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Feeling out of place at the gym?

(Duluth News Tribune file photo)

"What you think of me is none of my business."

This statement doesn't always speak to me. However there is a setting where adopting it not only benefits our individual mental health but also our collective well-being.

The fear of being judged when one joins a gym, tries a class or a new type of movement can be a significant and a real barrier to moving forward with the desire to improve physical fitness, when one feels he or she doesn't belong.

Yes, for some it may be reading a look incorrectly and letting their insecurities get the best of them. However, people have had disparaging comments made to or around them. Others have been treated disrespectfully by trainers and sales associates at workout facilities.

Surely, people experiencing this are folks outside the narrow definition of what our society deems "OK" and "healthy," right? Interestingly enough, these feelings and experiences are also shared by those who are successfully athletic and fall into the healthful body type.

It is concerning to think we live in a culture where even a healthy person feels insecure and not good enough.

I empathize with the person who thinks, "So if the athletic body isn't good enough, how can I, the person carrying extra pounds or who's inexperienced, even walk into a gym and get started?"

I challenge you to consider thinking, "If nothing is good enough, then I may as well dive right on in and get my move on." And, you guessed it, "What people think of me is none of my business."

How does one create this new mind map?

First of all, there is a good chance others are focused on their own workout and they really aren't noticing you. If they are, perhaps you are tapping on the door of their insecurities. I'm aware this isn't exactly a consolation but a way to frame their potential thoughts and empathize with the vibe you might be getting.

Give yourself a break. Be real with yourself about your deep and personal challenges and your accomplishments. You have acted on the desire to explore and figure out what works to take care of you. You're taking steps that, perhaps, they can't even begin to imagine what it actually took for you to be there. Or, maybe they can but have just forgotten. If it truly does come that easy for them, then be impressed with your demonstration of strength and tenacity. Remember that feeling. It will keep you coming back and making this easier. YOU ARE OUT THERE AND DOING THIS, BABY!

The Möbius strip of not trying something because we are not good enough at it yet, so we never get good enough to try something new, does not serve us. It can be easy to forget that we all need to start somewhere in order to actually start.

Be encouraged that Duluth has great walking spaces to get moving and build confidence. Groups like Zilch to 5K through the Tortoise and Hare shoe store welcome beginners. Places like the YMCA offer personalized orientations to help you know what to do, how to use equipment and get your confidence on. Having options that are clearly open to beginners are important to encourage all of us to get moving or back moving in new ways. (Hint, hint ... We need even more of this!)

What they think of your gettin' movin' is none of your business. Compost the self-comparison, turn it into self-compassion and weed out the worry daily until it becomes your new habit. Do it if only for the health of it.

Judy Breuer

Judy Breuer is a health coach/consultant who advocates for those with food sensitivity and allergies and teaches classes. Connect with her on Facebook or WellnessRen.com.

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