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What the Buff Bodies in a Gym REALLY Stare At

Updated on July 3, 2019
Lorra Garrick profile image

Former ACE-certified personal trainer Lorra Garrick has trained men & women for fat loss, muscle building, more strength and more fitness.

Afraid those with a perfect body will stare at you while you’re exercising in a gym? Come with me and let me tell you what will REALLY happen when you enter a gym…

Many morbidly obese and even moderately overweight people report that they have a case of gym intimidation; too self-conscious to go to a health club, especially during its most crowded times. They believe they’ll be the center of attention due to their size.

Overweight? Gym-Phobic? Try this Experiment

Imagine you’re inside a gym, and there are many people inside as well.

  • What kind of gym member would grab your attention and hold it?
  • What sort of gym patron would make you stare at her?
  • What traits would this person have that would compel you to put down the dumbbell and just … stare?

Let me guess. What would seize your attention and make you keep staring at that individual might be any of the following:

  • She has a dog with her.
  • He’s covered from head to toe with tattoos.
  • She’s lifting unbelievable amounts of weight.
  • He has magenta spiked hair and keeps singing out loud.

It’s a safe bet that if you were working out at a gym – and you’re obese – you would not be staring at other people there just because they’re obese.

Likewise, those with buff bodies won’t be outright staring at you because they’re just too interested in their own program.

If you're very overweight, you already know that people will stare—for a moment.

You can’t change human nature. If you saw a woman who appeared to have anorexia nervosa…you’d stare—possibly for longer than a moment. It’s human nature to take a look at someone who doesn’t blend in.

I was once staring at a very plump, pear shaped, grey haired woman who was doing the deadlift exercise.

What caught my attention was three things: 1) how much she was lifting, 2) her body shape, and 3) her apparent age (she could have been 60).

I thought to myself, “How the heck can a woman built like that deadlift 265?”

I was quite impressed. If she had been simply pedaling on the elliptical machine or sitting on a bench using small dumbbells, I would have never noticed her.

Her short torso, large hands and a lot of grit gave her an advantage in the deadlift. I hope she competes in powerlifting competitions (her squat was pretty darned good, too!).

People Will Always Stare at People in a Gym

People will stare at the very overweight, the very thin, the very muscled, the very tall, the very tattooed, the very purple hair, and the very average looking.

You cannot let this stop you from working out your body. And if a few people are looking at you for too long, how do you know it’s because of your size?

Maybe the two thin women who are watching you are admiring your hair.

Could the Barbie doll on the nearby equipment possibly be harboring hostile feelings towards you because you’re doing what she’s doing – exercising?

In all fairness, you need to accept the fact that, if you’re exceptionally large, some people will watch you to see what kind of exercise you’ll be doing.

But even THIS depends on what it looks like you’re about to do. If you get onto cardio equipment, I doubt anyone would stare. But if a 280 pound woman heads to a bench press station and loads a barbell with a 45 pound plate on each side – she WILL be stared at.

They won’t be looking at your thighs, though. They’ll be waiting to see how many reps you can do with 135 pounds – as they would if you weighed only 120 pounds.

Don't brandish all women with this body type as rude at the gym. They probably have no idea that you're exercising nearby.
Don't brandish all women with this body type as rude at the gym. They probably have no idea that you're exercising nearby.

Let Go of the Stereotype

Let's not stereotype people with “great bodies” as being hostile in judgment. They may have once been where you are.

What’s there to stare at? The obese person puts the pin in the weight stack and starts lifting. What’s there to look at? They’re on the elliptical machine and pedaling. What’s there to look at?

People will look at you because you just walked into the area. People look at ME when I newly enter a workout area. People will always look at the new person who enters a room. This will happen to you, whether you’re 280 pounds or 118 pounds.

Now if you’re very large, people will note this no matter where you are: movie theatre, bank, post office, shoe store, dentist’s office, tire shop, furniture shop, drug store, grocery store…and health club.

Those with buff bodies and six-packs are too concerned about their own bodies to stop what they’re doing to stare at yours for longer than it would take for them to acknowledge that a new person has entered the room – and perhaps, as mentioned, to see what you’re about to do with those 40 pound dumbbells.

Most People at a Crowded Gym Do NOT Have Perfect Bodies

In the free weight area, most of the men and women are on the lean side, with varying degrees of muscularity.

In the machine (weight-stack) area and cardio equipment area, most of the men and women are not lean and muscular. The key word is “most.”

Thus, overall, most people in the entire typical gym building do not look like fitness models. A very overweight individual would not stand out like a sore thumb, as these days, quite a few members are overweight.

The big fad today is to work up the “confidence” to put a bikini on a very plus-size body. But then what? Where do you go from there? It’s like, okay, I finally did it. THEN WHAT?? A bikini is just a prop.

If you want to prove to yourself that you have real confidence, then realize that life is full of intimidating circumstances – and many of those are within your control – like going inside a gym.

Here, it’s not about how you look (as a bikini shot is). It’s about what your body can do and learn to do. It’s about the rush of doing something today at the gym that, a few months ago, was outright impossible. Now THAT’S a shot of confidence!

If people are going to stare at your plus size body – it may as well be working out.

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