Who Do You Think You Are?

To Whom It May Concern,

My intent behind this letter is not to gain anything free or really gain anything at all except perhaps a peace of mind.  I have been a faithful member with LA Fitness for over three years now and have had very few, if any complaints.

Last night I attended my regular spin class at 5:30. I absolutely love the usual instructor Malcolm; however, he had a substitute last night named Margaret. The class had approximately 20 people in it. Margaret was unlike any other instructor I’ve had and as soon as I walked in the room I was uncomfortable. She started by asking me specifically if I needed help with my bike, which isn’t a big deal and most instructors do – but they don’t single people out or only ask one person. Regardless, this hadn’t even concerned me initially. I clipped in and through out the class Margaret gave a “beginner, intermediate, and advanced” level of gears for spinning. I rode in the advanced group – as I’ve been spinning for over a year and love it. It was challenging, but every rewarding workout is challenging. I watched Margaret unclip and start walking toward me, where I was riding in the very back row and toward the corner (not an easy spot to get to.) She looked down at my gear (which was on an 18) and appeared shocked. She asked me several times, “Are you ok?” “How are you holding up?” “Have you ever done this before?” As she started to walk away she turned back around and looked at my gear, almost to see if I had dropped down and was only on the 18 because she was there. At this point I fully expected her to go around to other people and check on them – yet she didn’t. She went back to her bike. Approximately 20 minutes later she came back over to me to check on me, asking if I was okay again. She singled me out and did not speak to anyone else for now a second time. Imagine my discomfort level here. People watched her come over to me, wondering if everything was okay. I felt humiliated and incredibly embarrassed while it as happening.

Why was I singled out? The only reason I can come up with is that I don’t look like a cyclist. I am 5’5” and weigh 215lbs and I have lost 110 pounds through diet and exercise. I consider myself an athlete. Last year I started competing in 30+ mile bike rides, sprint triathlons, 5ks and 10ks. I do not place first in my division, but I also do not place last. I fall in about the middle of the pack and while I’m still not a small girl – I do compete in endurance events despite not looking like I could or probably even should. I have discovered a level of pride and self confidence throughout my weight loss journey that I never knew I had.  After my encounter last night, I am beyond thankful have that self confidence because even with it – I’m a little shaken. Had this been one of my first classes or times at the gym I would have without a doubt cancelled my membership with LA Fitness.

I am a Weight Watchers member and two weeks ago the topic was what prevents people from going to the gym and being active. The main reason people gave was that it’s embarrassing. My experience last night was why people don’t go. I shared a story about my first time in spin and seeing the 300 pound weight limit and panicking that I’d break the bike since I wasn’t that much smaller at the time. I shared how ashamed and embarrassed I was of myself. I shared how I cried after my first hour long class because I actually did it. I shared how I am now a regular and love spinning. I shared how while I am the biggest girl in the class I do more than many people in there. Last week I had an older gentleman come up to me after and thank me for sharing. He told me how I was his motivation to go to the gym this week. I am grateful he wasn’t in the spin class that Margaret led last night.

My experience last night made me sad, honestly. Sad for everyone that has more than ten vanity pounds to lose. Sad for the people that spent 10 minutes talking themselves into going to the gym. Sad for every other person in the gym that feels like they don’t belong. I expect ignorance and stupidity through out life, but I guess I just expected a different caliber of the person leading the class.

I finished the class with my head held high last night, but I’m fully aware that I am probably the exception considering embarrassment is the main reason people don’t go to the gym. Again, I’m not expecting anything from this, but wanted to share my disappointment.



12 thoughts on “Who Do You Think You Are?

  1. As a cycle instructor and a former student I totally understand where you are coming from and sorry about your treatment. There are some really interesting instructors out there with basically big egos that just kind of do their own thing in their classes and do not consider what it’s like to be on the other side. I hope your next experience is a better one! At least she was a sub and not the permanent teacher.

  2. Thankfully, I’ve been spinning for over a year and I’m comfortable on the bike. I’ve had a myriad of teachers – some I like more than others, but never one that I’ve felt uncomfortable around. Like I said, I’m glad I have tough skin and I’m confident/experienced enough to know better. All I could think of was the people in my Weight Watchers meetings that don’t go to the gym because they’re afraid of experiences like that one.

  3. Pingback: February Chat - Page 12 - 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet Weight Loss Community Weight Watchers

  4. It wasn’t so much that it hurt me. I’ve got super thick skin, but it would have hurt who I used to be. I’d hate for someone else to experience that and be turned off to working out.

  5. Pingback: Tri2 W5D1 part B | Kristi Nike

  6. I am new to spinning and least confident about the bike portion. I don’t like going to gym classes and being judged by my size at all. I am very flexible, did aerobics when i was young and usually find that to be too easy, and just because i’m big doesn’t mean that i’m a couch potato. Hopefully i can someday get down to 216 and be one of the advanced spinners in the class but right now it feels daunting. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I was so overwhelmed when I first started spin. I felt like the elephant in the room – pardon the pun. Now I show up in all of my gear (cleats, shorts, etc.) and ride hard. I’m also super flexible (years of dance and gymnastics) and always get looks when I throw my leg up on the handle bars to stretch instead of the seat. Hell, I can still do my splits. LOL! Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  8. Pingback: October Chat - 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet Weight Loss Community Weight Watchers

  9. Pingback: Fear | Damn girl, that's a lot of fattitude

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s