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Poll: One Exercise You'd Never Do in Public?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/14/2013 12:00 PM   :  320 comments   :  15,941 Views

Do you have any exercises you really don't like to do when other people might see you?

I do.

In fact, at one time or another in my weight loss project, I've had a lot of them. When I was at my highest weight, it was swimming, or anything else that involved not wearing a shirt. Don't ask me why--it's not as though you couldn't tell how big I was when I was wearing a shirt.

When I took up stationary biking, I was always very careful, at first, to avoid the recumbent models and stick to the uprights. After catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror on a recumbent bike, I thought my body had the same basic shape as a Hershey's Kiss.

Even after I got down to my lowest weight, I hated to use an elliptical machine without wearing sweat pants. Whenever I built up to a good speed while wearing shorts, the loose skin on my legs started flapping so loud you could hear it on the other side of the gym.

I guess you could say that I had a pretty big problem with negative body-image, to put it mildly.

But things have gotten quite a bit better for me in this department, thankfully. These days, I rarely worry about how other people might see me enough to let that restrict my activity (otherwise, you'd never catch me riding my bike in compression shorts).

And it's not just because I've lost a lot of weight. It's because I made myself do the things that made me feel uncomfortably self-conscious, until it was no longer a problem. I think that's much more powerful than simply trying to talk yourself into accepting your body.

There's still one more challenge left on my list of activities I avoid, though. It's hula-hooping. For whatever reason, I just cannot get myself comfortable with the thought of hula-hooping in public. Even just doing it with my granddaughter when we're playing makes me uncomfortable.

So, I guess that's my next project. I'm going to learn how to hula hoop, and do it in public.

How about you? Do you have any activities you'd like to be able to do that make you uncomfortable to the point you avoid them?

Are you willing to try the "feel the shame and do it any way" approach, to see if that works for you?


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Comments

  • MTHORN01
    270
    Anything that involves some kind of dancing - 6/14/2013   7:22:07 PM
  • 269
    I feel weird about lifting weights - mainly because I know I've got the correct form, but they're not the "heavy" weights. I'm a girl. I'm just getting started with the whole fitness lifestyle. But it's daunting to stand there doing bicep curls with a 5 or 10-pound weight and have a bunch of big, bulky men stand around grunting and huffing and dropping (big no-no, by the way!) all these humongous weights and you KNOW they are periodically staring at you - either checking you out positively ("Hey, she's cute"), or judging you negatively ("Silly girl...don't you know weight lifting is for big, strong men like me?!")

    But I like your point - to do it anyway BECAUSE it's uncomfortable. After a while, it won't be... I'm gonna have to think on that. ;) - 6/14/2013   6:51:28 PM
  • THERESA21T
    268
    I have a problem with doing Zumba and Body Pump in public. I have two left feet and I'm very slow at learning new things. At least at home I can hit rewind and do it five times before I move on. - 6/14/2013   6:26:37 PM
  • 267
    Running is not my favorite - 6/14/2013   6:02:34 PM
  • 266
    I agree with swimming in public - 6/14/2013   5:39:56 PM
  • 265
    i lucked out on swimming - ive been a swimmer all my life, even at my heaviest, and for whatever reason being in a swimsuit around other people has just never phased me; im used to it, i guess. i know i look terrible, but i cant bring myself to care. plus swimming is the one athletic activity that i EXCEL at. so i know people probably judge me in my suit, but as soon as i get in the water i know i can swim circles around a lot of people.

