Thanks for Telling Me I’m Obese- a Not So Fun Return to the Gym

by Emma Heap, Sudor CEO & Co-Founder

There are many reasons behind why we started Sudor — as an entrepreneur you have to really believe in what you’re doing or you’ll give up(!) — and I was reminded very clearly of one yesterday, in my first visit back to a gym.

One of the things I’ve missed most in lockdown has been the gym floor— so to say I was excited was an understatement. My friend and I were considering signing up, so we booked a trial and showed up for the mandatory sales pitch.
Once we were done haggling we were shown on a tour of the gym. The sales guy “Spencer” took us past the body fat measurement machine, taking good care to point it out and explain how to use it. He also said we can give it a go there and then… which of course we did!
Now, my friend and I have very different goals. He wants to bulk up after only doing cardio the past few months, and I want to lose the tummy weight I put on after a bad ankle injury. He didn’t really need a machine to tell him his body fat was low, and I didn’t really need one to say mine was a bit high. In fact, I was fully prepared for that.

However, what I wasn’t prepared for was someone to nail down the numbers quite so aggressively (with absolutely no attempt to understand the context). Most of our ‘scores’ were in the normal range — his mainly at the lower end, mine mainly at the higher end, but we were both made to feel like total failures.
For example, my body water was 34.4 which is towards the higher end of my “normal range” 28.8–35.3. After peering over the machine, Spencer simply told me to “reduce my water retention” — with no guidance on how to do so or questions as to understand the cause. As a side note, with a 5 min Google, I confirmed two possible reasons; 1. the time in my cycle and 2. I am a week into a keto diet; both of which can cause water retention.
Spencer then moved on to my mineral report — my score 3.5, vs a normal range of 2.9–3.5. Again, I was told this was very high. When we mentioned that it was in the range, suddenly Spencer decided it was actually fine, good in fact.
Next up — body composition. My left leg has more fat and less muscle than my right leg. Spencer helpfully advised that this was probably because I was right-handed. I offered an alternative explanation — that I’d been out for a few months with torn ligaments in my left foot (he wasn’t listening). This time he did offer a solution — use the leg press to reduce the imbalance.
The final crunch for me was being told I was “Pre-Obese”.

Until my friend started asking for details on all the levels, I was made to feel like quite the heffalump (turns out there are 4 obesity levels above this). My (now dear) friend Spencer kindly advised me to take HIIT classes to deal with this problem and burn some of the fat.
To say I was taken aback, somewhat depressed and demotivated by this experience would be an understatement… and my body confidence is fairly high. I found myself wondering how someone with already low body confidence would feel.
So how does this tie into Sudor — the platform that we’ve spent the last 18 months and a lot of blood, sweat and tears building?
We strongly believe that the only person that can be responsible for your fitness journey is you. This means showing up, managing your workout schedule and investing the time to build your own knowledge and experience around fitness and what works for you.
We built Sudor to encourage the world to move more. Just moving a little bit every day can have a significant impact on wellness and mental health. You’ll never find progress bars or comparisons on Sudor — we are focused on connecting you with trainers, workouts and classes that you will enjoy — because if you enjoy something you’ll come back again and again. And if you move more consistently, you’ll feel a million times better — and if you ask me, that feeling is worth more than a million machines telling you you’re normal.

One of the many gym selfies I took to see if I really was as obese as the machine was telling me: