Who is looking at the gym?

One of my fears about going to the gym has always been that someone will look at me and be disgusted. Worst case I would see the look on their face, or hear them laugh at me. This self-conscious fear has been a factor in my lack of gym usage.

I have to admit that my wife inadvertently added to this fear. Last weekend we were discussing getting our bicycles back on the road. I told her I needed a new helmet. Part of the reason I wanted to buy a new one was that mine is 10 years old, and I was worried that it was the cycling equivalent of wearing a leather helmet to play football. When I told her this, she laughed hard out loud and said “that’s what you are worried about?” I asked what I should be worried about and she said I should be worried about showing butt crack, or that my ass was too big for the seat.

I thanked her for alerting me to those concerns, which had never crossed my mind! Great, two more things! We both laughed and then I went and bought a stylish new helmet anyway.

But, the gym was still a place where I was concerned about people looking. So, I decided to break down who exactly is at the gym, and whether they are looking at me. I have been to the gym a few times, and have observed who I have seen there. Here are my findings

People working on themselves.  I think this group encompasses the vast majority of people I see. They are people, like me, who have something they are working on. Maybe they are trying to lose weight in general. Maybe they are trying to tone up specific parts of their bodies. Whatever the case, there is something on them that they think needs some work. They are the Average Joes (and Josephines). I would bet the farm that all of them are just as self-conscious as I am. They don’t want anyone looking at them, and they are certainly NOT LOOKING AT ME!

Sculpted gym rats with perfect bodies. This is a numerically small group of people. They have zero percent body fat, and perfect muscle tone. They are there to chisel themselves, or to bulk up some muscle. They use every machine with perfect form and style. Typically they are at the machines near the mirrors so they can watch themselves work out. (Since I mentioned it, what is with all the damn mirrors? I could do with about 80% fewer damn mirrors). This group of people only looks at themselves, or people they may be spotting for in the free weight section. They are too busy with themselves, and they are NOT LOOKING AT ME!

Creepy guys. There are a small number of dudes who go to the gym to scope out women in yoga pants. They are a scourge to society and need to seriously get a life. Some of them might be in one of the two categories above, but either way, they are NOT LOOKING AT ME!

Men and women looking to find their mate. I have heard stories of men and women finding one another at the gym. They meet in spin classes, or yoga. Their eyes meet as they are working out  on a treadmill or elliptical, and harps are heard in the background. I am sure that some people go to the gym with the hope of finding Mr. or Ms Right. I am also sure that those who are doing that aren’t seeking out 52 year old, portly dudes sporting a dated headband and a wedding ring. Bottom line, they are NOT LOOKING AT ME!

Employees and personal trainers. This may be the only group that might look at me. There could be the altruistic, concerned trainer who wants to help me get the most for myself. There could be the profit driven, client seeking trainer who sees my girth and has their eyes turn in to dollar signs. But, none of them are going to give me a hard time. And so far, all of them are NOT LOOKING AT ME!

Conclusion. My rather limited, non-scientific study has shown me that, in fact, NO ONE is looking at me at the gym. My concerns about embarrassing myself are unfounded. Everyone who is there is looking to improve upon some aspect of their physique, just like me.

Now, the only remaining fear is seeing someone I actually KNOW while I am in my sweaty workout gear. I will need to keep my head on a swivel!


  1. Bob, i share your concerns, when I researched where i wanted to work out, I avoided the places with row after row of machines in perfect straight lines, all of the people i could see looked like already well sculpted Barbie and Ken dolls, I am not Barbie, and I wanted to avoid the hulk intimidation and “look at me” philosophy.

    I’m giving Curves a try. All of the ladies there are in various aspects of being out of shape, myself included. I liked the fact that it was all women, the machines are designed for women, and there is no pressure to join any specific class, though I have found when I am there on Saturdays, I can join in on a Jillian Michaels workout if I want. There are always coaches available if I should have a brain fart and forget how to use something, I also like the fact that every part of my body is getting worked. Not to the point of exhaustion, but i get my heart rate up, and feel good. My hairdresser -my age, said she thought Curves was a bunch of “old ladies” working out. That comment hit me. So I looked around the next few times I went, and although there are some elderly ladies, I struggle to keep up with half of what I see them do. If I am the youngest one there, then so be it, I’m not there for anyone other than ME. Chuck found an online exercise program called BodBot. They send him exercises each week geared for his specific goals, and he also has a Bob Harper dvd, He seems to use both regularly. he can tell you all about them if you are interested. He has a routine in the comfort of our basement. I”m not as disciplined. I share this with you to let you know you are not alone. Hang in there, Im certain you will find something that works for you, Stay focused, give it time. You will succeed.


  2. Your last concern…. not a concern… Most likely the person you see is there working out also… and you guesssed it they are all sweaty and in their workout gear also. LOL Everyone is there for the same reason and EVERYONE has the same fears as you no matter what size shape or reason they are in the gym. EVERYONE in the world is self conscious. I always tell myself I don’t care what these people think of me now. In a month from now i won’t even look the same as i do at this very moment and i keep pushing myself and eventually I will reach my goal. IF there are any people out htere that are judging you at the gym just keep pushing yourself. One day those people will be lookin towards you for advice. They are normally the people who spend so much time watching and judging people that they don’t ever reach their goals. So push push push and don’t EVER let anyone bring you down!!
    Em J


      1. That’s where you are WRONG Bobby! Trust me when i say this there IS someone else at that gym that is watching you and wishing they had your body and your drive. I’ve learned that EVERYONE always thinks they have the worst body or are sooo out of shape but there is always someone out there worse off! You are someone’s role model. I can tell you that you are a full leap ahead of everyone already by the looks of this post. Most people don’t have everyone figured out at the gym. 95% of the people inside the gym think everyone is watching them. Most people won’t even step foot inside the gym because of that specific reason. So Keep your head up and your feet moving!! You got this!! Don’t EVER give up!!


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