Written by YMCA Gym Instructor Kay Vasey

As Personal trainer, I obviously have my own opinions about what kind of workouts is best for different people. But where should I draw the line when it comes to sharing my opinion? And how easy is it to become a fitness bully?

On any social media today, there are endless posts mocking sport and exercise of all shapes and sizes from simple athletics to classes such as Zumba & Crossfit. We’re bombarded on Instagram with pictures and ‘inspirational’ quotes talking about “beast mode” and “Unless you faint, you’re haven’t worked hard enough!” However, this simple isn’t true.

We have all seen those photos and videos posted to Facebook of other gym goers making videos of people mocking how they use a machine or carry out an exercise differently. Their primary purpose is to make a few people laugh however these posts have the potential to embarrass the individual and discourage them from attending a gym in the future.  It’s unkind and it’s a violation. I’ll admit – When I began by journey of losing 7 stone, I felt intimidated!

We’ve all seen ‘Chest-man’ at the gym right? You know the guy who only ever comes in and does bench….Who are we to judge him? His reason to be at the gym might not be to lift the biggest weights but because it is his only stress-free hour in the day.

Oh and those really annoying ladies who stand around chatting? Take the time to appreciate that it might be the only time they see their friends outside of work and family duties.

We should respect every circumstance as part of overall health and wellness and the ability to switch off and get some balance in our lives.

Personally I don’t care about ‘getting shredded’; I don’t care about how strong I am compared to other people.  I like to Olympic lift, Dance and do Yoga. I like to work out so I ache the next day.  I like to lose myself in the music for an hour when I dance; it helps me shut off to the rest of the world.  I have nothing to prove to anyone. I just enjoy it and I have made some very good friends over the years too.

It’s easy to spot things in the gym that can amuse or worry us. An individual might not know what they’re doing; they may be new to the gym or trying a different piece of equipment. Instead of using our eyes to judge, why don’t we use our mouths to offer help to people in these situations?

In summary, we all lead stress-filled lives, but let’s not let the gym become another stress trigger. Let’s enjoy the journey of fitness together, whatever that may look like for you!

We have a great team of instructors here at YMCA with a range of skills to help give you all the advice you need for a safe and effective workout.  We offer one-to-one training free as part of your membership and can work with you on your goals, whatever they may be. If we feel like you’re doing something dangerous, it’s our job to speak with you to help you. We will never tolerate fitness bullies or making them feel inferior. We are all in this together to support and cheer for each other on this rewarding path to fitness!

As the New Year approaches and the YMCA Gym launches, new January starters will come flooding in. Remember, all it takes is a smile and a hello to make or break their experience. You were once a beginner, everybody has to start somewhere.