Is it reality or myth that in a gym, the hardbodies stare and gawk at fat people?

You’d think a gym would be crowded with very overweight people, but just the opposite is true.

Many overweight people believe that they’d be stared at, even snickered at, by the buff bodied patrons at a health club.

It’s true that the overweight jogger is bound to get heckled outdoors by motorists. But I’m talking about GYMS.

A gym, actually, is a sanctuary for overweight people, even the obese. The truly fat man or woman just doesn’t realize what a sanctuary a gym could be.

If you are obese and experience rudeness in public, the gym is one place where this will be nearly nonexistent.

Do not stereotype the “hardbodies” as being the rude type who’d snicker and stare.


I’ve watched TV shows, talk shows and news shows in which overweight people are explaining their fear of being openly stared at or ridiculed at a gym. I’ve also read such points of view by overweight people in magazines.

Now I’m not saying there aren’t isolated cases in which an overweight person was treated poorly by gym personnel, or treated rudely by another patron.

But these are isolated situations. Even a buff person can be treated like crap by a jerk. That’s life: Some people are just plain jerks.

I have witnessed very obese women and men walking towards the locker room in a crowded gym.

Actually, my eyes were more on nearby gym goers to see if, indeed, there was any truth to this idea that very big people at a gym get gawked at.

I have YET to witness just ONE person staring bug-eyed at an obese man or woman. I’m sure it’s happened, but behind the person’s back, I’m sure.

In fact, it’s expected that a nearby person’s eyes will nonchalantly follow a 300 pound person as they head towards the locker room.

If a 250-pounder in shorts is on the treadmill in the row of cardio equipment ahead of you, you’re certainly bound to stare a little.

And guess what: The anorexic-looking women get stared at, too.

In fact, there’s always lots of staring at a gym.

  • The woman whose arms are completely covered in tattoos gets a lot of staring.
  • The 5-2 woman who’s built like a bar bouncer as she trains for her bodybuilding competition also gets her share of gawking, stares and whispers.
  • So does the man who grunts loud enough during weightlifting for the whole gym to hear
  • And so does the woman whose spinal column is jutting out because she weighs 79 pounds.

But I have never, ever, ever caught wind of any ridicule or snickering directed towards fat people. Why would someone ridicule you for working out?

If you’ve been ridiculed at Dairy Queen as you walk out with an ice cream cone, this doesn’t mean you’d be made fun of at the gym.

If you’ve been heckled by a car load of teens at the grocery store parking lot, this doesn’t mean that you’d get taunted at the gym.

The gym is your escape from a mean world.

Everyone at a gym is so caught up with their OWN bodies, they’ll hardly notice yours.

Do not avoid the gym before you go there and see what it’s really like. I swear, people on the cardio equipment are either in a trance, or, their eyes are glued to the TV screens, or, they’re yakking to each other on side-by-side machines or into their cell phones. They won’t even notice you.

As for the weightlifting equipment, again, have a seat on some exercise equipment.

Any hardbodies nearby will be too busy cranking out their routine, or too busy recovering from it, or too busy checking out their own bodies, to take interest in yours.

It’s a myth that hardbodies stare at “fat” people at the gym.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: Shutterstock/Lebedev Roman Olegovich