I hate the gym. And the gym hates me back. It’s a mutual hate-hate relationship

I wouldn’t say I like the gym. And the gym hates me back. It’s a mutual hate-hate relationship. I have terrible form and the upper body strength of a dented paper clip. But I have strong legs. I’m good at going uphill and climbing things. So I hike like nobody’s business; by nobody’s business, I mean 2-3 times a week.

There is a tourist death trap in the city where I’m from, Vancouver. It’s known officially as the Grouse Grind and affectionately by locals as Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.

Every year, without fail, rescue helicopters are sent up the Grouse Grind to rescue tourists stranded on the trail. Why? Because it’s a 1.8-mile hike with a 2,800 feet elevation gain, they wore six-inch heels instead of shoes with sole support.

You know the saying…before you marry a pretty girl, you should see her in a bathing suit, first thing in the morning and after an arduous hike? Well, this is the hike.

I will get around to answering the actual question; stay with me here.

Tourists trek up this horror because of the view up top. It’s an otherworldly kind of breathtaking. But locals do it because they’re a part of the Grouse Grind cult following. It takes a person of average fitness 1.5 hours – 2 hours to complete the hike. Competitive locals like to do it in under 1 hour, under 50 mins, 40 mins, or even 30 mins (this rank is reserved for professional ultra-runners and the yoga-doing, latte-sipping homemakers of Vancouver).

It gives me a jolt of dopamine whenever I scamper past tourists in 6-inch heels. Ha! I win in life! And when someone faster passes me? Well, whatever, it’s not a race.

The trail brings together people of all demographics, but there are two types of people I meet on the Grind I indeed pay my respects to. The 70-and-over club and the, as you say, “over-weight” people.

Because even as I’m doused in my sweat, and every joint and muscle in my legs are protesting for me to stop, I see these people and am brought down to earth and humbled. We are experiencing the same treacherous 90-degree incline, but I don’t doubt for a second that they are fighting a more challenging battle. They don’t have the easy advantages of a youthful or lean engine. But what keeps them going is their discipline. Their victories are lost on the casual observer because they are the slower folks. But they keep coming back and subject themselves to torturous physical pain.

So when I see these people on my hike, I only hope that when the day comes that I am old or even overweight and worse for wear, I dare to keep coming back and keep going.

What do fit people think about overweight people at the gym?

I understand that going to a gym makes some overweight people self-conscious, mainly if they are used to folks judging them (or appear to be feeling). Maybe they think that they look bad when they work out — they sweat too much, get red-faced, and don’t move as fast or as gracefully as those few people who (IMO) tend to spend way too much time and energy perfecting their physiques.

Fat people get judged in many situations, but the typical fit person will respect the overweight person who goes to the gym if they spend much time thinking about them. The gym rat type is usually more likely to judge the other gym rats, and a lot of it is comparison (“their lats are getting defined”) or observation (“let’s see what their new lat workout is”). On the other hand, the super-fit person is interested in the minutiae of fitness and perfecting their workout, so if they’re noticing or judging anyone, it’s the poor soul who put on four pounds over the holidays.

You also should know that gym rats often have body image issues and may feel just as self-conscious about being judged as overweight people. But, gah, basing your decisions on what gym rats may think is a recipe for disaster.

I once was overweight at the gym. Then I became a much slimmer version of myself and still went to the same gym. I’m probably 10-15 pounds above where I’d like to be, but I’m still pushing weight and running intervals at that same gym. In all that time, people’s attitudes toward me have been chiefly welcoming, warm, respectful, and at the very worst, maybe indifferent. Never once have I felt disrespected, gawked at, or mocked; I have found the gym to be somewhat more supportive than the “real world.” For the most part, everyone there knows how hard it is to commit to being fit, and they seem to respect you no matter what stage of achievement you are at.
Now that I am a “fitter” gym member, I hope I am as supportive and non-judgemental as people have always been to me. After all, I know how hard it was to overcome my fear of judgment and get myself there.

I can’t help feeling weirdly happy when I look at an overweight person working out at the gym! Even if just for a moment, I almost love them! I think, “Brilliant job, you there!”.

Plus, I get extra motivation. Looking at someone else who works hard, especially for whom it’s much more difficult, pushes me to work out harder and regularly, given that I’ve gone from fit to fat to fit…

Most fit people think nothing about overweight people in the gym because they are busy with their workouts. However, some healthy people respect fat people for actively working out (or at least trying to).

You have to start somewhere, right?

That’s the purpose of the gym: to get fit! I applaud the overweight people at the gym. They are a million steps closer to fitness than the fat person sitting on the couch, watching tv, and eating who-knows-what. The harder I see that overweight person working, the more respect I have for that person. If that person grunts, groans, sweats, and gasps for air after their workout, I give them more props. Any time someone takes control of their life and makes positive changes, it is a reason to give “high-fives.”

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