REAL CONFIDENCE Episode 3 - Fattest Person in the Gym
If you're smart and work hard, but just aren't where or who you want to be, welcome to your podcast, Real Confidence. I'm your host Alyssa Dver, and I'll be sharing a bit of brain science, some surprising social secrets and a touch of tough love. Why? Because I believe confidence is everyone's fundamental right and choice. So, let's get to it.
I can't wait to get into this conversation, because not only is it going to be totally honest about the way I feel about going to the gym and feeling like I am the fattest person there every day, every time. But I'm excited because I have with me, somebody who I absolutely treasure Caroline Dawson is in the house and we've known each other currently, how many years now? I don't even know. I don't even know seven or eight, maybe at least. Yeah. Yeah, during that time, but I think it has been that long. Gosh, well, needless to say time flies when you're having fun with somebody you love and you are my personal group fitness trainer, but you've been doing group fitness training and just overall in the fitness world for even longer than that. Tell me a little bit about your background.
Yes. So, I've been teaching group fitness classes for almost 30 years, which blows my mind. Cause it feels like, you know, in front of the room, it's always the first time. But I have been in the industry. I have had some personal training along the way. I have been a full-time trainer for a very long time and go back to your guys' instructor.
And when I met you, I was relocating from New York city up to Massachusetts, love Massachusetts, and kind of shifting gears that way. I worked for spinning as a master instructor, traveling around nationally and internationally certifying instructors in spinning. And I really just love, love, love working with people and helping people.
You know, I've been to a lot of different classes over the years. Like when I started group training, I remember doing it in college and that was like before they invented electricity, just say, and so, you know, it's been a long time, I've seen a lot of instructors and you know, this I'm not blowing smoke at anyone. I only go to the gym once a week to see you.
Because you're real and you bring it, and people are listening. They're not seeing us here. You and I can see each other on the camera, and we see each other at the gym, but people don't know that I'm a very, what I would consider a big woman. You are a tall woman, and you teach spinning and stuff. And you're just real.
You're real about yourself. You're real about everyone else. And I think that it's really unique when you have an opportunity to, to be in a situation that is completely confidence challenging. Like going to the gym it really wrecks confidence, mine and everyone else's and you get there, and you have somebody who's real like you.
So first and foremost, thank you. And second of all, talk to me, because I suspect, I know I do it to you, is because you're so real, you hear all the real stuff, real insecurities and otherwise from other people. So. First and foremost, we walk into the gym, as you say, the heaviest piece of equipment is the door.
So, let's just do it. We got through that, right. The muscle men, the women kind of prancing around in their matchy matching outfits. Lots of people who are like in really good shape are there. And here, you know, I walk in, and I feel like a big plump blueberry. How do most people feel? What do they tell you they feel like?
I have a really good friend who was in the school of, “I couldn't possibly go to the gym right now with you, because I'm not fit enough to go to the gym with you,” which just blows my mind because where do you build fitness? Where do you get fit? You get fit by going to the gym. It's like this weird catch 22, but that goes back to confidence, right?
I don't want to go somewhere and put myself out there unless I know what I'm doing, and I can't be embarrassed, and I feel good about what I'm doing and about myself. So, I will say this, that everyone that walks in the gym has a different reason for being there. You know, we all kind of feel the same fear in terms of intimidation with going into any group setting.
But we also seek the same joy with what it can give us in terms of health and fitness and wellness and strength building and confidence boosting and everything else. So. What's interesting, is that so many of the muscle men or the perfectly placed Lulu women, Lululemon women can like rock a matching outfit like it’s no one’s business.
They also have confidence issues, right? They do, they have confidence issues. They have a whole different subset of issues, but we never think that because they're beautiful or they look perfect, or they look like they know what they're doing. So, I would say that it's so interesting how fitness has changed over the last 28 years of teaching.
People used to go in and talk to each other all the time. And now people go in and sticking the earbuds in and being unavailable for conversing, I feel like it is almost a way to feel safe about not feeling confident in a situation, because if you're closed off, you're kind of not opening yourself up to that vulnerability.
So, I think that even the folks that you wouldn't anticipate have confidence issues, it's still simmering there- like all of us.
