“Bullied” at the Gym (Ha!)

Word choice can be a funny thing . . . and the word “bullied” is a strong one, not to mention a “hot topic” these days. It definitely captured the attention of readers all around the world, after an interview I did, about a month ago, was published. So before Baby #2 arrives, I wanted to clear a few things up for all my family, friends, and fans, who have been asking about the articles and various quotes that circulated in over forty plus outlets.

Ask ANY pregnant woman, and she will probably share with you both positive and negative comments that she has received both inside and more commonly, outside the gym. For someone my size (5’1” & 105 lbs. not pregnant), I carry large babies. My son was almost 8.5 lbs and #2 is on it’s way to be about the same. In other words, there is no hiding pregnancy with me – I walk in the room and it’s like “Hey Baby!” 

So I suppose that it should be no surprise that during this pregnancy, I’ve overheard side comments about my bump and surprisingly even received many comments directly – all of which I tried my best to respond to with a smile on my face. After hearing some pretty crazy ones, I reached out to friends, and even “Facebooked” it, to see what other interesting comments women had heard during their pregnancies. The response from fellow mommies was overwhelming with anything from, “Your stretch marks are the worst I’ve ever seen.” to Your butt is so big.” 

What were some of my own experiences? 

They are pretty funny really.  In my first trimester, I had a few girls who took a class after I taught comment, “That instructor looks like she just ate a burrito,” to which I wondered, “Did they think I couldn’t hear them?”  By the way, I didn’t hesitate to correct them and mention that yes, my burrito was in fact a baby. The running joke, among a few fellow trainers and me, has been “How many burritos does it look Sara’s eaten today?”  Hey, you have to have a sense of humor about all of this, right?

In my second trimester I got everything from “Oh, are you like 7 months now?” when I was only 5 months.  (My male friends have all learned from my venting that you NEVER guess how far along a pregnant woman is.)  I even had someone say, “You look great. Your face is just fuller.” My reaction to this was “Really? Did you think that was a compliment?” What I really wanted to say was, “Would you ever say that to someone that was NOT pregnant?”  Trust me, it’s better to just comment on our “healthy glow.”

And most recently in my third trimester, my favorites: “OMG – are you due tomorrow?” and “You’re STILL pregnant?’” to which my usual response is: “If you feel that way, imagine how I feel.”  

So, I guess the question becomes: Is this bullying? 

I suppose some may see it that way.  By definition, bullying is “to treat abusively” or “to behave in a certain way to gain power over another person.”  Do I think that the things that were said to me were said with that intention?  No . . . no way. But I do think if they were said to the wrong person, they could be taken that way, and I do think that there may be some people, especially in a gym setting, who might “power trip” on seeing a usually fit person put on weight. I don’t know that I will ever understand the need to comment on someone’s pregnancy, especially to their face, but it happens and it bothers me, which is ultimately why it was addressed in the interview I did.

Rather than “bullying,” I see this more as pure ignorance, or people making unfiltered comments without thinking about how it might actually make the pregnant woman feel. More often than not, I find that these comments are made my men or women who have not had babies. In other words, these people have not been pregnant (or maybe have never been around a pregnant person), so they don’t realize what or how it feels to be in a forever changing body that you don’t have much control over.

And yes, I promise you there are many more people out there who say kind and wonderful things during my pregnancy, like “You look great.” or “I admire you for still working out.” but that’s not a “hot topic” and discussing all the good things people say most likely will  not open people’s minds and hearts to the idea of thinking before they speak. People WILL continue to be unfiltered; it’s inevitable. My goal in doing the interview was to remind expecting women to keep their self-confidence in tact, especially when we’re actively growing a human.  Creating a healthy baby inside a healthy body is our number one goal, and that means eating well, exercising, sleeping, eliminating stress, etc. Who cares what anyone else has to say!

I hope this answers some of your lingering questions. Thank you to all of those who have supported and encouraged me throughout my pregnancies – the body is an extraordinary thing.  I feel beyond honored to have been able to do this again for the second time. Stay tuned . . . I should have an announcement any day now.

Here are links to just some of the other outlets that covered the story:

Huffington Post



WomensHealth. com



11 thoughts on ““Bullied” at the Gym (Ha!)

  1. Well said, Haley! Thank you for writing this. At a little over 6 months pregnant and working/teaching at an athletic club, the comments have opened my eyes to the sad workings of women obsessed with image and weight. The comments are always made with the same glazed over look in their eye of someone that wastes a lot of energy trying to be perfect on the outside and not knowing how to nurture internally. “You’re not exactly skinny” or “I thought you were just married and happy so you were eating more” “did you get a boob job?” “Wow, you really popped!” Listen up everyone, you weren’t invited to give your opinion about my body before I was pregnant – and you are certainly not now!!!

    1. Jen,

      No worries, I was called Haley all through college – thanks for the flashback. 🙂 Moreover, keep doing you! I’m so glad there is a community of us fitness people who are going through this. I think, regardless, people would comment. I gain about 30 pounds with my pregnancy. I think even if I gained 20 or 40, people would still comment on whether I looked little or big. People always seem to have something to say . . .

  2. Well said! People have no filter. When I was pregnant, I was on the receiving end of negative comments regarding the fact that I worked out & was in the gym up until the day I delivered! No one bothered to ask if I was under appropriate medical supervision or if I had sought the assistance of a trainer. When, in fact, both were true. Instead, it was viewed negatively & assumed that I cared more about myself than little man! In reality, I had more energy, ate better & felt fantastic the entire 9 months. I maintain to this day that I was a better wife & employee because of the physical activity I maintained during my pregnancy. I gained 28 pounds & delivered a little boy just over 7 pounds that was carried full term! I have no regrets & I am proud of how I handled my pregnancy. Like breast feeding, working out during pregnancy & appropriate weight gain will always be debated, but at the end of the day, everyone should do what is best for them!

    1. Bravo, Brianne! I agree. The main reason I workout is because it makes me feeI happy! Moreover, it just feels better to move than not move. Outside of what I see in the mirror, it also helps me to feel normal (that is assuming I can work out in peace and not have someone interrupt me to comment on my pregnancy and how big I’m getting). I feel proud that I’m doing something for me & my baby. And most of the time, exercise leaves me feeling more energized than when I began.

  3. What I love (sarcasm of course) is after I had the baby (my fourth boy is under a year old) is “you look great for having four kids!” So if I didn’t have any kids, I look like crap? Lol. I tell people (only family and friends, not strangers) that their statement may be intended to be nice but it really isn’t a compliment. Haha.

  4. Oh boy, Paula. It never stops, right? Yes, I too have “schooled” many family and friends about tactful pregnancy techniques. 🙂

  5. I am pregnant with my second now too. My supportive coworkers tell me “You get a little bigger every day!”. And they say this daily! (I am 5 foot 2 inches :)). I try to respond with enthusiasm, it is great that my baby is growing, right? But, I do feel healthy and strong inside, so that helps. I attribute this to your Expecting More work outs, that I really cannot get enough of! I was so happy to work out with them again this time around.

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