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  • Jennifer Penney

Being Laughed At in the Gym...

I was laughed at by a guy at the gym. Yup, that's right and its bothered me ever since.

A few months ago, I was working out at my local and very family-oriented gym where I also happen to teach group exercise classes. This particular morning, I was using the TRX to work on some new (and somewhat unusual) exercises. I had noticed a guy working out opposite me, looking over to see what I was doing. This is typical when I work out so I didn't think that much of it. You can imagine my dismay when he broke into loud, outright laughter shortly after I started my next set. I looked up and he was standing in front of me just laughing. A flicker of confusion was followed by annoyance on my part. I gave him a questioning glance... like, what am I missing here? I know the exercise I was working on was not typical (weird, even) but there was nothing overtly funny about it.

Here's a quick video of what I was working on...

In fact, I often use a balloon when I'm working out and frequently get asked questions about it - totally understandable. I know people want in on any "secret" exercises they may be missing out on. ;-) But this was different. He didn't seek to understand, he was trying to put down. To put me in my place. To make me feel stupid. And it worked.

Of course, I finally say "what?" since he's still cracking himself up. And he asks "what on earth are you doing?" with a slight eye-roll expression. Again, not honestly seeking to learn but instead to make fun of. Now, I'm a typically friendly person, I try to always give people the benefit of the doubt and I spend time explaining things to people who ask a legitimate question. And I'm NICE (ugh!!) and I WORK at this gym. So I tell him the balloon is for "core work" (super short answer) and leave it at that. He proceeds to tell me that it's getting "ridiculous" all the silly stuff people are doing nowadays and that I should take it easier so I don't "give myself a heart attack" and then he gets going on his next set of manly pushups.

The wind was knocked out of my sails that morning. I stuck around and finished a few more things because my pride wouldn't let me act as though his stunt had driven me away. But so many things bothered me about this exchange and still do bother me today, months later. Things like... why didn't I tell him off? Why was I even remotely polite? Why was I so nice?! I still don't have a worthy answer for that.

I consider myself a body positive person. I'm grateful to be blessed with this body of mine and I'm happy with the way it looks and performs. If I have a tough time handling being laughed at in the gym, how much worse would it be for a woman who didn't have the confidence that I do? I see so many people struggle to just walk in the door of a gym. If it's not someplace that you're used to being, you don't always feel comfortable at first and you're not sure what to do. The last thing someone new at the gym needs is for someone else to laugh at them.

I have no answers here. January is right around the corner bringing a fresh group of gym recruits and their personal resolutions. If you are a regular gym goer and you see one of these new people, be helpful. A smile and quick "hello" can go such a long way!

Do you have any similar stories from the gym? Or maybe something just like this happened to you but at work? I'd love to hear about it! Comment below or pop back onto my facebook page and tell me about it!


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