Thank you for saying that. And I think it's really true. So matchy, matchy outfits, as I said, like the Lulu women. Yeah. You know, I'll walk in, I'll look, I'll be like, wow, look at her.
She's all together. I'm lucky if I, you know, if I have a matching hair tie, that's a good day. Right. You know? Right. So, you know, people come up to you. I watch, I’m such a voyeur, it's embarrassing. But you know, people come up to you before and after class. And they're asking you all kinds of, I can see on your face sometimes that like, sometimes it's a really bizarre kind of question.
Like what, what are the things that they're asking you more often than not?
I think it depends. I I think that people assume that fitness professionals, you know, have medical degrees or like some weird, obscure, you know, injuries. So, a lot of, a lot of things like that, just, you know, saying, what do you think about this?
Every once in a while, someone will say, like, you know, someone in that class, hurt my feelings, because they were in my spot or, you know, something that kind of simmers down to just the need, I think, to be heard in general. So, I think we have things like that. People sometimes are worried about other people in the class like, oh my gosh, there's someone in the back that was really swinging the weight the wrong way, I'm afraid she's gonna hurt herself.
Will you say something to her next time? You know, not even realizing they already have. So, I think that it's such a variety of different things in terms of, of, of them coming up. I don't think there's just one, but there's, there's lots of, there's lots of sharing.
Sometimes there's oversharing, which is always welcome as well. So yeah. Or, you know, something felt weird with that. How, you know, is that, is that normal? A lot of the questions wanting to feel like what they're feeling is normal and other people also feel that which I think goes back to confidence as well.
All right. Talk to me a little bit more about that when they're saying to you what's normal, normal, what? The, how they're working out or what, what's the normal?
Lots of the time physical feelings, you know, here's what I'm feeling in my leg. When I do this, do other people have that? Or I’m having a really hard time balancing, I'm noticing that as I get older, do other people say the same thing?
So just wanting to know that it's not something individual, it's not that they're weak or have an issue. It's just something that kind of happens that they can work through.
So, as you were saying that, yeah, I've asked you all those things and I often, you know, it is that moment of boy, this doesn't feel right, and let me just confirm that.
And yeah, maybe I do need a doctor that, you know, I have a pain in my knee. What should I do? But yeah, I guess, because you do hear and see there's kind of that natural is this normal, is this, is that something you hear other people complaining about. Now, you and I also dish a lot.
Let's admit that we, we, we do this kind of after everyone leaves and we make fun of people's matchy matchy and other things, but there's also often a lot of this drama that goes on like clicky stuff, right? Like women in particular. I don't, I can't say for men because I haven't had that experience.
It doesn't mean they don't do it, but oftentimes there's these little gym cliques. Big groups that kind of gang up on others and so forth. And then that's a confidence problem right there. Right?
I mean, you know, it's so funny because where we exercise, when I first started teaching there, I felt like I was shut out of the cliques.
I'm just like, oh, hello. Like I have the microphone on. Can someone please be my friend and talk to me? So, I know that, and it's been so interesting because some of the women that I kind of thought were exacerbating this cliquishness or kind of like the, I always think of like the mean girls, like the queen bee.
Like I it's, when I think of like the people that I thought of as being that once I've had a chance to know them are some of the most kindhearted people, the most Christian people, the most caring people that would go out of the way for anything and anyone. And it's just interesting looking back. Did I say, oh, well look at them you know, they have amazing physiques.
They're so strong. They have all these capabilities. They're beautiful. Did I think that they were being clique-ish and mean just based on that? Was it my preconceived notion? Was it my judgment? And looking back potentially, I mean, potentially it's maybe that's not that they're putting that off as much as that's what I'm picking up based on the kind of day that I'm having or where I'm coming from.
Yeah. You know, and I, and I've noticed this in, in the years too, you walk in and, say to a group class. And certain people will never say hello. They won't look you in the eye and you can take that one of two ways. Right. You can take it as like, I'm the outsider, but I've made a habit and it's probably because I'm older and I'm a confidence crusader, I'll go out of my way to be like that person's going to say hi to me.
