It takes a lot of courage to go to the gym and work on your health knowing that some people will judge you. What doesn’t help is when the staff members belittle you and embarrass you, throwing you out. Canadian mom Shelby Rodriguez went viral when she shared how she was unceremoniously asked to leave the gym because of the way that she was dressed, in a series of TikTok videos. And this was after she’d already gotten permission to work out in her sports bra for the day from the administrator.

I had an in-depth and open chat with Shelby about what happened, what the reaction on social media was like, and how she still finds the drive to keep working out even when so many people poked fun at her. The core of the problem wasn’t even the gym’s dress code (no sports bras allowed) but the way the entire situation was handled. A bit more grace, a bit more tact and understanding from the staff wouldn’t have gone amiss.

“While I understand I was not completely in the right by making the mistake of wearing the sports bra in the first place, the gym also handled the situation badly,” Shelby told Bored Panda. The internet was split on how to react: while many supported the mom, others thought that she was being overly dramatic. Some even went as far as making fun of her for crying which, frankly, is far from ok.

“I had a TikTok video with almost 2 million views, with hundreds of people telling me I’m just a crybaby (along with even more amazing and supportive comments), and I’m still going back to that same gym. I’m not giving up,” she said. Now that’s real dedication and the type of courage that I honestly admire. You’ll find my full interview with Shelby below.

More info: TikTok | Instagram

Shelby, from Canada, shared how she was utterly embarrassed by the employees at her gym

Shelby believes that better employee training would definitely make a difference in how similar situations regarding the dress code are handled in the future. The rules are there for a reason, but when one staff member tells you that you can stay while another tells you to get out, it can quickly become overwhelming for someone who spent less than a week at the gym.

“I spoke to the manager of the gym on the phone after the incident, and he said that their policy IS actually to tell people to just wear something else the next time,” Shelby pointed out to Bored Panda that there was quite a lot of miscommunication among the employees the day of the incident.

“When I was spoken to a second time by a second employee, I explained what had happened when I arrived and said, ‘The lady at the front desk said it was alright for this time’ and held up my wrist, showing my wrist band,” she told us what happened.

“I don’t know why, but she just kept repeating herself, ‘Well you just can’t be here wearing that,’ no matter how many times I tried to explain and again show the wrist band. This went on until I was emotional and didn’t know what else to do but leave, it was clear that I wasn’t welcome.”

Better training essentially comes down to more communication between gym employees. Without communication, any business is doomed from the start. “She could have easily spoken to the first lady herself but instead she berated me, the patron at the gym.”

The mom went into more detail in a series of her TikTok videos

@shelby.bellzidk why I’m even posting this #fatshaming #weightloss #weightlossjourney #bodyimage #bodypositivity #weightlosstiktok #weightlossforwomen #foryoupage♬ original sound – shelby 𖥸

@shelby.bellzReply to @shelby.bellz thank you thank you thank you #bodypositivity #bodyimage #weightlossjourney #weightlosstiktok #weightlossforwomen #foryoupage♬ original sound – shelby 𖥸

I also wanted to get Shelby’s opinion about why so many people still fat-shame others instead of being supportive and, well, decent human beings. “I think people are uncomfortable seeing larger bodies, especially people who have larger bodies and are comfortable wearing things like crop tops,” Shelby said.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers as to how things can change. She suggested that one of the things that we can do is judging others less for what they wear. Especially at the gym where everyone’s doing their gosh darn best to live a healthier lifestyle.

“I don’t think there is a simple answer to what needs to happen for change at a societal level, the issue is so extremely complex and something that has been going on since before I was even born. But I think a great first step is not caring what others wear into the gym, as long as they are comfortable.”

Finally, Shelby shared some words of encouragement for everyone and anyone who’s exercising but finding it challenging. “Keep going even when something brings you down. Don’t let small bumps in the road make huge ripples in your life,” she said to focus on the bigger picture, not the minute details that truly don’t matter.

Shelby isn’t a fan of motivation. She, just like I do, believes that discipline and dedication are what help you reach your goals, not something as fickle as motivation. “I love the term, ‘Dedication not motivation’ because it’s so true. Motivation comes and goes, but if you stay dedicated even when you’re not motivated, you’ll get where you want to be.” Tried and tested, dear Pandas, tried and tested.

Despite what happened and some of the criticism Shelby received online, she’s continuing to work out with great enthusiasm

Image credits: shelbyrodrigue_z

Image credits: shelbyrodrigue_z

Image credits: shelbyrodrigue_z

Here’s how some people reacted after watching the videos