How do I overcome the embarrassment of exercising in public?

Hi everyone :),

I am about to start on the the 12 week NHS weight-loss plan alongside the 12 week NHS fitness plan. I am looking forward to the challenge but the one thing I am struggling with is the prospect of exercising in public. In particular the strength and flex exercises. I am a very self-conscience person already due to my weight, and don't want to look like a numpty. I would love to hear off people to see how they over-came this issue.


15 Replies

  • I went to a park about 15 minutes drive from home and basically thought I don't know anyone around here and they don't know me so it does not matter what they think. It was alot easier after a young lad had walked past me wearing a wizards hat, at least I did not look that silly!

  • It is very understandable for you to feel embarrassed about being seen exercising in public. It is a perennial cause for concern, however all of those people who expressed this anxiety at the outset have all come to realise that in fact others are not looking at them and really do not care about what they are doing!

    I started off doing doing S&F in my local park, just using trees and benches for the various moves. There was only one time when an elderly man watched me intently for a long time but he was a very long way away from me so I didn't care. One other occasion I was holding on to the post for the park map doing some stretches when an elderly lady asked me if I felt alright. It was kind of her to stop and ask.

    I would say go out very early, before the school run, and just try to ignore any onlookers. You are doing wonderful things for yourself and you'll be so glad you started exercising. The only alternative would be to go out in the dark but you would probably feel chilly!

    Just take the bull by the horns and you will quickly stop feeling self conscious.

    WELL DONE for taking the initiative in improving your well being! you will soon relax into it when you start to feel all the benefits!

    Good luck! :) :) :)

  • I did strengh and flex around the house. When I started running I would go out early in the morning when no one would see me - now I don't care. Most people aren't really bothered by what you are doing

  • How did you get on doing the exercises in the house? Listening to the first podcast she asks you to do a lot of walking. How much space did you find you needed?

  • I just walked on the spot and up and down the living room

  • Ask yourself when you last noticed someone exercising in public, and I bet you can't remember...I never noticed runners until I started running myself, I expect most people are the same. Even if they think you're bonkers, you won't know that will you?!!!

  • When I first started to run I was very self conscious about people looking at me and 'laughing' at me.

    So I would run late at night or at places that nobody goes.

    But I realised then when I started to run 'on the street' that no-body did! There was the odd 12/13 year old boy shouting things to show off to his friend! But I just ignored them and carried on!

    I think it helped I had my Boyfriend there for support and he was encouraging and seemed happy with my progress and so was I.

    Good Luck.

  • I was worried about this too when I first started out, I tried to cover up in baggy clothes and felt really uncomfortable, especially running because I go bright red and sound like I am slowly dying and gasping for air. However the more I got out there, what I actually started to noticed was the thumbs up, the nods from other runners and the smiles from the people I pass. I tell myself that I am an inspiration to the people still on the couch and I stopped caring! I now jog in the tightest pair of leggings I can find (they are so much more comfortable to run in!). I still look and sound awful....I still sometimes get stopped and asked if I am ok.... I am still along way to my ideal weight but I am doing it and I am proud! I think people thought a lot worse of me when I sat on the couch with my sedentary lifestyle!

  • Hi :)

    I'm not following the 12 week fitness thing, but I am doing C25K and S&F simultaneously, which I believe is how the 12 weeks starts. I'm currently on week 9 of C25K and week 4 of S&F so nearly finished both plans (well, I would be if I wasn't on the injury couch - but that's another story!).

    I have done all my runs outside and have not found it embarrassing at all, despite being red, sweaty, and breathless for an awful lot of it! In fact, as others have said, other people's reactions to me have been either positive or neutral. The only times I've felt self conscious were in the early weeks when you do run/walk intervals. This involves suddenly slowing down or suddenly breaking into a jog several times per run. Occasionally these moments happened just as I met another person, or just as their dog came trotting up to me or something - then it can feel a bit weird, but honestly I was mostly concentrating too much on the podcast or the running to really be bothered, and I'm sure the strangers thought nothing of it either :)

    As for S&F, I've done all the workouts in my house for three reasons:

    Firstly, it would be quite a faff to locate an appropriate tree/bench/fence etc at just the right moment in the podcast without spending a fair amount of time wandering or loitering around the park. Practically, I found it a lot easier to identify suitable exercise "equipment" around my house from day 1, and now I don't have to think about it when doing the workouts.

