Personally, I hate 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, and 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, and they wore six inch heels instead of shoes with sole support.
You know the saying…before you marry a pretty girl you should first 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, just stay with me here.
Tourists trek up this monstrosity 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 under 1 hour, under 50 mins, 40 mins, even 30 mins (this rank is reserved for professional ultra-runners and the yoga-doing, latte-sipping housewives 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 truly, truly 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 own sweat and every joint and muscle in my legs are protesting for me to stop, I see these people, and I 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 harder battle. They don’t have the easy advantages of a youthful or lean engine. But what keeps them going is their discipline. Their personal 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 over weight and worse for wear, that I have the courage 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, especially if they are used to folks judging them (or appear to be judging). Maybe they think that they look bad when they work out — they sweat too much, get red-faced, 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.
Yes, fat people get judged in many situations, but the typical fit person is going to respect the fat person who goes to the gym. If they spend much time thinking about them at all. 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 really defined,”) or observation (“let’s see what their new lat workout is,”). 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.
What you also should know is 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. Now, I’m probably 10-15 pounds above where I’d like to be, but still pushing weight and running intervals at that same gym. In all that time, people’s attitudes toward me have been mostly welcoming, warm and respectful and at the very worst, maybe indifferent. Never once have I felt disrespected, gawked at or mocked, in fact, 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 for me to overcome my fear of judgement and just 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 work hard, especially someone for whom it’s much difficult to work hard, pushes me to work out harder and regularly, given that I’ve myself gone from fit to fat to fit…
Most fit people think nothing about overweight people in the gym because they are busy with their own workouts. Some fit people respect overweight people for actively working out (or atleast 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 overweight person sitting on the couch, watching tv, eating who-knows-what. The harder I see that overweight person working, the more respect I have for that person. If that person is grunting, groaning, sweating, and/or gasping for air after their workout, I give them more props. Any time a person takes control of their life and decides to make positive changes it is a reason to give out “high-fives”.