Like, I’ll be like hey bestie or hey, nice to see you. Or, you know, those sneakers are rocking it, right? Like, I'll just go out of my way now, truthfully. 99% of the time, they will say hi back that day and for thereafter. Because we do make that assumption that they're trying to close us out, the reality is they're just shy or embarrassed or don't have confidence themselves.
Right. Totally true. Totally true. And I do find in terms of like a typical, you know, workout journey, how do you get through it? Everyone that I know that is a hundred percent committed to the gym, has gym friends. They have a subset of friends that is at the gym. People that know them and know their names, care about them.
They've exchanged information or numbers, you know, hey, so-and-so, I'm running late. Can you, can you set my place up? Can you save my spot? Cause I'm, I'll be walking in the room, like right when class starts. They all have gym friends. So, in terms of going to the gym, I would say some gyms are better at creating or fostering senses of community than others.
Some classes are better at fostering a sense of community versus others. So, I would say try a lot and find your place. I mean, maybe it's that you enjoy some kind of studio atmosphere versus big box gym atmosphere or some kind of outdoor class in the park because you enjoy nature. But finding people that foster that, I feel like reduce the risk of failure by a lot, because you have people in your corner and increase your confidence.
I'm currently in a yoga training right now with a group of nine other women. So, it's been so funny. We've been together for, you know, 180 hours at this point. And at first, we were all on our best behavior, you know, and now we're practicing, you know, doing different types of handstands.
This girl does not invert, talking about myself. Like I don't go upside down and I'm okay with that. But you know, feeling like a big, what was it, a big blueberry and like being willing to be like, you know what, I'm probably gonna fall down here, but I'm gonna try on my hands in front of a room full of, of women that some of them are in amazing shape and being okay with it.
It's just because we've had that trust from the hours and hours and hours. So I think that having friends that you can rely on, having that community, having those gym friends, I think improves confidence naturally because even if you screw up, they're in your corner.
Yeah, no, it's cool. It's cool. I totally get it.
The reason I, by the way I picked blueberries, like anyone who's a Willy Wonka fan knows the Veruca blueberry thing. And that that's kind of what, sometimes I walk into the gym, and I literally feel like I'm just, you know expanding in front of my very own eyes. You know, it's the, what you said about having kind of gym buddies and having a sense of belonging, right?
That is at the core of every confidence conversation we have; we know from a brain science perspective and all that's key to longevity. We know that people who walk with buddies even are more motivated, and truth be told through COVID, I've been going to your class, this one class that you teach Wednesday mornings, and there are three of us.
In addition to you, right, the same three every week has been through COVID we're spread out like, gosh, I have no what 30 feet apart, at least. Right. But there's three of us and I feel a sense of guilt literally by not going. Cause I don't want to let my buddies down. I don't know their names. I wouldn't know if they were literally sitting next to me in a movie theater, but you know, I won't let them down because they are you know, I feel like I know when the one of them is missing, I feel like what.
So, it's interesting how we play those little mind games with ourselves and and having that sense of belonging and fitting in being part of something. So, you know, big question for you, it's hard some days without you don't have that group, or even if you do have that group, get your butt out of bed to get to the gym.
And I guess, you know, if you don't have that group, you don't have that kind of coach like you do that will call me if I'm not there. Right? Like what do, what do people do? What's the best advice you can give him them to get motivated, get their confidence to just open that heavy door and get in there and just do your thing blueberry or not.
No, you're not. I have a, I have one of my favorite students of all times named Phillip from New York city. I had him for years and I do a lot of cycling training. So, I would always talk about how, you know, low end work, work that’s not like high intensity training, it's not crazy, it gives you so much in terms of physical and fitness benefits.
So don't forget that. I use that on the days that you don't feel like doing anything. I'm not saying that workout seven days a week, but I'm saying if you typically go three times a week to the gym and it's one of those three days and you feel like you just can't make it, think about what you can do that will make you feel good and confident.
So maybe that is a 20-minute breezy walk on the treadmill. Maybe it is going into the mat section and just doing your own personal stretching on the mat for 15 minutes. Maybe even, even just in the privacy of your home, doing a meditation session for five minutes, that you can focus on yourself.
