How to Stop the Fitness Comparison Game

Constantly comparing yourself to others at the gym? Here's how to stop.

Kick it by Eliza

Shirazi in action/photo by Lindsay Hite Photography

It’s 6:30 a.m., and you show up to your group fitness class, ready to rock. The door closes behind you, and you’re immediately sucked into a world of dark lighting, loud music, and other people—lots of other people. You find your space, scan the room, and start thinking one (or all) of these things:

  • “Ugh, that girl has such a flat stomach.”
  • “Are there mirrors in here? Crap.”
  • “I definitely look like a wreck next to this queen. Good thing I’m standing in the back.”

Sound familiar? I’ve been there, you’ve been there, we’ve all been there. But since when are group fitness classes about judging everyone around you and body shaming?

Things took a turn in all of my Kick It classes when I discovered that this was a real problem. I realized that making people connect with each other and talk to each other helps the comparison game fizzle. No matter which class you’re taking, these three tips will help you overcome your urge to compare:

1. Write it: Write down three goals for the group fitness class you signed up for—and instead of telling yourself not to do something, tell yourself to do something. For example, your goal could be, “I am going to say hi to the girl next to me instead of comparing myself to her.” Write it on your hand, in a notebook, or even on a sticky note. Right before you take the class, read it.

2. Try it: Try implementing the three goals in class. If you wrote, “I am going to let other people’s athleticism motivate me, rather than frustrate me,” put that into action. See if you can use other people’s energy to push harder.

3. Evaluate it: How did it feel? Could you get through the class without comparing yourself to others? Did you fail? Succeed? Write down a short evaluation next to each goal. Rinse and repeat for a week full of classes.

Above all, enjoy the experience and appreciate that you are able to move your body the way you do. Oh, and don’t forget to celebrate the fact that you showed up for the most important person: yourself.