How to Be Body Positive at the Gym

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Surround Yourself With Support

Women working out
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Sometimes it's easier to feel good about yourself and your body when someone is there to support you. That can mean working out with friends who love you no matter how many burpees you can do, or it can mean hiring a personal trainer. Whatever kind of support system you create around you, make sure your crew has your best interest in mind.

Skip the friends who just want to complain or compare each other's body flaws, and purposefully invite those who are positive and uplifting. It may even mean making new friends at the gym! Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to someone else. Make a connection and keep your mind focused on the exercise instead of your stomach, legs, or butt. Your body will thank you and your new cheerleading squad! 

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Skip the Comparison

Working out at the gym
Getty/Caiaimage/Martin Baurraud

At the gym, it can be tempting to look at other exercisers and compare their journey, their technique, and their physique to your own. And while there are plenty of people who go to the gym to try to one up others, you don't have to follow suit. You don't have to look like or workout like anyone else. If you catch yourself comparing your progress to someone else's, especially someone who may have a more strict workout plan, or who has been on an exercise regimen for years, or whose genetics gave them a starting point more aligned with current societal standards, it may result in you feeling like your progress is not enough. That can lead to pushing yourself too hard, feeling poorly about yourself, and even giving up.

Instead of comparing to others who you may think are doing better than you, ask yourself how you are growing and progressing. Can you lift more weights than yesterday? Did you try a machine you'd never tried before? Have you consistently been making it to a class each week? Celebrate what you are doing, and let your body inform you have what next steps to take.

Gina Rodriguez, star of the hit TV show Jane the Virgin, has this advice: "Getting information about your body and what you need to create the healthiest you is individual and personal," Rodriguez said. "You don’t need to buy into any lifestyle besides your own and what best fits your body."

This goes for your workout routine and your weight, size, and shape, too. Your body and how it looks and feels are uniquely yours. And keep in mind, just because someone else hits the gym five days a week, doesn't mean you need to. And vice versa. Every workout and body journey is different, so celebrate yours! 

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Drop the Judgement of Yourself

Woman looking in mirror
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One reason we compare ourselves to others is because we are really judging ourselves. If you enter the gym already feeling like your body is too slow, or too old, or too much, it can magnify when you're surrounded by others. Not even because they did or said anything to discourage you, but because being around them can reinforce a story that you're telling yourself about your body. 

Instead of believing the story and judging your body, as too much or not enough of anything, try forgiving yourself for the judgement. That way you can start fresh with the truth about yourself. You can even write down mantras, or truths to repeat to yourself before, during, and after your workout. A few to try: 

  • I am doing my best
  • I get stronger with every workout
  • I am on my way 
  • My hard work is paying off
  • I am worth it 
  • My body is beautiful, and perfectly imperfect 
  • I am powerful 
  • I am more than my weight, dress size, or any numbers

Try writing out a few and repeating them to yourself on a regular basis. They can help you maintain a positive body image in or out of the gym!

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Wear Supportive Undergarments

Panache Sports Bra

Exercising at the gym typically includes a lot of bouncing, running, and other movements. So it's important to wear undergarments that feel supportive and comfortable. That may mean upgrading your sports bra! If a trendy brand doesn't fit your bust, skip it. Instead, invest in a bra fitting session, and a bra sized sports bra with superior support and an adjustable band and straps, like this sports bra from Panache. It's underwire design supports up to a J cup! This will ensure a really great fit, which means less bounce and way more comfort. It can increase your confidence and body love when you wear a bra that fits well, and when you can Zumba or run without your bust bouncing. 

And don't forget underwear! Find a pair of underwear that feels good. Because working out and stretching is less fun when your body is screaming at the wedgie you're rocking, or the panty lines in your leggings. And, a simple upgrade to your undies can shift your whole perspective! If you're changing in the lockeroom, you can strut your stuff with confidence knowing you are wearing something you love underneath that workout gear. 

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Wear Athletic Gear You Love

Adore Me workout wear
Adore Me

Even if the gym isn't a fashion show, that doesn't mean you can't treat it like your own runway! Treating your body well isn't just about the exercises. You can use clothing to stay body positive at the gym, too. Ditch the old sweatpants and worn out tee shirt. Invest in some workout wear that you look forward to wearing. Make sure to choose styles that fit your shape best, not just what everyone else is wearing. That may mean showing more or less skin, or wearing something tighter or looser than your workout neighbor. In the end, the goal is to make sure you and your body feel good so you can step into the gym with confidence and a little sass. 

Try some stylish leggings and a colorful top with on-trend design, and a flowing, cool long sleeve layer from Adore Me. You can stock up on a few styles to mix and match so you can always have a great outfit (and a great workout) to look forward to.

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Do Something You Enjoy

Woman swimming
Getty/Blend Images - Dave & Les Jacobs

One way to love your body is to use it to do something you enjoy doing! Adore Me Designer, Kaitlin Wilbur says: "My body positive gym advice is to find something you enjoy doing so the workout doesn't feel like work. There are lots of options from classes to equipment. If working out feels terrible, try something new!"

If a traditional gym routine has you groaning, chances are you won't appreciate your body and what it can do. Instead, choose an activity, machine, or workout method that excites you. Use your body to move in a way that will make you look forward to working out. When you enjoy what you're doing, you can stay more focused on the positive, including your body. "Also, after you get into the groove, reward yourself with some fun leggings, but never skimp on the right sneakers or sports bra", adds Wilbur.

Send your body a mental thank you note for working hard, stretching, and growing stronger. Then treat it to something fun to wear!

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Remember Where and Why You Started

Woman doing tree pose

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

Another way to stay positive: ask yourself why you started exercising in the first place. Do you want to be healthier? Do you want more energy? Are you looking to keep up with your kids? Whatever the reason, keep it in mind at the gym when you're feeling less than happy with your body, tired, or uninspired. You can do it!