Being Fat and Female in a Gym

When I walked into the gym yesterday morning it was delightfully empty save a few guys and one gal. I was there to lift some weights and then meet up with one of the girls from my small training group to do the stepmill. I don’t know what is about deadlifts that I like, but man, I like them and I was excited to play. The stepmill, well, it makes me feel accomplished.

It didn’t take me too long to notice one of the gym’s trainers working out*. He noticed me too. After my workout, he approached me and introduced himself. Nothing wrong with that. “If you ever want help with exercises or nutrition, I’m a trainer here. Feel free to ask to me any questions. Are you just trying to lose some weight or tone up? You really don’t want to do a lot of that (pointing to the stepmill and meaning cardio.” He was nice and non-aggressive in his tone, but he immediately assumed I was trying to lose weight. Being fat and female in a gym must automatically mean you’re there to lose weight. Or fat. Sure, I wouldn’t be upset to lose some fat, but that’s not my focus anymore. Part of rejecting the fat phobia and diet culture is realizing that there is nothing wrong with being fat. Yeah, guys. That’s right. It’s okay to be fat. It’s okay to love a fat body. What’s not okay is wasting your life hating yourself and your body, not living in some pursuit of the cultural expectation of the ideal woman. (Men of the world, I know you are not excluded from this, but I am a woman so I am writing about women.)

What was really exciting about this encounter, is that I didn’t immediately retreat to a place of shame and self-loathing and “gee, I really do need to lose weight” or “I must have looked dumb working out.” Nope. I say it again. NOPE. I was able to evaluate the situation and take it without emotion. Hey, this guy is still in the mainstream diet world. The world where everyone desires to be thin and thin equals happy and you can’t have happy without thin. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. He was trying to help (and maybe get a new client.) I told him honestly, I was working out to feel good. That’s what exercise is about. It’s a reward for your body. It’s fun. It brings out a primal drive. It makes other parts of day to day life better because it makes your body, heart, and soul happy. And it just feels good.

 


*I work at this gym, though I’m currently taking a summer sabbatical while working on recovery. My gym is pretty great. I’ve met this trainer once or twice while I was working, but it was long enough ago that I probably look different. Also, I wasn’t dressed in my gym uniform (which is seriously the best work uniform ever. It’s a black logo t-shirt with whatever pants I want to wear – yep, yoga pants.) Since I’m talking about my gym, I would be remiss not mention that there are great trainers there. I’ve been lucky to work with one of the best in KC. Yesterday, I even caught myself correcting my wrist position on a lift.


Here are a couple of great blog posts that deal with a similar theme.

https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/prescribed-to-fat-people-diagnosed-in-thin-people/

https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/tess-holliday-promoting-obesity-and-fat-role-models/