Well Being

30 by 30: I’m Better Than You At Fitness Classes, But I Have Way More Anxiety

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fitness class anxiety

In the battle of the best exercises to lose weight, every single person has a different opinion based on personal preference. Myself? I absolutely despise running, but classify myself as a bona-fide gym class junkie. Along with my good friend, BlissTree’s own Gym Classy Lady, I prefer the energy of a group environment and have tried a myriad of gym classes over the years. My competitive spirit takes over and I’m determined to outshine every other person in the class and get personal praise from the instructor (I know, I know… I have issues.) And friends, let me tell you – there’s nothing I love more than when my yoga teachers have me demonstrate a pose. It might as well be gym class crack.

In addition to the standard spinning, yoga, Pilates and weight lifting classes, over the years I've added quite a few other fitness class experiences to my list:

  • jumped on a mini trampoline
  • hung upside down in yoga “wings”
  • kickboxed, real boxed, and various other forms of aggressive fighting
  • Soul-Cycled
  • funk danced and hip-hopped  til I dropped
  • TRX trained
  • bootcamp-ed
  • step classed my heart out

…and the most crazy of all? I joined a D1 athlete training camp for five months in 2011 and did everything from pushing tires to sledgehammer pounds and crab crawls. INTENSE.

With all of these classes under my belt, you’d think I’d be a gym class pro. But no matter how athletic and fit I am, there’s something about being overweight in a room full of tiny girls that gives me a full blown case of anxiety…Every. Single. Time.

I’m not sure if it's normal, or full-blown crazy, but there’s nothing that gives me the urge to give up like those three minutes right before a class starts. I’m convinced that all other students there came together and are friends who will leave to go brunch together as soon as the class lets out. And I know for sure that they're all judging me–wondering if I’ll be able to keep up over the next hour, taking bets on how long until I quit and run out of the class. I contemplate ditching the class and just never coming back. But as soon as the dancing/spinning/downward dogging begins, I forget about them and just bust my ass for 45-90 minutes. And I don’t give it another thought.

Gyms that don’t allow fat people and gyms that don’t allow skinny people have been kicking up huge controversy this year, and I can relate more than I’d like to admit. Wouldn’t we all be more comfortable if everyone looked like us and was on the exact same fitness level? I actually don't think so. Working alongside people of varying fitness levels gives us something to strive for–and conversely, it can serve as a good reminder of how far we've come (or where we could end up if we don't stick with our fitness plan).

What comes along with the gym anxiety I feel is aspiration. You can always tell when it’s a heavier person's first day at the gym, especially in January. What an amazing feeling. To know that today is starting your journey to fitness. Why would we ever create an environment that discourages that feeling? That makes even seasoned gym rats feel anxious before their favorite class.

I think that’s why I strive to be the person that does the headstand demo in yoga. I’ve worked hard and I like others to know that they can do it too. You don’t have to be the skinniest person in a gym class to be the best…you just have to work the hardest. And as for those gyms that only want a certain type of person there? I don’t want to workout there anyway.

Weekly Weigh-In:

HIGH: Wearing my favorite outfit in Miami and confidently dancing the night away with some of my favorites.

LOW: After rejoicing that my morning elliptical sessions in Florida had paid off, my dad gently informed me that his scale was 3 lbs lighter than your actual weight, meaning those 3 lbs I thought I lost were fictional. FAIL.

+/-: 0 pounds (total –1 lb)