    when i first started running, i was very self-conscious, but that has faded as ive learned how to run properly, and no longer feel like im dying after thirty seconds. the absolute worst is any sort of follow-along exercise, like a video - i put my all into it, but there are a lot of the moves i just cant get right. i flop around and wheeze in the privacy of my own home, but id never do it in public. at least not until i get into better shape. thats kind of the beauty of not bothering with a gym, though - at home, only my cat judges me. and she licks her own butt, so im not all too worried about her opinion. - 6/14/2013   5:39:32 PM
  • 264
    I love swimming but I hate going because I hate the way I look in a swimsuit. I have hated being in a swimsuit since about when puberty hit and I gained weight and got curvy. Then for a short time when I was in my late teens early twenties, I didn't mind being in swimsuit in from of others. I had lost some weight and I thought I looked okay. But alas now again I really don't like they way a swimsuit shows my gut. I try to get them a little loser, but then they are way too big after they get stretched out being in the water. My body image is definitely something I need to work on. - 6/14/2013   5:36:08 PM
  • 263
    I have a really hard time swimming in public. But I remember being really sad because my mom would never swim with me when I was a girl, and I don't want my daughter (who LOVES to swim) to miss out. So I do it for her and try not to feel self-conscious. - 6/14/2013   4:56:28 PM
  • NBDERE
    262
    I work out at the school where I work. I KNOW kids are watching, because it is basically funny to see the old lady teacher (especially the uncoordinated old lady teacher); I know they are judging (because that's part of being an adolescent), but I don't let it stop me...much. - 6/14/2013   4:51:37 PM
  • 261
    Any exercise where I have to stick my butt in the air! - 6/14/2013   4:43:23 PM
  • 260
    I used to feel like that about running because I always felt like I looked sooooo goofy when I was running. Now I can't really think of anything exercise-wise that I wouldn't do in front of people. There are a few things (like certain kinds of dancing) where I feel a little silly, but it won't stop me :) - 6/14/2013   4:41:05 PM
  • 259
    I refuse to do Zumba in public! I have a Zumba game for the Wii so I practice in the comfort of my own living room, by myself. If one of my parents walks into the room in the middle of my routine, all I keep thinking is "Go away, go away, don't look at me!" I'd like to try a Zumba class one day but I'm held back by my own conception of my dancing as being "awkward" and "clumsy." - 6/14/2013   4:37:43 PM
  • 258
    I didn't love putting on a swimming suit and getting back in the pool when I weighed 300 pounds, but I did it anyhow. Honestly, I think that embarrassment is just an excuse...get over it and get moving!

    Maybe that is easier to say for those of us who are coordinated and know how to dance! I think I weighed about 260 when I started doing Zumba, and it never occurred to me that I shouldn’t do it because of my size. - 6/14/2013   4:24:17 PM
  • 257
    I'm a little hesitant to belly dance in public (especially if I am only practicing and not focusing on performing) but I still do it in my back yard where I'm sure the neighbors can see me - I just don't see them, so it doesn't bother me.

    Otherwise... I don't really give a damn. - 6/14/2013   4:23:34 PM
  • 256
    I'm probably one of the few that really should be more self conscious at the gym, particularly Zumba- I'm definitely the sweatiest, I'm the most overweight at least 90% of the time (I've seen 2-3 'bigger ladies' in the three months I've been doing it) I'm also not the most co-ordinated and sometimes I probably breath very heavy.

    Plus side- I don't think others stare at me (but I do get extra room to dance usually, bonus!), I almost feel that the instructor is even more encouraging (or I'm imaging it but it motivates me so meh) AND I'm starting to get comments about people wishing they could keep up with me. If you feel they're watching, you may as well put on a show ;) - 6/14/2013   3:53:33 PM
  • 255
    Hula Hooping and Running. - 6/14/2013   3:15:37 PM
  • 254
    I avoid any exercise class that has a mirror. And, I typically avoid running during daylight b/c I don't want other people to see how slow & overweight I feel. I am getting better at this though. I recently trained for and participated in a race all of which was during daylight hours. - 6/14/2013   3:11:43 PM
  • PEGGIE57
    253
    I've never worried about what I look like exercising in public. I figure if they don't like it they don't have to look! - 6/14/2013   3:09:58 PM
  • STANDFIRMAJ
    252
    I think I have to say I'm not real big on the group classes. It will be a challenge for me to overcome. - 6/14/2013   2:30:20 PM
  • 251
    Mine isn't so much an exercise as the fact that my STAMINA doesn't last. There is no way I could do more than 5 minutes of exercise before stopping to rest. Therefore I exercise to videos (parts of) at home or go for a short walk, but if it's gonna be without being fully clothed, I'm doin' it at home. - 6/14/2013   2:25:21 PM
  • 250
    I can do group classes, but the one thing I'm too scared to try is Zumba! When it comes to coordinated dancing, I have zero memory for it and tend to bump into people, which they do not appreciate. So, I just stay out of those classes as a favor others. ;-) - 6/14/2013   2:24:26 PM
  • 249
    Group Classes I'm terrified!
    PRETTY MUCH any strengh traning
    also squats - 6/14/2013   2:20:28 PM
  • 248
    I think most people have a little too much "spotlight syndrome" - they think the spotlight is always on them, people are always watching what they do, what they're eating, how they're exercising, etc. It's the feeling when you trip over something of "OMG, did everyone just see that?!"

