NBD Will people at the gym judge me?

When people feel judged, they may feel ashamed. Their body acting out of the wish to disappear attempts to make itself small. Shame produces an implosion of the body:  eyes looking down, head lowered, hunching, slouching, raised shoulders with neck withdrawn, covering face with hand, and the upper body curved in on itself as if trying to be as small as possible.  Darting eyes or avoidance of eye contact are signs that indicate the presence of emotions such as shame or embarrassment.  When a person feels very ashamed, they might avoid social interactions completely. The person might seem anxious as they approach other people.  Shame makes people feel judged.


Shame is an emotional and cognitive experience arising when someone feels that they did something wrong. Shame is classified as a moral, self-conscious emotion, along with pride, guilt, and embarrassment, and is one of the most social, other-oriented emotions that people experience throughout life.  Shame is cast primarily as a self-regulatory emotion prompting individuals to reflect on their mistakes and ultimately feel better about themselves.  It has been shown to have a potentially positive function within social interaction of stimulating pro-social behaviors towards and from others, promoting actions towards those who have been wronged specifically. Experiments have shown that shame can prompt people to specific actions towards others, such as helping behaviors, and prejudice-reducing behaviors.  In social situations people will act pro-socially and make amends in social contexts.  However, when people are socially isolated, they will engage in self-punishment.


While gym-goers felt shame and most judged for their weight, the most common reason that people admitted to judging others was over other gym-goers’ clothing choices (47.3 percent), followed by their weight (39.9 percent), improperly using the equipment (35.2 percent), and taking a gym selfie (34.6 percent).  People judge other people within 1 minute of their first impression.  However, when people become socially connected, they switch to cheerleading the efforts of other to improve themselves.

Superhero stance  

Superhero stance is the physical pose in which the superhero stands with legs spread apart, arms on hips, elbows bent like Superman. The superhero stance projects power. Psychologists refer to superhero stance as an open posture, in which limbs are spread out to take up more space such as legs apart. Open postures contrast with closed postures, in closed postures the body takes up relatively little space.  Open postures project confidence and closed postures project shame.  Numerous psychological studies have demonstrated that open postures convey a sense of the individual having power and closed postures convey a sense of the individual having little power.

Humans and other animals’ express power through open, expansive postures, and they express powerlessness through closed, contractive postures. But can these postures cause power? The results of this study confirmed that posing in high-power nonverbal displays, superhero pose, would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants.  Superhero posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, increased feelings of power, and tolerance for risk.  Low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern of shame and feeling judged. In short, superhero posing displays power which caused adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes. These findings suggest that embodiment of power extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices. That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful has real-world, actionable implications.

Assuming the superhero pose before your workout, reaps benefits of confidence and power.  The superhero pose will take back your power from others reducing shame and the feeling of being judged.  This self-empowerment will give your new social circle a chance to get to know you and cheer you on as you progress toward your workout goals.  Stop feeling shame, start feeling the superhero power.

No Body Denied Fitness 901 Mountain Ave, Springfield Township, NJ 07081   Ph: 973258-9170








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