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Overcoming gym phobia

Overcoming gym phobia

Melissa and Loralie have partnered with Advocate Condell Centre Club to spend the next year working to achieve their health goals. They’ll be documenting their steps to get Movin’ and Improvin’ and be fit by 40. This is not a weight loss series, this is a journey towards health. Read the series introduction to learn more. Today we hear from Loralie…

Once upon a time, I was afraid to enter a gym. Even at my lowest adult weight, I was convinced I would be identified as a fraud.

Despite having recently conquered daunting athletic feats, my emotional fitness had not caught up with my physical fitness.

I imagined that everyone was staring at me. While working out on the cardio deck, I could never keep my eyes off of other people’s dashboards. If my neighbor was running at 6 mph, well darn it, I had to run at 6.2 mph. I would show them I belonged!

I was convinced people were actually counting my bicep curls, and while at the time, I could fit into a size medium athletic tank, I was constantly pulling and readjusting my clothes for fear a roll or crease would reveal itself. A giant blinking red arrow that would announce “Intruder Alert!”

Doesn’t that all sound exhausting?

Fast forward eight years… I am now at my highest adult weight, and I could care less what level your elliptical machine is on. Frankly, I’m more concerned about raising my own heart rate than knowing yours.

Is that my belly jiggling? Why yes it is, and it must mean I’m working hard.

My shirt is clinging. That means I’m sweating. Sweating means I’m alive. Sweating means I’m moving and capable.

While catching my breath between deadlifts, I take a look around. Who’s at Centre Club today?

There’s a woman in a wheelchair getting rehab. There’s an older gentleman on the rowing machine. There’s a heavyset couple on neighboring treadmills. There’s a muscular young woman in Lululemon running stairs. At Centre Club, I see people of all shapes, sizes, genders, ages and ethnic backgrounds.

I don’t know why they are here. I can really only imagine their stories. Maybe that elderly woman is training for a triathlon; maybe that thin woman is in recovery from an eating disorder; maybe that man just doesn’t want to have a heart attack at age 50. Does it really matter? All that matters is that they are here, today, making the choice to do something positive for their health. They’re not looking to see how many pounds I can deadlift. They are on their own journey.

I wasted too many years worrying about how big I looked on the outside. If only I had taken the trouble to really see how small I had become on the inside. 

Maybe you’re not interested in all that and just want updates on my physical progress. I’ve been Movin’ and Improvin’ for six months now. I’m not going to tell you how much I’ve shrunk (and I have), but I am going to tell you how much I’ve grown.

Last year, I took my kids to a rock climbing gym. They begged me to climb with them, but I was afraid of being embarrassed. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to haul my body up onto the wall, and so I didn’t even try.

Here’s a picture of me taken just a few weeks ago.


Wherever you are in your fitness journey, may you find courage. May you find growth.

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One Comment

  1. You go girl! Keep that positive mind-set. As Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true”.

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Loralie Thomas