    Now occasionally, people will notice something major (like if you trip and completely bust your butt on the sidewalk in a crowded area). But for the most part, I think you are noticed far less often than you think. When it comes down to it, most people are too self-consumed worrying about who's watching them to actively watch others!

    Also, we all tend to be more critical of ourselves than someone else, and we tend to remember our own mistakes, flubs and silly moments far longer than anyone else would. So even if someone did notice you doing a particular exercise, it's HIGHLY unlikely that they would be critical (unless they're just bitchy like that) and even more unlikely that they will remember you in 5 minutes.

    I try to keep these things in mind and not be self-conscious about doing anything in public. Not saying I'm always successful! Just saying that I think most people need to relax and do what they want and not worry about those around them. They probably don't notice you anyway... - 6/14/2013   2:17:05 PM
  • FISCHY19702
    247
    Yoga... and it isn't because of how I look but because of what bodily functions may slip out when I'm upside down or butt in the air on some awkward pose lol. - 6/14/2013   1:54:30 PM
  • 246
    I think squats--my backside is too large. - 6/14/2013   1:51:52 PM
  • 245
    I pretty much refuse to take a group aerobic class such as Zumba. - 6/14/2013   1:47:14 PM
  • 244
    Strength exercises are a no go in public. Unless there via a weight machine. I have a hard enough time trying to make sure I have proper form and balance, I don't need to worry about what everyone else thinks about me on top of that. I use to not dance but sometimes find myself dancing down the street now. :) - 6/14/2013   12:40:19 PM
  • 243
    I don't dance in public. I have zero ability to dance. LOL

    And I laughed right out loud at some of this article. - 6/14/2013   12:31:26 PM
  • 242
    pullups, my husband always tries to tickle me when I'm hanging on the bar. - 6/14/2013   12:30:51 PM
  • 241
    My trick for Hula Hooping in public : Just remind yourself that most of the people aren't able to do waht you can do with a hoop. When they watch they are impressed! - 4/10/2013   12:18:28 PM
  • 240
    for me right now it would be yoga - 7/26/2012   10:26:04 AM
  • 239
    Oh, I got this... My doctor prescribed Kegel's with a weight to prevent incontinence. That would be ILLEGAL to do in public!
    (I can't believe I'm even posting this publicly!) - 7/26/2012   9:52:40 AM
  • 238
    Hula-hooping? If I could get that hoop to stay up for more than half a rotation I'd be doing it all over the place!

