My husband and I belong to Planet Fitness, you know the gym with all the purple. They pride themselves on being a “judgement free zone”, and I don’t know anyone else’s experiences with them but I have found that 100% true. I feel completely comfortable with the staff and the other people there, and love that they are all about no judgement and a healthy workout environment. Another place that I have found safe haven in would be the classes with Philly Dance Fitness. They are all about supportive instructors, having a great workout, and no judgement. I have never once felt self conscious in a class, and always feel so welcomed coming in and energized going out. I absolutely love feeling like this, that feeling that no one is judging your choices or journey. That you can work on you, and they can work on them. After many workouts, or during my normal day, I take the web to my fitness Instagram(bshanbefit). Where I am part of a “no body shaming, no judgement” community, the FitGirl community, where people post workouts, recipes, motivation, and all kinds of fitness info. It’s my happy place filled with sunshine and rainbows. We cheer each other’s progress, and there is no room for body shaming or judgement.
Unfortunately life is not a Planet Fitness, and it’s rare that I have found the one corner of the internet not yet plagued by trolls. I am not immune to crappy fact that, the world is not judgement free and being judged is a pretty gross feeling. It’s something that can literally bring down anyone’s day. Where you have been working hard on your fitness, and you decide you can have a piece of pizza or take a nice lazy rest day. We’ve all done it, we know we aren’t the only ones who do it. But someone’s prying eye and judgmental voice will highlight your mistake. “I thought you were eating healthy?” or “What no workout today? Have you given up?”. Just like that they have let all the air out of your party balloon. That can be emotional, and fitness kryptonite. Many times they will be “joking” or trying to “help”, and other times comments can be more or less condescending. Sometimes these judgements come from people we don’t know. You get those looks from sales people, random customers wherever you happen to be shopping, or anyone around you. My sister and I often joke, “I saw a baby in a stroller today. And he was judging me!” But strangers can often judge you when they don’t know you, and I recently had a friend who was judged for being too thin in a plus size clothing area! It can hurt, and it really sucks for other people to pass judgement.
So can you do about it? Well there are several things we can do. My first move was to find a judgement free areas for my fitness. I belonged to one gym, and I felt really uncomfortable there. Planet Fitness is actually the third gym I have belonged to, and I think it’ll be sticking for awhile. Another thing is to surround yourself with positive people, I have a text group with some co workers. I can tell them I ate something I shouldn’t have, or I didn’t workout. They will tell me it’s only one ice cream, or they will convince me to workout even if it’s just at home. You can control your inner circle of friends, so just keep the ones you are lifting you up and steering away from the toxic people. Also please remember you get back what you put out, judgement free is the way to be, so you also need to make sure not to judge others. But what about the jerks in the world? The ones who are giving you those looks in the grocery store, or giving you that fake smile as their words try to icepick in the brain with judgement and self doubt. Well to quote one of my theatre kids, “I like to turn my haters into motivators!” This wisdom from a wise 13 year old girl, comes in handy for me. When people are judgmental I start to have mental conversations with myself. First I ignore their comment, they don’t know my life or my journey! Then I remind myself they are coming from a place of ignorance, a place where they need to 1) make themselves feel better or 2) they are just a truly mean person and therefore aren’t worth your time. I try my best to ignore whatever was said, or the look that was given. If it’s someone I know I 100% try not to say anything back, no use lowering yourself. Use their crap to motivate a workout, write it down in your food log so you see it by all your hard work which crushes that negativity, or better yet give it all the time it deserves(which is no time at all, you need to be too busy being awesome).
It still hurts sometimes, and it still sucks that people can be judgmental. When it comes to my own personal response to judgement it really is a toss up. I am totally benefitting in the judgement free workout zones, it makes me want to workout more and try new classes knowing that I am in a safe space. It actually builds my confidence to make me more self assured when I am out trying new things, I know I can just block out the voices most of the time. Then are times I vent to Jim about something that judgement happens, and erupt like a volcano of anger and upset. When you struggle with fitness and health, the last thing you need is someone judging you, when you’ve probably judged yourself more than your fair share. It’s ok to be ticked off by it, but please don’t let it derail you or fester. I always have to remember to try to brush it off and keep going. You are worth more than that. I try to remind myself I am worth more than that.