Have You Ever Been the Awkward Girl at the Gym?

awkward at the gymToday’s post is a guest post from Whitney Treloar. When I first read this post I found it really resonated with me and I hope you will feel the same.This post is for me and for all of you who ever felt awkward at the gym.

Do you go to a gym or take fitness classes? Maybe you’re really fit and strong and lean from working out on a regular basis. Good for you! That is so important. I’ve always wanted to be a person who values and enjoys fitness and exercise, making time for it, enjoying it, missing it when it doesn’t happen. I love you runners and strength trainers and Iron Man-ers. I do. I admire that it’s a¬†priority and I’m happy that you are likely more healthy and will live a happier, healthier, longer life for your loved-ones.

Ladies, do you drop the kids at school and head straight to your gym or class? Do you have just THE RIGHT clothing and shoes? Do you own your own equipment, gloves, wraps? Is your water bottle the current craze? Do you have a special sweat towel, headband, a t-shirt with your studio’s logo? Do you show up driving your SUV with your kids’ school sticker and meet your classmates there and stretch out together, discussing your families and schedules? That’s great for you. Must be fun. I’m sure that kind of community makes it easier, more tolerable, more fun, less painful.

Let’s talk about the chubby, unhealthy chick who wants to change her ways. She may show up a few minutes early, wearing the wrong clothing and shoes, without her own equipment and gear. She’ll probably stand awkwardly to the side, hoping to catch someone’s eye. She may be just trying it out, seeing what it’s all about, hoping to learn something. She probably is very aware that she doesn’t fit in. It probably took awhile to get to the point where she’d give it a shot. She may have called around, visited other gyms, asked her friends who work out. Obviously, she doesn’t have much experience and needs to learn the ropes. She probably fought off a whole team of demons on her way there. She’s overweight and scared to change, although she’s all too aware of her habits. Her sedentary lifestyle has likely caught up with her in her middle age. She’s made a lot of changes over the years, and it’s really long past time for her to do this. She has tried other times in other places over the years. She’s spent good money on personal trainers, but gyms are extremely intimidating to your average Standard-American-Diet-eating mom and housewife. The average gym makes BIG money on the average chubby housewife, depending on her to sign the contract and NOT come back after the first few weeks. Having paid this “stupid tax” more than a few times, this nice lady is terribly gun-shy.

She would have rather stayed home and done laundry in peace. She maybe has physical issues she hopes to tackle, but going back to bed feels so much better. Morning talk shows are good, non-judgmental friends to have while she toasts a bagel and tackles the bathrooms. She may truly enjoy her down time while her family is out of the house. Maybe she’s an introvert, and that time is her sanity.

I bet she’s sick to death of the constant cycle she’s in of eating wrong and being tired, seeing doctors and taking pills, not getting enough sleep and feeling exhausted, not working enough because she feels so lousy, so not having the money to buy better food and not having the energy to cook from scratch. She knows better, but she’s so tired and family fights her on it, anyway. She’s just not the type to go to the gym, take fitness classes. She knows she’ll face less resistance if she works out at home, so she has the videos, live-streaming, gadgets and the stuff, but it goes unused because she doesn’t have the drive, the accountability, the encouragement.

She needs to step outside her comfort zone and she knows it. But, wow. So TOTALLY uncomfortable. It has taken a LOT of processing and thought and research to get here.

Chances are, it took every ounce of nerve she had to don her dorky workout clothes. Maybe she had to borrow her husband’s nylon shorts. Maybe she had cottage cheese this morning instead of bread so she could finally start that new chapter in her life – the one where she exercises regularly and steps outside her shell to meet new women with healthier lifestyles. Maybe, once she fed her family breakfast, made their lunches, got them out the door safely and on time, she wondered if it would REALLY be okay if she took a little time and money for herself, for the sake of improving her lifestyle, because that would ALSO be a way she could serve her family because it’s taking care of their caretaker and setting a positive example.

Maybe that 8 mile drive took her forever, and every fiber of her wanted to turn the minivan around. The voices told her it was too far, took too long, costs too much, required too much sacrifice. Maybe she remembered all the gyms and classes in the past and all the looks and wry smiles. Maybe her insecurities told her she was crazy because she’d never fit in. And maybe she punched that fear RIGHT IN THE FACE! because she knows that she is worthy of the time, energy, money and commitment. She is every bit as worthy as anyone and it is important. So, she gave herself a pep-talk that whole 14 minute drive, telling herself that her body will thank her, her ailments would eventually subside, her attitude would improve, that her fears were unfounded, she’d feel so much better and be so much more pleasant when she felt better, slept better, looked better. Maybe some day she could buy pretty new smaller clothes. Maybe her husband would flirt with her…..

So, ladies, there she is. Her workout clothes are different and awkward, she doesn’t have a water bottle or the gear, she’s shifting awkwardly and making everyone feel uncomfortable.

What are you gonna do? What are you gonna say? Anything? She has pushed it hard to get here and you do have a bit of responsibility to her.

If, in fact, you ignore her, those voices are gonna have a field day. If they win, she’ll dart. If all those voices are right, then you *are* judging her and laughing at her. If those voices win, then she *is* wasting her time and she should have stayed at home. If you let her get away, she may cry hot, embarrassed fat tears of shame all the way home, feeling very close to her middle school daughter in those moments. It would be so.much.easier to turn and run.

And, just for the record, the drive-through never judges her.


Whitney Treloar lives in Naples, FL with her husband and 2 of her three daughters. She spends her days keeping the family and household running smoothly like a typical housewife and mom. She’s passionate about Jesus, music, health, relationships and leaving a legacy for her children. She’s studying to be a certified health coach, and hopes soon to speak and write about physical and spiritual healing and thriving. This story is just one of the many she plans to incorporate into her coaching business. She also dabbles in her own blog, www.mamatold.us.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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One thought on “Have You Ever Been the Awkward Girl at the Gym?

  1. Great writing by Whitney! Though I am, obviously, a guy, I understand much of what this means.

    I think that those “other women” at the gym who try to achieve perfection (the ones with the right outfit and water bottle and sneakers) are not a clan of the same but a mixed bag. Some of them have always been this way, but a good number of them are coming from different stages of transformation. I know this because I have been on both sides.

    At least some of them *used to* have the wrong shoes and the wrong clothes. They used to be scared, nervous, shy, and naive. They are the ones that understand. They will be sympathetic because they’ve been there too.

    Just yesterday I was driving down a very busy 4 lane road with a sidewalk, and on the sidewalk was a man that must have been over 300 lbs jogging. I saw him slow to a walk, and in my rear-view mirror I caught a glimpse of him jogging again. It almost drove me to tears because I could see the determination and drive. He didn’t care who could see him out there. He was doing this for him.

    Transformation is tough but rewarding work, and it is, for many, a long and tough road. But to those who stay with it, it makes all the difference.
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