So, think of something that always makes you feel good, that always gives more than it takes in return and commit to that on the days that you don't want to do anything. So, okay. Maybe it's two days a year. Maybe it's every single day. But over the course of the year, you know, doing three times a week of something ends up being over 150 times a year of something.
So that starts to add up. Will you feel different a year from now or three months from now? Yes. So just find something that doesn't intimidate and remember that it's always better than nothing.
Yeah. And you know, the key word in there was decide, right? Because the core of every confidence, feeling every confidence behavior is a decision to do, a conscious decision.
So just there by making that conscientious, I'm going to do this instead of that, you’re giving yourself a little compassion. Good for you. That's part of the equation too, but. Like you said, you know, making the decision and doing it, that should still give you a little bit of a dopamine hit to say I did it.
I'm accomplished. That's awesome. And it does add up, right. I think it does add up. So, what I'm going to do, speaking of adding up is I want to take a little commercial break, a little, give our sponsors some love. And when we come back, when we give you a second to think about this question, CAROLINE is if you got a dollar for every time somebody said something to you that you literally were like, are you kidding me? Like ridiculous, knock it off. Like you're being ridiculous, but you can't say that. What would that thing be?
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All right. So, we're back and I dropped a pretty large question.
I want to know truthfully, behind the scenes of the curtain, behind the workout wall with Caroline Dawson, my awesome friend here. I know you're getting a lot of people saying to you, something that is completely whackadoodle more often than not in terms of unrealistic that people just don't, they're not being honest with themselves with their confidence and just curious, like what's the most popular thing or what happens more often that you just literally want to slap them up and say, knock it off.
I think a lot of times, you know, I'm not big enough to try that, or I'm not strong enough to try that.
Just, again, which lacks in confidence. And the reality is when you try something new and you're not immediately great at it, your ego is bruised and it's very hard to put yourself in that situation. So, I would say, you know, use the advice from Finding Nemo, which is just keep going, just keep doing it.
Like, why can't you do a single leg squat, if you've been coming to class for two years doing a double leg squat, why can't you try that? Why not? If not you then who? You know, maybe stand next to a wall to do it or find a way to do it, but just the assumption that I probably won't be okay, so I'm not going to try, I think is the one thing that, that drives me nuts.
I mean, I've seen 75-year-old women do like these amazing acrobats, acrobatic feats and yoga. And just like, what? And when I was 25, I'm having confidence issues doing the same things when I'm in shape and 25, but they're doing it like it's nothing at 75. Like why couldn't I try that back then? And I know that I'm not 25 now, but why, why couldn't I?
Thinking back, it's just like, man, like if I only had that same mindset back then, so stop thinking that you're not good enough stop thinking that you're not strong enough because if not, you can go, right?
No, I love that. I mean, I think. I know, and I don't think I know that I'm drawn to people like you that have the attitude of I'm human like everyone else, why can't I do it?
Right. And I think that comes through in everything we do, you and I do, and other people do, relative to you make decisions about what you want to do, not necessarily what you believe you can or cannot do. And people often say to me, like, you know, why did you write your first book?
You know, I'm seven books in, like, what made you write your first book? And I was like, well, nobody told me I couldn't. Why? Why would I believe otherwise? So, I have to practice more of that in the gym. And I think maybe next time when you do something that I literally say, I will fall on my head and crack it open if I try that and maybe I will do it and then blame you.
No, I'm kidding.
Well, needless to say, you know, there are days that I'm a little bit more adventurous than others and I am grateful for your leadership in pushing my limits some days. So, thank you for that again, but really thank you for being here, because I do think that more people don't go to the gym or workout in general, just because of confidence issues more than anything.
So, thank you for breaking down some of that bologna.
Awesome, great to see you.
I'm going to wrap up this topic because today, like every day, I want to remind everyone who's listening that in order to get confidence, you’ve got to give some of it away. And so, to do that really easily, you can just like and share this podcast on your social media channels.
If there's a topic that you would like me to talk about, please let me know. And any questions you have, please bring them on. So, for now, this is Alyssa Dver. I want to thank you for helping to bring more confidence to the world.
This podcast was produced by mindful media, all rights reserved by Alyssa Dver and the American Confidence Institute. Music written and performed by Jeff Weinstein.