Bullies can be found everywhere. At school. At work. And if you thought that at least gyms and fitness classes are safe from them, think again. There is no perfectly safe space from bullying, so knowing how to deal with them is the best way to stop them in their tracks.

Reddit user KatarinaKiev posted about how a couple of fitness bullies made her life hell in spin class and online. However, the story had a happy ending—the terrible twosome got their just desserts while the redditor was left to get fit in peace.

Scroll down to read Katarina’s story in her own words. Let us know in the comments what you think of the situation and if you’ve ever had any encounters with gym bullies, dear Readers. And be sure to check out Bored Panda’s exclusive in-depth interview about dealing with fitness bullies with Paulius Lipskis who is a personal trainer, kinesiotherapist, and the founder of the Mes Geresni (We’re Better) Facebook page about healthy living.

A Reddit user shared her story of how she dealt with two fitness bullies at her spin class

Image credits: Aberdeen Proving Ground (not the actual photo)

Image credits: KatarinaKiev

Bullying comes from being unable to deal with how you feel about yourself

Not going to lie, folks, my experience with people who take good care of their bodies and health has only been positive. But I’m one of the lucky ones, unlike some people who have had to deal with buff bullies.

But what exactly is a fitness or gym bully? Well, they’re people who see themselves as superior to others in a fitness environment and love demeaning everyone weaker than them.

“Competition isn’t a bad thing, however, if this isn’t understood fully, it can manifest in places where it isn’t acceptable. For example, in gyms,” said personal trainer Lipskis. According to him, people tend to bully and degrade others when they feel bad about themselves but fail to acknowledge that. That’s when they redirect their aggression towards others.

“It’s demanding power and respect at the wrong time, in the wrong place”

“By looking for others’ weak spots and showing that they’re stronger than others at the gym, these people can continue to ignore that they’re feeling bad in other areas of their lives. In short, it’s demanding power and respect at the wrong time, in the wrong place.”

Lipskis told Bored Panda that people shouldn’t take things too seriously or start a conflict if they’re dealing with a one-off disrespectful situation. “It’s the perfect opportunity to learn from these people, specifically, that you should compete only with yourself; and those who try to compete by degrading others just end up looking stupid.”

“However, if this sort of behavior continues, it becomes the fitness club’s responsibility. You need to fill out a form and get rid of the people who are muddling up the gym’s atmosphere.”

Respect between gym or fitness club members is paramount

Lipskis explained that gyms have to make ensure that there is positive communication and respect between members. And, if that’s not the case, gyms have to let them go. “I wouldn’t advise getting into a conflict personally, but you should let the gym’s management know so that they can deal with the situation.”

According to Lipskis, fitness bullying doesn’t happen too often. However, in the rare cases that Lipskis sees someone degrading someone else, he steps in: “If this sort of behavior continues, I embarrass the bullies with a joke so that there’s little chance of a conflict. I also don’t give in to provocations. I would tell them to stop what they’re doing and leave if they wouldn’t take the hint. Afterward, I’d let the necessary personnel know about what happened.”

Different strategies for different situations

Bullies might feel insecure and need to ‘prove’ that they’re best around to feed their ego. Or it might be because, deep down, they’re just big jerks whom Karma will catch up with eventually. TL;DR: they feed on attention; they get attention by putting others down instead of lifting them up.

There are different ways to deal with gym bullies. Of course, you can always do what Katarina did and confront them. But no two situations are alike.

Sometimes, ignoring your bullies can be the best way to move forward: if they see that their BS isn’t affecting you, they’ll stop harassing you. You’ve got better things to do than to deal with their childish tactics!

If that doesn’t work, try talking to them about their behavior. A lot of people respect directness. Or, you can do what personal trainer Lipskis suggested and talk to the management at the gym about the situation. Odds are, you’re not the only victim of their disrespectful behavior.

Here’s how some people reacted to Katarina’s story online