Feeling awkward doing exercises at work

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    Feeling awkward doing exercises at work

    So, I started doing the office boxer today, I work in a call center, so we each have a cube to sit in, but they're chest height when you stand up. I'm here about 10 hr a day 5 days a week right now because of the COVID thing (we caption for the hard of hearing and deaf) and so I recognize the need to get up and do something. How do you/did you get past feeling super awkward doing any exercise at your desk where folks could see? It doesn't help that I'm pretty distinctive looking and also overweight, and have some anxiety issues

    mclovin0531 Welcome to the Hive. If you go to the home page, there is a search engine about halfway down the page. Enter office workout, hit search; you will find many office space related workouts. I think you will find some great ideas to help you.


      PETERMORRIS966 the issue is not finding them, it's how to combat feeling like a fool while doing them in my cube around all of my colleagues in my cube. I have two from here that I'm doing, I just feel....dumb


        Well it's something that has to come from you, that being said, if you get along with some of your coworkers you can get a few of them to do it with you, so it wouldn't be as awkward


          mclovin0531, great to see you here!

          About feeling awkward: come on, we are all strange from somebody's point of view, but it should not be a matter for you when you are absolutely sure you are doing the right thing. Of course that's not the case when we are talking about some really rude, disturbing or even dangerous things like swearing loudly or offending state symbols or vandalising, yet exercising – even in public – absolutely cannot offend anybody. It may look somewhat strange, but there is no point concerning about it. That's why you'd better stop thinking it's cringy and just continue your fitness. I strongly believe there are many people at your work who wouldn't mind it or will even support such activity.


            There are basically two different ways that a person can't do exercise. The first is that they are not physically capable of it. This is easily remedied though by strengthening the body.

            The more difficult part comes to mentally being able to do something, and I understand your situation because I have been in it. I have had colleagues tell me that they don't believe that I go to the gym, or make fun of my efforts to get in shape. In society, you will find that there are trend-setters, the masses and the luddites. The trend setters will try new things, but the masses wait until they see that it is acceptable and safe to do so, and even make fun of the people who are trying to make changes. It can be hard to be the person that stands up and does the stuff that others judge, but you also have to remember that there are two parts to your ability to exercise. You are conquering your inability to do it from a physical standpoint but far more impressive is that you are conquering your inability to do it from a mental standpoint. It can be hard standing there alone, but it helps to define who you are more so than being the person that doesn't do it.

            My present conditions are such that I don't go to the gym anymore (I have a decent exercise room in its place), but when I did I had two exercises that I did that were a bit odd (maybe more than two actually). One was what is called a ruck-stair pyramid, where you wear a rucksack (in my case a weight vest) and walk a flight of stairs, do one squat, another flight, two squats and so on until twenty flights are done. The other was juggling while balancing on a bosu ball. Did I feel like everyone was watching me when I was doing these? At first yes, but as I continued to do them I started to not care, and what is more I learned that there was more to it. A lot of people (who were themselves in good shape) were really curious as to what I was doing and what the benefit was and would stop me to ask what I was doing. At that point I realized that I was doing these things because it was possible because I willed myself to do them, not because I just wanted to do them. Not that I am trying to sound like some sort of superhero, but I am just putting it in context for you, that people will always judge, but it doesn't really matter. The judgers don't have to live in your body at the end of the day.

            As I have said in another thread, I like to compete with only two people when I exercise. One is the person that I was, and the other is the person that I could be. I try to get more ahead of the one every day, and closer to the other. I don't always succeed but I always try.

            Or as Henry Ford said "Whether you think you can or you can't - you're right"


              Originally posted by mclovin0531 View Post
              So, I started doing the office boxer today, I work in a call center, so we each have a cube to sit in, but they're chest height when you stand up. I'm here about 10 hr a day 5 days a week right now because of the COVID thing (we caption for the hard of hearing and deaf) and so I recognize the need to get up and do something. How do you/did you get past feeling super awkward doing any exercise at your desk where folks could see? It doesn't help that I'm pretty distinctive looking and also overweight, and have some anxiety issues
              You're in a difficult situation. Thanks for being astute enough to say something about it. This is a major anxiety among a lot of people and, depending on your work situation, can be a major obstacle to fitness and health - in general. I think a lot of it depends on your work context and the relationship(s) you have, want to have, or don't have with your peers. I am keenly aware as I type this that I am massively simplifying a complex problem. I am using this as an opportunity more to express my own thoughts and fears and maybe those will have some impact on you and the way you handle your work situation.

