On the whole, Noughties fashion was quite tasteful comparitively - remembering the hideous fashions choices I made in the 80s and 90s...
I am so sorry to read about your soul-crushing experience in your first attempt to participate in a class at a gym.
I am a group fitness instructor, and when I hear about negative experiences such as yours, it breaks my heart because group fitness is for everybody regardless of level or experience. I do my best to make new participants feel welcome and reassured. I make every attempt to chat to newbies before and after the class, offering encouragement and any fitness related advice.
Unfortunately, there does exist in group fitness class culture, amongst participants, an unpleasant element of exclusiveness and snobbery which can understandably make newcomers feel alienated. I try my best to discourage this kind of behavior, as I believe that this type of negative culture is filtered down from the top - instructors and management. If this kind of behaviour and attitude is condoned, then it will just continue to grow. I think that as an instructor, I have a responsibility to encourage a positive and inclusive culture amongst my participants and I wish other fitness professionals would think the same way.
The advice you've cited at the end of your article is right on point, especially attending class/session with a buddy. Can I also suggest shopping around, reading online reviews and even going once to watch and observe before joining..Also, certain class formats will attract certain types of participants - do try to join a MindBody type class - pilates, yoga, Body Balance - these type of classes do attract a more open minded type of participant who seek wellness in their fitness regime as well as physical benefits.
Please don't let your experience stop you in your fitness journey ! And please don't let your experience discourage you from joining a class. I wish you all the best and who knows, maybe I'll see you in my class one day !
Just wanted to thank you for this article, I agree 100% with your thoughts and sentiments in regards to this rather sensitive issue. I have been asked quite a few times myself, and believe me, after putting on a jovial front and laughing it off, I've actually secretly shed tears and gone into a prolonged anxiety attack..
It just so happens that just before my period I bloat, is that a crime? To make matters worse, I am a fitness professional so women are very scrutinising about the way us instructors look..
but vanity aside, let's talk etiquette - i think it is an extremely personal question to ask somebody if you are not close friends.. it is akin to asking somebody about their finances or wage amount, or even sex life...unless you are in a close friendship, those type of questions are off limits, i think.. and a bit of consideration - what if the person asked was actually in a sad set of circumstances where she couldn't bear children but desperately wanted to? that question would hit home hard..
funnily enough, every time I've been asked that question it has been by older women..
thank you anyway, it is good to know that I haven't been alone in being asked this highly inappropriate question..