I had a lot of negative thoughts about starting the gym at the beginning of this year, not just because I'd only ever been to the gym about four times total in my entire life, but because as a fat woman at the gym, my internalized self hating mind told me fat people just aren't allowed to go to the gym. Obviously, this is stupid as hell and I've since realized that the only person who cared about whether I would "fit in" at the gym was myself.
I'm still fat and I'm still an (on and off) gym aficionado. But there are a whole load of things that I've thought at the gym — usually about farting or whether this workout means I can get a take out for tea — but there's a special set of thoughts that only a plus sizer like myself could possibly consider whilst at the gym.
I feel that working out means a lot more working things out as a plus size woman — there's arguably a whole load more to consider not just physically, but emotionally as well. We have the same concerns towards ass sweat and hot personal trainers as everybody else, just a couple of extra worries that most of the time, aren't even about our weight.
1. Am I still being body positive?
I always stress when I'm going to the gym about whether I'm working out for the "right" reasons. But there are loads of body positive reasons to go to the gym — and even if you're changing your body through exercising, it doesn't mean you hate how your body is right now. Weight loss can sometimes be inevitable; sometimes not. But it doesn't have to be a reason or goal for exercising.
2. Am I sweating more than I should be?
There ain't a correct way to sweat — so don't sweat it! It's a complete myth that the more you sweat the better the workout and I promise there'll always be somebody sweating more than you at the gym! Men sweat more than women, so if it bothers you, place yourself next to a guy who's really going for it.
3. Why isn't my gym outfit as cute as hers?
Well it can be! Cute plus size workout wear is easier to find than you think. But although looking good often makes you feel good, you don't really need to look good to be at the gym!
4. Are people watching me?
I always worry about this because I'm a massive people watcher and I don't really want to be watched whilst I'm gasping for breath, sweat dripping off my chin, redder than a very red thing. Let's be honest, though — everyone's too focused on their own inner stream of, "Am I dying? I'm definitely dying," to worry about how you look like you're dying, too.
5. Do these seats hurt everybody?
I can't go on exercise bikes because they make my crotch hurt and I love myself. I asked my thin friends and they agreed — exercise bike seats just aren't made with vaginas in mind. It's OK: We can just get our cardio elsewhere, thank you very much.
6. How many likes would a gym selfie get?
And would they be for the wrong reasons? I'd hate for a long lost self hating auntie to project her body shaming ways onto the comment section of my Instagram. I might look really good in the gym mirror, but I don't want congratulations on making it in front of a gym mirror.
7. I didn't even know I could sweat there!
Have you ever had your ass crack sweat? Your under-breast area sweat? In between your toes sweat? To be honest, it's actually a thrilling experience once you get over the grossness. I've done something that's made my body produce sweat in places I've never even sweated before. It's basically the same as discovering Mars. I didn't know my body could do this!
8. I didn't even know I could hurt there!
This one goes out for the fatties who are trying the gym for the first time. Athletes come in every shape and size and it's really damaging to assume that thin = healthy and fat = unhealthy. (I sure know a hell of a lot of unhealthy thin people!) But making your muscles hurt in places that you didn't even know there was muscle is liberating to everyone, no matter what your size.
9. When will they invent a sports bra that works?
Currently, I wear a bra under my sports bra and that still doesn't stop my damn chest from bouncing. They might not hurt like they would if I ran sans sports bra, but the effect is still distracting for me and everyone around me. You can get a good sports bra for cheap enough, but I've yet to find one that actually performs the miracles I require from one.
10. I should definitely make a body positive gym playlist when I get home.
Listening to "Fat Bottomed Girls" by Queen makes your workout 100 times more fun, but listening to it on repeat can get kinda annoying. My current gym playlist incorporates a lot of Nicki Minaj and tons of Shania Twain.
11. Is it gross to wait until I get home to shower?
I might be the most simultaneously vulgar and body positive gal I know, but there's nothing appealing about stripping off, washing my bits, and drying them in front of a bunch of toned strangers. Public transport stinks anyway and at least I can sing in the shower at home.
12. Nicki Minaj would be so proud of me.
Minaj is getting pretty well known for her inspirational speeches and in my heart of hearts, I know she would be proud of the courage it took me to get to the gym today and work my ass off.
13. Everyone leaves ass prints on the seat, right?
And everyone should wipe them off as well! I was really worried about this until I walked in on my guy friends talking about the shapes their balls leave on the weight machines after they've been working out. At least we don't leave flap marks...
14. I should definitely piss before I leave the gym.
I didn't even like water (how?) as a child but now as a plus size babe at the gym, I consume three times the amount of the recommended daily intake just during one gym sesh. I also lament the ability to hold your bits when you need to pee that isn't frowned upon when you're a child — make sure to go before you go!
15. I can do anything!
Going to the gym on my own my own terms makes me feel so good. Thanks endorphins!
Images: Tess Holliday/Instagram; Giphy