              I am a healthy middle-aged white male and because of these factors I think exercising anywhere is easier for me. It fits people's expectations and they aren't likely to ridicule me directly or indirectly for doing so. I bike to work, go on runs during my prep hour and regularly do exercises and stretches in front of my peers. I also utilize my work's gym and am free to use their shower facilities if I want. In all of these ways, my experience is very different and much easier than yours and still I feel awkward.

              I have been teased for rolling my pant legs up and wearing 'manpris.' I get weird looks when I change into gym clothes and walk to the gym. I used to borrow a key to the shower room from my supervisor while she was working - and this always brought shame. I've tried to make exercise cool, but others don't share my passion. So I adapted. Things I've learned for my work context.

              1. Accept that it's going to feel awkward and that it will gradual become normalized. When I would march in place or stretch my legs or do calf raises or rows at work and people would look it used to really embarrass me. I would slow down and do it modestly. I would try to find gaps when people weren't around or paying attention to do it. But I kept doing it and I was seen in various phases of trying to hide it. Every time I was seen it made it easier to do it the next time because I'd already handled the awkwardness. In that way, I built context. I was humbled and apologized and they typically responded with "no problem" or "sorry for interrupting" and then I knew it was ok with them.

              2. I found ways of making fitness work within the work structure. I would walk upstairs to use the restroom or do a loop around the building before I went to the restroom. If I could take the stairs when they were unoccupied, I'd do a few exercises like single leg step ups on the stairs while going up (when no one saw me-and sometimes they would and that was awkward but it became more normal). I would do some exercises in the bathroom when I was there or when I was waiting somewhere in a low visitor area I would try to fit something in.

              3. I worked out around work. I made exercise in the AM really important and I found time at night to exercise a bit before bed. Now I run every morning and it's part of my day as much as peeing and showering.

              4. I tried to get friends to do exercises with me. I tried to make Darebee cool. It worked with two people for a short period of time BUT the important thing was that it let them know I was interested in exercise and it made it more normal for me to exercise.

              5. I made it public what my goals are. When at lunch I would share my exercise goals and plans with peers, I would talk about the awkwardness of exercise in the workplace at lunch so that others could hear me struggling and in this way it was a no risk way of indirectly saying - you're going to see me exercise in weird places because that's my goal.

              6. I would ask permission or forgiveness before exercising. I would let my co-workers know "I am going to do a few squats. I know it's awkward but I have to move" This became routine and then expected.

              7. If you can put on music or have some kind of natural environmental noise that can filter out your grunts or stompings, that might help too.

              8. Sometimes, when I feel bursts of confidence, I try to own it and be loud and proud with it. This isn't easy to do but sometimes when the mood struck I would make that happen and again because it's another time my peers see me it made it easier to exercise generally.

              9. I always pack an extra shirt and deodorant in my backpack when I go to work so that I feel confident with my body smells and sights after exercising.

              10. I've tried to find small ways of 'exercising' while working. Such as standing up when talking to someone. Walking in place, etc. I know some people use a standing desks.

              These are some ideas and thoughts on my process. Again, I used this as a chance to reflect. I'm not sure it fits for your context but those are some of my experiences. I guess my overall advice would be to keep doing it and working to deal with the awkwardness. See every moment of getting "busted" as an easing of the awkwardness. They next time those people see you it will be a little less awkward and a little more normal.


                If it helps, I feel awkward and embarrassed exercising alone!

                I've finally started just accepting that I have some internal embarrassment thing that I just have to accept and move through; blame "jocks-vs-nerds" media messaging from the 1980s that reinforced my mind-body dichotomy; and try to remind myself that NEWER research (demonstrated by the awesome student-athletes I used to teach) and classical traditions (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mens_sana_in_corpore_sano ) indicate that helping the body helps the brain.

                You can also take a role as a leader -- suggest to your teammates that since exercise is good for stress reduction and staying focused, and super-good with sedentary jobs, that everyone do desk exercises (and share some darebee workouts). That may decouple it from the "exercise = weight loss" mentality that would make it a judgey thing based on your body type, but a shared thing -- y'all are sitting, y'all are in a stressful situation, so some calf rises and squats can help everyone.


                  Great stuff written on this thread. mclovin0531, welcome and you got this. You decided to make changes for your health and wellbeing, maybe the biggest challenge ain't the exercises.
                  overcoming fears and anxiety to do the exercises to improve self confidence and wellbeing. That ain't easy, but you can do it.
                  Do you have a work buddy with whom you can do the workouts? How cool would it be for a whole call centre to be squattng in cubicles.
                  You are empowering yourself to be the best version of you, this ain't for them, only You. Generally most people are far to preoccupied with themselves to even notice what others are upto and if they're haters then they have way more problems l, if they choose to make themselves feel better by making someone feel less.

                  I ramble and dont make very good points.
                  You do the workouts and we'll support you.