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The Big Girl’s Survival Guide at the Gym
Jan 13

The Big Girl’s Survival Guide at the Gym

*Feature photo credit goes to everygirlguide.comPlease note that product links in this post are from our affiliate partners.

Okay, so this isn’t your normal health post on 5 ways to improve your endurance or 3 keys to staying hydrated… though, I promise we have some awesomeness like that in the works. Today, I decided to write a post about a conversation that I had with a friend, followed by an experience that I had just days later about working out and going to the gym.

I’ve actually been on a weight loss journey for a long time. I have fluctuated up and down on the scale with major numbers since my mid-twenties. I was actually winning the battle of the bulge for a few years, before I got pregnant… and I had to kind of start all over, but this time managing the weight loss with being a new single parent. My son isn’t an infant anymore, but each stage of his life is new to me… so I still feel like a new parent. So I’m still struggling and juggling. One thing that has come up with some of my friends that are starting their weight loss journey, or starting over on their weight loss journey, is the embarrassment and anxiety they feel about being “the big girl” at the gym. I get it… trust me I do. But I definitely have some things I’ve learned on this journey that may be able to ease some of those worries.

Get a trainer.

Personal trainers can be expensive, but the investment is well worth it. Especially if you’re just starting out in the gym or if you’ve gained significant weight since the last time you were active. Unfortunately, not all trainers are equal, so spend some time when choosing one. Try getting referrals from friends, take advantage of complimentary training sessions, and be quick to change or fire a trainer if you don’t believe you’re getting value in your sessions. There’s actually a really great article that was written by my trainer, Brandon Cheeks, on how to select the right trainer. I know its not in everyone’s budget, but if you can find a way even for a short time, learning proper form and correcting anything that you may have going on will be a huge advantage to your weight loss goals.

Grab a friend and hit a class.

I was at this U-Jam fitness class at 24 Hour, which is a dance class that uses world music and unifies it with hip hop dance moves. I had been dying to try this class, because I love to dance. I about died in the class, because I’m so out of shape and 10 minutes in, I had to pull off my jacket and gasp for air. But here’s where the inspiration for this post came from. I realized that I was the biggest girl in the class when I was staring in those floor length mirrors. I actually don’t care about that anymore, because when I look in the mirror, I get excited about the changes I’m going to see as I progress. But I remember thinking, at one point it would have stopped me from ever coming back. Seriously… invite a group of ladies on the same journey, or get a workout buddy, and shake everything together. No one really cared how big I was… just like I didn’t care that half of them couldn’t dance. But I did leave and call some friends to ask them to join me next week.

Get a structured workout plan.

Weights are so important in weight loss, especially when you’re trying to lose substantial weight. The worst thing you could do is lose weight without toning. Droopy skin for days. But don’t go into the gym and freestyle. If you get a trainer, ask for him or her to create a workout plan for you on the days you’re not meeting that works with their training days. If you don’t have a trainer, do some research and find a plan that works for you. I used to walk into the gym with a plan that I got out of the back of an old Jillian Michaels’ book, Winning by Losing. It has a full plan with pictures and circuits. It allowed me to go to the gym, get focused, and get out. I hate being in the gym for more than an hour.

Pick a time of day that works for you.

I would never recommend going to the gym right after work until about 8 p.m. Its overcrowded, and I usually find that that group of people are in the gym to socialize more than workout. That can definitely open you up to the major gym insecurities, with the half naked girls walking around and the men staring at every person walking through the gym. Just my observation, your gym may be different. I think working out in the mornings is best, just like every fitness expert, but not everyone is a morning person. I liked to go to the gym at 5 a.m. or 11:30 p.m. There aren’t a lot of people in the gym in those times usually, so you don’t have to fight for equipment. If you do go at a packed time of day, be prepared to have alternative exercises for the muscle groups you want to work out.

Find a good accountability tool.

I love gadgets, and since I’m a negotiator me and MyFitnessPal app gives me a great way to track my calories consumed and make adjustments based on how much activity I plan on doing. Then I use my Fitbit to track my activity levels, and it keeps me majorly accountable all day long. If you read our “New Year, New Body… Really?!?!” post by Laine Felipe, she added this brilliant line in there “if you bite it, write it.” Game changer. I was grubbing, and didn’t even realize it. This also helps me gauge how hard and how long I need to workout, based on my calorie burn vs consumption at the end of the day.

Wear appropriate clothing.

I don’t care who told you that you could, not everyone can wear sports bras and leggings to the gym… so just don’t do it. Be sure to wear comfortable and appropriate clothing, not only for your body but also for the type of exercise that you’re planning on doing. I recently wrote a post about the different types of workout clothing there is for particular workouts.

Focus on the goal, not the environment.

I think the biggest advice that I have is, remember that you have to start somewhere. I remember a time when the gym was out of the question, because I didn’t even want to look at myself in the full length mirrors. But you have to remember, you’re there to get healthy and to be a better version of yourself. From one person that has been on this journey for a while, I know certain things about my body and you’ll learn things about yours too. I personally won’t be able to see any results until 3 weeks of consistent workouts. The regardless of what the scale says, my body slowly shows the signs of toning before I see big numbers lost. I can make major progress if I keep a 5 to 6 day a week moderately active schedule, which for me probably consists of a couple of classes, a couple of workouts with my trainer, and long walks to hit those 10k steps. And finally, every little bit counts toward the goal you are trying to achieve. If you keep pushing, you won’t always look the way you do today.

Last night, my U-Jam fitness class owned me. But that’s okay. I finished the class, I hit 10K steps and I caught a glimpse of my larger figure in the mirror. But instead of being repulsed or bothered by what I saw, I just imagined how much better and easier it was going to be as I continue to show up, work, and stick with it. Don’t ever be embarrassed about trying to do better.

What type of advice do you have to share with being successful as a “big girl” in the gym?

Until next time,

Courtney Dade


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