I’ve been noticing something happening on Facebook lately: more and more people are posting about exercising. I think this is awesome (you’re working hard – be proud!), however, what I do take issue with is a sudden onset of “gym snobbery” in some folks.
What is gym snobbery? Well, my definition is the act of expressing any sort of superiority over others based solely on the fact that you work out, especially when your comments are directed at other gym go-ers. For example, around New Years, I can’t count how many people posted rants on Facebook about “resolutioners” and how they need to get out of the way / go to another gym / give up already. One particular ranter really grated my nerves when he said these “fat, lazy” people should go “back to their couches where they belong”.
I’m all for freedom of speech, but really people? This really bugs me for several reasons…
1. First, I find it unbearable (and even laughable) how big some people’s “Facebook balls” are. Why has it become acceptable for people to say horrible, hurtful things on social media? I would bet my last dollar that 99.9% of those posting about these so-called “fat, lazy” people would never, ever say something like that to someone’s face. So why is it ok to hide behind the facade of Facebook? In my opinion, it’s not, but I’m sure the reason is because it’s safe. Any retaliation will be minor – and can easily be ignored. So what if you work out and have big muscles – if you have to hide behind social media to rant, you’re a bit of a chicken. And for the record – starting a sentence with “No offense, but…” does not give you free reign to just say whatever rude or callous comment you’d like – in real life OR online. What’s the point of working on your external appearance if what’s on the inside isn’t so pretty?
2. Secondly, be nice. You were not born lifting weights and running a 6-minute mile, so don’t expect that of anyone else. Any time we make a change in our lives, whether that’s eating better, working out or quitting a bad habit, we need to start from square one. Getting into shape takes time and commitment for anyone, including yourself (if you recall), so why are you expecting someone else to know their way around a gym immediately? As someone who will be VERY out of shape once I can start exercising again, I beg you: please give us time. Yes, there will be people who stop going to the gym after a few weeks, but that’s their decision to make. Do you really want your cold stares and eye rolls to be part of the reason they quit? I sure wouldn’t.
3. Finally, isn’t it kind of ironic that people who are so devoted to physical fitness are the ones chastising others’ efforts to get into shape? Exercise is recommended for almost everyone’s well-being, so it should be encouraged and ANY effort applauded. The fitness buffs I respect the most are not the ones with the nicest abs or the fastest mile time. Instead, they all have the following characteristic in common:
They support and encourage others’ accomplishments, no matter how trivial the accomplishment may seem.
A story involving my mom is a perfect example of this. For most of her life, my mom was very active. She played several sports in high school and was part of a co-ed softball team for many of her adult years. But as it often does, work, children and life in general got in the way of maintaining that lifestyle. However, this year, my mom decided she wanted to start doing 5K races. She did her first one this earlier this month, and I am so proud of her!
Did she come in first place? Of course not. In fact, she even took breaks to walk. Did the runners and race volunteers waiting at the finish line roll their eyes and shake their heads when she finished? Of course not. They cheered and encouraged her to finish strong. And you know what? My mom cannot wait to do her next race. I wonder if she would feel the same way had those people reacted negatively.
Bottom line – if a Boston marathoner can congratulate a woman who just ran a 5K more than three times slower than he did, you can certainly support someone who is using the elliptical for the first time.
So – stop the gym snobbery! Instead, be the person others seek out when they have questions, want advice or just need motivation. THAT will make you attractive on the inside, since you clearly already have the outside covered.