Gym-shaming: the new year fitness trend which really needs to stop

It’s that time of year again: out are the turkey dinners and cakes with cream, in are trainers, leggings and resolutions. But with all these fantastic renewed efforts to get fit and healthy, so comes the one thing I despise most about social media – gym shaming.

There’s something bizarrely territorial about gyms: people get so possessive about classes, machines, even times and days – to the point where it can be quite intimidating, almost threatening to walk in alone as a newbie.

I’m fairly new to the whole gym thing. I started going to my local leisure centre mid-last year, taking up spin classes, pilates and yoga and I have to say that everyone I have met there has been absolutely bloomin’ fantastic. Sure, it’s not state of the art equipment, but the trainers are superb, the people friendly, and at the end of the day it gets the job done.

But one thing has really started to irk me post-Christmas. It’s not something I have had personally directed at me, it’s just a general tone, a murmuration that is downright rude. For reasons unbeknownst to me, it seems to be completely socially acceptable to call out anyone who wants to get fit in the new year, gym-shaming them into giving up.

All I seem to be seeing on Facebook and Twitter at the moment are comments about classes being rammed, with seasoned gym-goers waiting for newer members to just give up in a few weeks. I personally know how hard it is to work up the motivation to get fit, and walking into that gym for the first time when you are nervous, possibly embarrassed, to be confronted by these negative attitudes is just appalling.

What is wrong with using the new year as a fresh start to get fit? Why shouldn’t people sign up after the calories of Christmas to lose a few pounds? Can someone tell me who decided that if you go to the gym you have to make it your life? Will it actually kill anyone if they only go to the gym for a few weeks or months at a time?!

The fact of the matter is this: there is NOTHING wrong with going to the gym, at any point in your life (unless you’re acting against medical advice…). There is also nothing wrong with giving up on the gym either – if it’s not for you, it’s not for you. So long as you can tell yourself that you have honestly given it your all then that is all that matters.

So how about this: why don’t we all just embrace the change? I know it’s a pain when you can’t book your usual spin class, but remind yourself that you were in that position once, starting out on a new health kick. Don’t hope and pray that people will drop out because really it can only be for your benefit that there are more people wanting to sign up to classes. You can learn a lot from training with people who have different abilities.

At the end of the day fitness is fitness – who are we to judge?

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