If you’ve been feeling too fat to go to the gym, here are ways you can overcome your jitters and anxiety.

Gym Jitters Affect Both Men and Women of Plus Size

I once read a posting in a fitness forum from a 20-something, tall and overweight man who was finding it very difficult to go to the gym.

He explained that he was physically weak (low bench press and squat numbers) and believed other gym members were smirking and even chuckling at him.

However, someone responded to the OP and said when he noticed a few young men laughing at him (he’s very overweight), he sat down next to them and began curling dumbbells.

That stopped it. Now you may think this takes a lot of guts, but ask yourself what harm could come of doing something like this if you actually do notice gym members gawking at you?

This tactic worked for a very overweight man who shared his experience in a fitness forum. It may work for you too, including women.

A Less Direct and Potentially More Effective Solution

I have another solution that’s less direct but more effective for large people who feel anxiety at the thought of walking onto a crowded — or even sparse — gym floor.

This approach will turn your attention away from self-consciousness and feeling “intimidated.”

First, ask yourself why you feel self-conscious. Some will say, “Because people are staring at me,” or, “I feel that people are smirking/laughing at me.”

However, others will give an answer that points to themselves: “I’m overweight,” or, “I’m so weak with my bench press, but I’m a big guy,” or, “I have rolls in my stomach I can’t hide.”

Perhaps you’ve been spending too much mental energy trying to work up the nerve to wear a swimsuit, especially a two-piece, in public, and this quest has left you DRAINED and feeling defeated.

Why not abandon this quest? First off, the reason it’s so difficult to overcome is because when you’re actually in that swimsuit, you’re not doing anything that creates a true sense of accomplishment. A bikini is just a prop.

Second, working up the nerve to appear on a beach in a swimsuit won’t necessarily abolish gym intimidation.

If you want to experience REAL accomplishment, then enter a gym and pick up a barbell.

It’s Perfectly Okay for Plus Size Women and Men to Be “Covered up” at the Gym

On a beach, the emphasis is on how your body looks. At the gym, the emphasis is on what your body can DO!

Lack of fitness may be playing a part in one’s fear of being seen at a gym.

But the gym is the perfect place to strengthen your body!

You may feel self-conscious on cardio equipment, but why not do some weightlifting?

There’s no huffing and puffing. There’s no plodding along and dripping sweat. There’s no shaking belly rolls to feel self-conscious about.



However, if you need the gym to get more aerobically fit, my suggestion is to simply — yes, simply — choose the cardio equipment you’d feel most at home on, and start going at it.

Or, join a low impact or beginner’s fitness class. There’s always other overweight people in easier classes.

But back to strength training. This is SO ideal for any overweight man or woman who’s reluctant to walk into a gym.

Strengh training — lifting barbells and dumbbells, and moving stacks of weight on sit-down equipment — is a type of workout that you’re on an EVEN PLAYING FIELD with slimmer people!

So if you’re worried someone’s going to chuckle at you, talk about you or stare with disdain, then start loading some barbells or moving some dumbbells.


And don’t let “body positive” Instagram accounts guilt you into trying to work up the nerve to expose a lot of skin just because you’re in a public setting.

If you want to wear baggy long sweat pants and a baggy long tee shirt, then that is your American right.

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.