How One Redditor's Viral Story of Helping a Bullied Woman at the Gym Is Inspiring Kindness
"I told her that her somewhere starts today and helped her up."
Now that the holidays are long over, many of us are hitting the treadmill hard in order to get back in shape in time for summer. But if you're overweight and haven't exercised in a while, going to the gym can be just as much of an emotional hurdle as it is a physical one. Surrounded by sculpted, sweaty bodies doing their daily routines can feel intimidating—even humiliating and alienating—especially if you're worried that everyone is looking at you thinking, "What is that that girl doing here?"
That's why it's so important to be kind and supportive if you see someone being bullied, as proven by this Reddit note that's currently going viral. The user reposted the story from a friend's post on Facebook, and it reads as follows:
"Well… it happened. I was at the gym this morning and a group of two women and a man were very obviously laughing at/talking about another woman who was clearly new and nervous about being there. I didn't realize that this was happening at first because I had my headphones in, but then I saw one of the women pull out her phone to take a video.
The woman they were making fun of knew it was happening and was almost in tears… she got off the treadmill and went back towards the locker room. I put my weights back and followed her, told her to wait right there, and reported the group to the manager. When I went back to the locker room, the woman was crying and she quietly told me that she didn't know what she was doing but was trying to learn. She explained that she had recently lost her parent to a weight-related heart attack, and the doctors said that she was headed down the same path if she wasn't careful. I told her that we all start somewhere, and after talking for a bit, I told her that her somewhere starts today and helped her up. I asked her to finish working out with me and that I would help her learn what I know, because I was in her place a year ago. For the remainder of the workout… she had a smile on her face. In the end… three members got permanently banned today, and I made a new friend.
The point of this is simple. I know we all get frustrated when the gym is busier at the beginning of the year, but it's hard to really understand how much of an impact we can have on other people's journeys. I have no doubt in my mind that this woman would not have returned to the gym if her only experience had been being made fun of. Please, PLEASE help others feel welcome… you don't even have to talk to them. Just give them a smile or a nod. We're all there to better ourselves, no matter how quiet or busy the gym gets. Spread the love and positivity, y'all. You could be changing somebody's life."
The note got thousands of upvotes, as well as comments from people wondering how anyone could so cruel as to videotape someone struggling at the gym.
"I have so much respect for people who are bigger making that effort and trying to figure it out," one user commented. "I'm not an [Instagram] fitness model. I have extra weight to lose, but I blend in a bit more. I still feel awkward, and like people are watching me. I struggle a lot. I've had people make me uncomfortable. So if ever I'm watching someone, it's out of respect [like] 'Look at them go!' That's motivation for me later."
Another user chimed in: "I'm a former Division-1 football player (Offensive Lineman). I did nothing but lift weights for roughly 10 years of my life. Half the time, I still feel like an idiot and have no clue what I'm doing when I go to the gym now. It happens to almost every single person who works out."
"This is one of the best stories I've read on here!" another commented. "I don't know either of you, but I love you and I love him. You're both beasts!!"
The story has shed light on an area of our lives we don't often scrutinize for its social pressures: the gym. But it's always a helpful to know that (certain bad actors notwithstanding) most people in the weight room or in the spin class are just as self-conscious as you are, and simply want to go about their business and aren't paying attention to anything you're doing.
It's also worth noting that, according to experts, people who bully are often those who got bullied themselves, and therefore (mistakenly) think that putting other people down will give their egos a much-needed boost. So while the actions of this kind stranger were honorable, he or she could have also taken the approach of this father and asked the bullies what was at the root of their behavior. It's a amazing what a little compassion—and a little confrontation—can do! And for more inspiration to be a kinder person, check out these personal testimonies of times when a stranger's small gesture of kindness made all the difference.
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