When I go to the gym, I am no longer intimidated by others. There was a time when I had to force myself to go because I felt so inadequate compared to the “buff girls”. I felt fat and frumpy. Even though I have been blessed with good genes, and I am tall and relatively thin, I still don’t like my body. I now realize that no matter how good someone looks, they still don’t think they look good enough. No one looks in the mirror and thinks “Wow, I’m so beautiful, my muscles are divine, and I am awesome looking”. (Well, I’m sure there are some who do that, but not the majority of us, particularly women.)
One day, when I was doing my best to be inconspicuous and lift my measly light weights, one of the trainers came up to me and said “Your arms are looking great -keep it up!” She made my day, even my week! I couldn’t believe what a few words, from someone who looked much better than me, meant to me. Even if she didn’t mean it, it gave me a boost of badly needed confidence. Ever since then, I have tried to say one encouraging or kind word to someone every day at the gym.
If there is a very large person there, I try especially hard to make them feel welcome. It takes a lot of guts to go to the gym when you are seriously obese, and I give them great credit for taking steps to better themselves. We never know where someone started their journey, so we don’t know how far they have come. Maybe they have already lost 100 lbs and feel great about themselves. If they feel like they are being laughed at they won’t return. So give them a pep talk – help them out and make them feel welcome. It costs you nothing for this random act of kindness, and can mean the world to them.
On the other end of the spectrum are the body builders. Even though they look great, and better than I can ever hope to be, I always try to tell them that their arms look great, or that I can tell they have been working on their shoulders, or something to encourage them.
It is hard to keep seeing results sometimes and a compliment may make the difference to them to try a little harder, or keep going a little longer. As I said above, just because someone looks great doesn’t mean that they feel great about themselves. A lot of body builders work out because they suffer from low self esteem to begin with.
So let’s all practice these random acts of kindness. Say something nice to someone at the gym today. They will feel great, and therefore so will you!