by Zack Beauchamp
A reader writes:
I'm sympathetic to your overweight reader who feels intimidated by the gym. It is a scary place. But the thing is–everyone is intimidated at the gym. It is scary for everyone. I go every week with someone I can outlift, but three racks down from me is someone who can squat three times the weight I can. And if not that, there's some guy who's built like a tank, grunting every rep and throwing dumbbells around, and maybe someone's rolling their eyes at his myogenic melodrama instead of judging the person who's got some extra weight and is trying to better themselves. Or maybe everyone should just worry about their own routine and fuck off.
At any rate, if you feel intimidated at the gym, I kind of think that's half the point. No matter how fit you are, there's someone who's more fit. Get inspired.
And the other thing is: she doesn't need a trainer. She doesn't need to be doing jumping jacks at whatever pace he thinks is necessary. If she eats at a caloric deficit she'll lose weight. Do something, do anything.
A second complicates the discussion:
I lost about 90 lbs. I lost the most weight when I stopped going to the gym.
I was on a program that was all about calorie intake (surprise – it works), and the physiologist who designed the program actually advised that I not exercise too much. He proscribed some light weight training, mostly bodyweight exercises, a few times a week to maintain muscle. The idea is that you lose weight when you feed your body just enough an no more. Vigorous exercise requires more calories than your body can burn in fat at the rate their needed.
Also, I'm an ex-football player – my joints really don't miss all of the extra strain from weight-training. Exercise is a good thing. People can exercise in gyms. The key is knowing what you actually want with your body and the healthiest, most effective ways to get it. Seeing an overweight, middle-aged person trying to shed pounds on the bench press is, to me, ridiculous.
A third takes a somewhat different view:
The social stigmas and constructs surrounding the idea of "the gym" are bizarre. I've transformed myself from an extremely obese 270lb person into a typical gym rat and, through the looking glass, I see that judging people trying to get healthy or look better is the furthest thing from any regular gym user's mind. If anything, I feel proud of them for having the guts and enduring the pain necessary to get what they want. The idea that there is some sort of process of "body shaming" that forces fat people from gyms is the most ridiculous type of hyperbolic imaginary bullshit.