    Secondly, some of the S&F exercises do look weird! :) I wouldn't bat an eyelid if I saw someone running, but I have to admit I would probably look twice at someone pushing a tree, trying to uproot the railings or squatting by the flowerbeds! I know it shouldn't bother me, but in all honesty I'd feel like a right lemon, and I wouldn't enjoy the workouts (and wouldn't be able to concentrate on doing the moves properly either) if I did them in public.

    Thirdly, while running in the dark is fine (some people love pre-dawn or late-night runs) and running in the rain is fine (again some people prefer it) tree-pushing/fence-pulling/park bench squatting would be a miserable experience on a grim October evening. This is particularly relevant if you're planning on starting it now/soon as the nights are drawing in and the weather will be getting less pleasant.

    In general, these types of workouts (weights, yoga, fitness videos, etc) are really suited to indoors anyway so it really wouldn't occur to me to do it outside. I love the great outdoors for running and would always choose this over a treadmill (although this would be a perfectly suitable alternative), but it definitely feels much more appealing to do S&F in my house :)

    By the way, the walking is just to warm you up. Any kind of light aerobic activity would do the job (up and down the stairs, walk round a room, even a bit of dancing or cleaning (!) It's just to ensure you're not exerting cold muscles.

    Best of luck with it all! :)

  • I haven't tried the strength and flex yet but I'm doing the couch to 5k and I'm a week in. I found a really nice pathway to run on and found that actually I'm not as self concious when I'm out there. I mean I'm working hard to get fit and I feel quite proud of it! I say feel proud of yourself for being sweaty and working hard, I bet no one is paying attention anyway but if they are they probably just feel a bit bad that they aren't exercising themselves. :)

  • I started off just walking into town and back, then (having got a dog) walked her twice a day. When I started running (through the C25K program) I did most of my first runs either very ealry morning or late evenings to avoid others!

    I did start to bump into other people, funnily enough many of them doing the same sort of thing!

    But it's really important to remember, you're doing this for you. Try not to worry what others might think (although you'll probably find many thinkg "well done you"). Keep at it, it will be worth it!

  • Hi, this is the thing that stops me from jogging, (even for the bus) maybe start at brisk walking? It never worked for me, and I think that's because I always walk fast, I walked almost 50 miles in 1 week, and I didn't lose anything, maybe try and find a quiet area, or car park, where it's not so busy, and as your confidence grows, the streets can come after

    Zoe xx

  • Always remember that you're lapping everyone that is sitting on the couch. Hold your head high and be proud of your efforts.

  • Everyone advising is there to help, so that you reduce the likelihood of any future health problems. Don't give up, it's for you, not for anyone else. When I had a rude comment from someone-this wasn't on the plan- on my bike, I changed my route, I also used to go running mixed with walking quite early in the morning, down a country lane, better for traffic and nice to have a shower after, builds your energy levels too. But don't overdo it, be kind to yourself :). Your body is a miracle of design and engineering, it merits respect as do you :)

  • That is an interesting question. The great thing about asking it is that you obviously intend to follow the program outside - which is a good start. It won't help, but the simple fact is that nobody is likely to even notice you - unless you go for a tight fitting yellow jump suit. Make sure your clothes are on the generous side - loose fitting, dark plain colours. Bigger the better, almost.

    Right, ignore all that - my mistake. Just been checking the exercises. Running outside - no problem. But the rest - I always used to use my lounge. I just think it's impractical to do the exercises outside, and a real barrier to starting the program. Even when I was training for Ironman Triathlons, I did those kind of exercises indoors because it was more convenient. Stick on a CD, knock them out, have a coffee.

    Running is running. You get into a rhythm, and you keep going. Stopping to do the exercises breaks the pattern, and dare I say, spoils it. I don't much care if that sounds like heresy! Anyway, good luck.

    P.S. We once estimated that some 2-3 million people die of embarrassment every year, which included things like this. That's ghastly.

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