!
While we're on pain- get yourself decent shoes. If you're going running, jumping and bouncing around like a chubby tigger, you're going to need something to cushion the impact. Again Sports Bra, I digress. Get fitted in a good shoe/ sports/ running store and ask for the experts advice. Don't ask me, if you saw the shoes I wore the first couple of weeks you'd die laughing.
5. Can I still be Body Positive and work on my fitness?
One of the greatest things my new gym has taught me is that I can be proud of my body without any alterations. There was no expectations of weight loss or bikini bodies. I was asked what I wanted to achieve and a plan was created for me around that. My body can manage exercise, something that I never thought possible, that is something to be very proud of. The thing is, I love it. Endorphins are my friends. Not to mention, what it has done for my mental health is extraordinary. If that's not Body Positive I don't know what is.
Bottom line, don't expect instant fitness and don't be afraid to give something a go. Don't let your weight or size hold you back from achieving what you want to. The more you do it, the easier it gets and the more you will enjoy it. If you don't already, you might even start seeing your thighs as things of strength and power not as something to hide in leggings.
Wouldn't that be something to celebrate?