Everyone understands the importance of maintaining one’s health, but working out is not really easy for a lot of people.
Going to the gym to exercise may be particularly daunting. While keeping fit should be applauded, there may be a lot of pressure to have a certain level of fitness or at least have a desired physique when one steps into a gym.
A gym membership ensures that working out regularly becomes part of one’s schedule, but it also opens you up to judgment from some people.
Working out regularly in a gym can be especially intimidating for people on the heavy side. While most people have learned to become more inclusive and embrace body positivity, fatphobia continues.
Gym culture can also be unforgiving, although this should not discourage people with big bodies to enjoy the full benefits of fitness centers.
Steph, a freelance artist from Jacksonville who is on the heavy side herself, didn’t let any of these perceptions stop her from working out regularly at her local gym.
She does feel nervous at times since she has experienced unkind behavior from other clients. But a recent encounter with a hardcore gym customer shows just how powerful positive words can be.
In a now viral TikTok video that Steph made in her car, she explained what transpired when a super tough, hardcore gym goer – who was covered in tattoos – approached her.
She was understandably anxious about what he was about to say to her. Previously, she expressed her sadness about bullies and in fact, two younger guys came up behind her in the gym recently as she was leaving and coughed the word “ogre.”
Losing weight has been quite difficult due to the medications she was taking, but Steph was working out regularly and consistently in an effort to stay healthy.
So, she steeled herself for whatever he had to say, and what he did was totally unexpected, but was definitely much appreciated.
He said, “I’ve seen you in here every week, almost every day. I’ve seen you in here every week—and I’m proud of you.”
These simple words of encouragement from a stranger had such a huge impact. His words left her in tears since she had been working out regularly for two years but was struggling in recent weeks with her progress.
Steph had deep-seated insecurities about her weight. She shared, “There are a lot of thoughts through your head being a bigger woman in the gym because there is, like, all sort of ages in there. Different body types, like super fit, not fit, and it kind of messes with your head, especially me being an over-thinker.”
The words of encouragement thus made such a difference after experiencing body shaming at the gym.
Steph added, “You have no idea how people going through something appreciate kindness. Because he didn’t have to say it. He doesn’t even know what I’m going through. He changed my day. I’m grateful for people like you guys who encourage us.”
People who have seen the video understood Steph’s emotional response. One said, “People do not realize, how one person can change everything.”
Another wrote, “Girl you are CRUSHING IT. That man you encountered is what real men do. Encourage. Support. Be human! It isn’t hard! ❤️”
Steph continued to receive more words of support from people who appreciated the video, which now has more than 15M views!
One shared, “No one knows your story, your struggles. You’re doing the dang thing and that takes courage and strength. You. Keep. Going. I’m proud of you too!”
Another said, “I’m a fitness coach and this made me cry 😢 just having someone say they are proud of you can move mountains for so many of us who didn’t/don’t get the praise growing up.”
This stranger, motivated by kindness, understands the chore of working out regularly and recognizes that the fitness journey might be a challenge for other people. But he saw someone who was consistent and determined.
He didn’t have to say or do anything, but his empathy compelled him to encourage someone who he thought might need a little push.
Steph stressed, “We need to be more encouraging towards people who are trying. That was really nice. I was having a really hard day today, but you know what… it really made my day. Am so thankful for people like him that encourage people like me that are going through something.”
Empathy is really not that difficult, but being on the receiving end of kindness, and spreading that to others, only inspires more people to act with more positivity.
Steph’s interaction with her hardcore, tattooed gym bro is a wonderful example of how compassion and kindheartedness can make someone’s life significantly better.
Watch Steph’s story in the video below:
@stephanies_adventures #gymprogress #workputjourney #keepgoing #healingjourney ♬ original sound – Stephanie