It’s New Years, which means tons of people joining (or going back) to the gym. Of course, fitness, by any definition, is never an obligation or barometer of worthiness (running a marathon and watching a Netflix marathon are morally equivalent activitiest!) But there’s nothing wrong with people choosing to go to the gym. Unfortunately for fat people, it can also mean people sharing their thoughts (and I use the term loosely) about us and our workouts.
In addition to the fact that people of all sizes just want to be left TF alone when we’re at the gym, there’s the issue that people choose to visit their stereotypes on fat people who are just trying to work out. Below is a list of some of the things you should never, ever say to a fat person at the gym:
“Good for you for starting a workout program!”
You don’t know anything about this person’s workout history. If you’re assuming they are starting a workout program because they are fat, you’re operating from weight bias. If you are assuming they are starting a workout program because you’ve never seen them before, you’re operating out of idiocy. You don’t know if that person has been working out at another gym before this or, for that matter, if they are starting a workout “program” or just here for a one-off workout, if they are a beginner because they’re switching activities as part of a lifetime of fitness activities. You don’t know, so don’t guess, and certainly resist the urge to turn your guesses into speech.
“Keep going and you’re going to lose that weight!”
I mean…just…ugh. Don’t do this. You have no way of knowing if weight loss is even a goal of the person you’re talking to (and, regardless, they can’t be expected to lose weight long-term regardless since almost everyone who attempts weight loss loses weight short term but gains it all back longterm.) Basically, you’re saying “Hi stranger, I want you to know that I think your body is wrong, but believe that with continued attendance at the gym you’ll become more of what I think you should be.” Just don’t.
I’ve seen you here a lot, you’re doing great
Ok Creepy McCreeperson, take two steps back. Maybe instead of monitoring other people’s gym attendance (and then making sure they know you are doing it,) you just focus on your own workout, ok pumpkin?
You won’t lose weight doing that!
I have heard this while doing cardio, strength building, and flexibility work. So good news, people understand that weight loss is highly unlikely. Bad news, I was never trying to lose weight, nor was I soliciting the opinions of randos at the gym. So annoying.
Don’t say these things, don’t say anything that is these-things-adjacent.
Before I wrap this up, I want to address the inevitable objections:
But some people might be helped by my seriously questionable behavior!
Maybe, but the potential for harm overrides any potential for helping. Also, you’re not the fat person whisperer, and there’s no “encouraged a fatty” merit badge to be earned, so pipe down and return to your own workout.
But surely there are exceptions to this rule!
There absolutely are. If someone says “please make assumptions about my workout history, assume that I’m trying to lose weight, monitor my presence at the gym, and give me unsolicited workout advice” then knock yourself out. Otherwise, it’s a no.