    I'm self-conscious about doing tai chi or kata outside of a class or group. - 7/26/2012   8:04:52 AM
  • CIRANDELLA
    237
    I shall never engage in windbreaking in public...not if I can help it! - 1/25/2012   9:20:39 PM
  • BEAKIEBEAN
    236
    Lol-anything that requires coordination like dancing. I can do arm movements or I can do leg movements-but if you start wanting them to do two independent motions at the same time-oh man-I start looking like a spastic chicken. I think Zumba looks like fun but I'm afraid to be the remedial kid in the class! - 1/25/2012   10:04:33 AM
  • 235
    When I started working out with a trainer, in the full gym that was in our building, I wore long flowy tops over everything (like Bea Arthur in Maude and Golden Girls.) I am now in size 2 - 4, very shapely (again, thank God!) but I STILL won't let anyone see my upper arms. They are quite muscular, but There is some loose looking skin - I don't know WHAT to do about that and I think it looks kind of old. I didn't need to lose loads of weight - just under 40 pounds, but I would do anything to get that toned look I am working for. I can see all my ribs, pelvic bones have reappeared, but my upper arms and legs above the knees look "wrong." I am SO SO SO self conscious, even though even I love how I look in clothes, even spandex. I do thank God for taking me as far as I've come - after all, we wear clothes most of the time. I am still working toward being able to wear a strapless or sleeveless formal again someday. I would never be comfortable in a class setting, but I love working one on one with a trainer. - 1/21/2012   6:27:02 PM
  • ASINGH527
    234
    I don't use the weights and strength training machines in the gym. I would rather be in a group exercise class than to be out in the masses with all the very athletic looking people while I struggle with my light weights. - 8/11/2011   4:20:40 PM
  • 233
    I used to feel self concious about Zumba. I really don't like dancing in front of other people. Then, I realized that me shakin' it in front of other people is fine because the more I shake it the further I will be to never looking like that when I shake it ever again! - 5/23/2011   5:41:39 AM
  • STACIBUK
    232
    I don't like group exercises. I prefer working out on my own. Also I only swim with a shirt & leggings on top of my swimming costume. Lol! - 5/22/2011   5:43:39 PM
  • 231
    I don't do gyms. C'mon they are terrible for the self image. I also consider the a huge germ carrier. And because of my age and child birth I won't do jumping jacks- period! I am comfortable doing just about anything else and willing to try anything once, even in the presence of other people, if I can, and I am wearing the appropriate attire- except short shorts. - 5/21/2011   9:05:19 PM
  • 230
    Running in public would be a bit of an uncomfortable exercise for me, as I am super slow. I exercise at home because gyms are too expensive, otherwise I would be at a gym on a treadmill and doing Zumba classes :-) - 5/3/2011   9:19:33 PM
  • 229
    I'v been hooping since September 2010 and have noticed a huge increase in my aerobic fitness and muscle tone with added mental health benefits such as reduction of stress/anxiety levels and a boost in self confidence.
    I think getting an adult size hoop (not the kids one, a hoop should reach at least your belly button when resting on the ground)
    It's not the little girls in the playground activity it was and is loads and loads of fun! - 4/10/2011   9:53:01 AM
  • SWEDISHWHISKY
    228
    At the moment I really don't like to exercise in public. I started running two weeks ago and on the first day I avoided anyone seeing me run. Since I plan to run a 5-K in june I kind of have to get used to being watched. I try to stop thinking too much and just keep on running. And it really feels great to conquer my fears. - 3/20/2011   4:25:28 PM
  • 227
    I guess I am more like you when you first started at this point. I prefer to exercise at home out of eyesight (including my family's) right now. I am soooo self conscious about the way I look compared to those around me. I do walk the treadmill but even then worry that my legs are jiggling to much. I am making baby steps by making myself do any exercise in public. I don't use the machines as I don't think I really know what I am doing on those to get the proper work I need and don't want to look like a fool trying. I have an appointment next week to work with the personal trainer to go through the machines and find out what each one does specifically and what would be best for me. As I stated baby steps! Thanks for sharing your story! - 3/15/2011   1:55:01 AM
  • SOPHIEDOT
    226
    I'm ok with exercise in public, but NEVER in short shorts!! I feel so uncomfortable, and I'm always yanking them down. And sadly, even skinny people shouldn't wear them alot of the time, so I probably shouldn't either.. I am hoping after a couple more months at the gym to feel comfortable enough to wear spandex! They look super comfy and seem to stay in place pretty well! - 3/14/2011   12:37:11 AM
  • 225
    I call them hip lifts and bridge-ups. The casual observer would call it air-humping. Either way, they're good for my lower back so I do them almost every day, but I do them at home. - 3/11/2011   5:26:20 PM
  • 224
    You know for the longest time I've been an avid walker, just now I finally worked up the stamina and courage to take on jogging intervals and out on my road! This is unheard of since though I know my neighbors have seen me out walking regardless of temperature and know about the great distance I walk I feel self conscious about the act of jogging. I joined the 5k Your Way challenge and opted to push myself out of the comfort zone & into the walk/jog training. I also invested in a great jogging/running bra to help with that major self conscious issue. So far I am into the tail end of week 2 and still going strong. Once this is surpassed I think I will take on those walking poles. Its good to shake up people concepts on health and who knows I may inspire someone to go ahead and take a fitness risk & JUST DO IT! Plus, if anything it may make someone smile or laugh to see me out there with those poles- might come in handy with snakes and dogs, right. - 3/11/2011   1:40:05 PM
  • 223
    Walking around the neighborhood with those strange ski pole things! - 3/11/2011   1:12:29 PM
  • 222
    Grouse Mountain is a tourist place near where I live. The tourists take a cable car to the top for breath taking views of Vancouver. Fit locals climb the mountain on a trail that goes underneath. To me, it is like climbing stairs for 2 hours straight, but with flies landing on me. The humiliating part? People passing will stop & say are you okay? Not just once, multiple people ask. Last time I went, an article appeared in the news paper about 10 days later, about people who shouldn't be doing the Grind because they aren't fit enough for it. I highly suspect it was inspired by me. Still, the Grouse Grind is on my list of goals to complete, when it opens in the spring. - 3/6/2011   12:53:23 PM
  • 221
    I don't lift free weights in public. There is always a group of muscular dudes checking themselves out in that area and I don't want to look like a wimp incorrectly lifting my 5 pound weight!
    - 3/1/2011   12:42:56 PM

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