Stephanie Holdmeyer, a Missouri State University student, got judged when she first started going to the gym. She and her boyfriend Chris showed up wearing weight belts, prompting a fellow gym member to criticize the "buff couple" for thinking they were "hot shit because they wear their belts all the time." Little did the person know that Holdmeyer needed to wear the belt for health reasons—she'd gotten surgery two months earlier, and used her belt for support while exercising. Now, Holdmeyer is speaking out about her experience being shamed. In a viral Facebook post, Holdmeyer explained that people really need to stop criticizing other people at the gym—both because fitness looks different for everyone, and because you never know what someone else is going through.
"People don't bother to understand where you're coming from or why you do the things you do," Holdmeyer wrote in her post. "That overweight guy? Someone judges him because of his weight, but little do they know he's already lost 100 pounds and has [turned] his entire life around. That guy with the skinny legs? He's had seven knee surgeries, and he's currently trying to strengthen his legs. It's just a long hard process." She used a number of other examples to illustrate her point. The "skinny girl you think 'really needs to eat'" might be trying to gain weight, but struggling due to a high metabolism. The "kid who follows you around and watched everything you do" might just be trying to learn from you and master your workouts. The "girl with really bad form," the "buff dude you think is cocky," the "woman taking too long on the equipment you want," and the "old man doing strange exercises and talking too much" all have their own reasons for being at the gym. And there's really no reason to judge them.
More From SELF
Facebook users have rallied around Holdmeyer's post and its important message. So far, her story has received 84,000 likes, 42,000 shares, and 3,800 comments. People have called Holdmeyer's words "inspirational" and "insightful," and many have gathered in the comments to share about their own fitness journeys. "That guy struggling with the 10 pounders. He just finished his first 6 months of chemo for an incurable stage 4 cancer, and finally let his wife drag him back to the gym," one user wrote. "I'm struggling to go back [to the gym] for the reasons you posted. It was my happy place, but in a new city and after five years of hardship I no longer look like I belong. Thank you for reminding me that we all start somewhere," another offered.
The truth is: Each person is in a different place in their fitness journey, and shaming only holds us back. "There's more to people than what you see," Holdmeyer wrote. "Instead of jumping to conclusions or making judgements, take a moment to consider someone else's perspective." We couldn't have said it better ourselves.