Fitness #1 – Gym Shaming

Okay…I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and I’ve tried to ignore it…tried to justify it…but I can’t ignore it any more.  I’m talking about…..gym shaming or more exactly exercise studio shaming.


I have been going to an exercise studio for over a year (I won’t give the name).  It is a very specific, one type of exercise studio that is a nationwide chain.  I have really enjoyed the classes, but I’ve noticed something creeping in more and more and I have to talk about it and see if anyone else has experienced it.


What I originally LOVED when I started there is now the things that bothers me the most.  The instructors get to know everyone’s names so that during the class they can say great job Sue or you got it Pam or great form Betty….etc.  I have noticed several things about this.  I REALLY rely on those positive nuggets during the class and I even count how many times in a class I get the pat on the back.  I am mad at myself because I shouldn’t be counting on someone else’s opinion to feel good about what I am doing in class.  It is my workout and NO ONE should interrupt that flow or how I am feeling about my workout.  So why do I depend so much on it and then when I only get one or two back pats, I feel like I just didn’t succeed in that class?  Sometimes I feel like I an invisible.


I do notice that people who work in the studio at the desk or other instructors who do the classes get the MOST pats on the back when they really need the least amount because they do it perfectly and get paid to do it OR get free classes.  I am one of the older people in the class and all the younger, more flexible people get the most kudos.  I know that I don’t do the moves perfectly, but I always give 100% and I feel a little bit of ageism creeping in.  I don’t like the feel of it:(   I don’t want to sound like sour grapes…that’s not my point.  I was just throwing out feelers to see if anyone else has experienced this.

Have you experienced any type of gym shaming?  What do you do to quiet the chatter in your mind or focus on what is important?  Let me know.  Thanks for your feedback.


  • I haven’t experienced anything like that, but in my opinion I don’t think a trainer should say anything – yes it’s nice to get a pat on the back, but if they’re doing if lots to others and occasionally you then (as you say) it kind of gets to you.
    The gym is very personal and it should be down to you (and only you) to praise yourself so that you can be proud of yourself and the hard work you put it! At the end of the day all you give is 100% 🙂

    • I know it’s up to me to feel good about myself, but it’s just so in your face…I can’t help but be affected:(

  • scary to think about this. I just had a baby and I cant wait to start going to the gym but things like this definitely make it not that exciting to get back! GL XO

    • Don’t let my experience affect you:) There are a lot of great gyms and studios out there:)

  • I am a big believer in belonging to a gym that is supportive of your overall health and well-being. I’m sorry if you aren’t feeling valued but don’t take it personally. I’ve belonged to many gyms–some I felt very welcomed and encouraged, others I didn’t. If your workouts are fulfilling and you feel like something is lacking, take a break from your regular gym and get a free pass to try some other ones. Do you have Class Pass? Variety is a good thing!

    • I actually belong to another studio and a spin studio which I LOVE…just wanted feedback from others to see if they experienced it

  • I wish I could help! That is unfortunate you feel this way and they treat you like that. I go to a gym but just for the group fitness and I know a lot of people feel nervous or left out. My trick is get as close to the front as possible! I usually stick myself in a corner. That way all I’m looking at or paying attention to is the instructor and myself. Not others in the class. Hope this helps!

  • I wonder if they just tend to remember names more easily of the ones who work there because they interact with them a little more often. I’m so bad with names, it’d be hard for me to remember a whole class. But I do get where you’re coming from…that motivation is really helpful!
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  • I can’t say I have ever experienced this before (I’m more of a lone gym person though) but I can understand the frustration. I think it’s easier to be validating to people that you are closest to so maybe since they have a stronger relationship with the other gym workers they naturally talk to them more. It is their job though to reach out to everyone else though. Maybe try being the encourager to other people! They will probably give it right back 🙂

    • Like I said, the ones who are working hardest and aren’t perfect are the ones who need the encouragement most:)

  • This is something that bothers me too! I notice in my barre classes the teachers praise the SAME people!

  • I have never personally been gym shamed but I’ve seen it. It was one of the reasons I stopped going to a certain gym a couple years ago, I couldn’t handle the trainer fat shaming his client. It was cruel, he made her cry. I have found in yoga the teachers always encourage and move through the entire class. Every single person gets a touch or a comment. It’s one of the things that really made me happy about yoga.
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  • I know easier said than done, but try not to let others opinion of you bother you. You are already doing great for being so consistent at working out, it is not one bit easy! And if you still need some recognition, be vocal about it (in a smart way), maybe just casually ask the instructor, ‘how am I doing, do you think I am getting this move right, is there something I can change or improve, etc’, it will automatically get the instructor to pay you more attention and also prompt them to acknowledge how good you are at what you are doing 🙂
    xx, Kusum |

    • I JUST talked to a yoga instructor today at my chiropractor’s office…she does a beginner’s class that I am going to try:)

  • I have mixed feelings about praising people in situations like that. I think it is good, but at the same time EVERYBODY should be praised. Not everybody shares the same talent, but as you said, you were putting your best work in that that in itself deserves praise.

  • I actually stopped going to classes for this very reason, more or less. It almost felt like I was back in high school – as if there were some clique that I was excluded from! Now I work out without classes at all, but I understand how not everyone feels comfortable doing this. Sorry to hear you’re going through this! x Natalie

    • Just wanted to see if others experienced what I did, I don’t want others to be unhappy, but it makes me feel better than it isn’t just me. Thanks for your words of encouragement.

  • I think it’s great, and sometimes really helpful, to be told you are doing something right or how to improve. But I think there should be equity in a class. Equal amount of time/comments made to every attendee. – Katy

  • I agree with everything you said!! It’s hard to not feel bad, because of the favoritism of sorts, but try and let it not bother you the best you can 🙂

    • I just went on Wednesday and felt so good after the class…I just have to focus on those feelings

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