Time to get real: Fitness is nowhere near as glamorous as it looks on Instagram. It’s certainly not all handstands on the beach, owning battle ropes at the gym, or looking fresh—glowing even—taking a selfie post-Spin class. Working out is often a sweat-drenched, physically awkward, and, at times, downright embarrassing experience. Whether you’ve forgotten your sports bra at home or totally failed at trying a new piece of equipment, you’re not alone. For a reminder that we’re all in this fitness struggle together, here are 11 of our favorite laugh-out-loud, reader-submitted stories of epic #gymfails.
“When I was a sophomore in high school, I had a crush on a guy on my swim team named Wes. He was a great swimmer, friends with all my friends, but barely spoke to me. Then one day at swim practice, after getting a brand new purple swimsuit I was super pumped about, I walked onto the pool deck, feeling really confident. The team started our 45-minute dry land session, which included a lot of stretching (a.k.a. a lot of bending over). All of a sudden I hear Wes (of all people) say, ‘Hey, Noelle! As much as I like looking at the moon, I’m not so into staring at yours for the rest of this dry land session.’ As it turns out, my amazing brand new purple suit had a nice big hole right in the a$$, and my butt was bare for all to see.”—Noelle
“One time I was working out with a boot camp group at a park. The trainer had set up some of those large rubber bands to assist in doing pull-ups. We were alternating between running laps and doing kettlebell swings and pull-ups, and I was rushing to get my workout done. I went to the pull-up bar and put my foot in the band with all my body weight before I could get my hands on the bar. I ended up being shot back three feet and landed right on my butt! Everyone looked around, concerned that I was hurt, but I just sprang right back up and ran another lap to run off my embarrassment.”—Megan
“Farting during a squat.” (Enough said.) —Maddie, @MarcoGirl97
“I had signed up for a barre class in advance and was just about to leave the office when I realized I forgot my entire gym bag. Panicked and unwilling to pay the cancelation fee, I found an old t-shirt under my desk and rushed out the door. I got to class a few minutes late and walked into a studio full of women in cute leggings. Unfortunately, I had worn jeans to work that day, so I had to plié my way through the entire class in denim and a ratty shirt. No one said anything, but I could feel the judgmental (and probably confused) stares on me the whole time.” —Molly, @molritt
“I was trying to set my GPS watch while riding my brand new, very fancy carbon-fiber bike (with the clip-in shoes and everything!). Basically, I totally looked like I knew what I was doing, and I was dressed to fit the part. As I was messing with the watch, I wasn’t paying attention and rode right into a construction site. More specifically, into a six-foot ditch in the park surrounded by construction workers! Oops.”—Renee
“I’m a fitness instructor, and I lift regularly on my own, so I like to think I’m pretty knowledgeable. One day, I was working out at one of the gyms where I teach, and there wasn’t a barbell at the bench. I spotted one lying not too far away, so I got up and grabbed it. I thought it felt a little light, but didn’t think too much of it. Maybe I was just feeling strong. So I put it on the bench to start loading on plates. Then the personal training manager came up to me and said, ‘Um, that is a training bar, and it only weighs 15 pounds. There’s an Olympic bar over there if you want to use it.” And here I thought my gains were just paying off!”—Shannon, @willsquatforpeanut_butter
Parental Guidance Suggested
“I was home from college on Christmas break and decided to go work out with my parents. We were all running on the indoor track when my left foot slipped inside the loop of my right shoelace, and I face planted. I almost took my mom down with me, and my dad had to stop running because he was laughing so hard.”—Lexxi, @lexxipaige
“I was on a treadmill really early in the morning, back when we still had CD Walkmans. Mine fell, so without thinking, I stopped to pick it up. But the treadmill was still running, so I flew backward and hit the wall. Trying to steady myself, I put my hands down in front of me to stand up, but the treadmill that was still going. So my hands flew back, and I went face first into the moving treadmill belt. I had this red rug burn down my face when I went into work that morning. Ouch.”—Diane, @dianetamara
“At my first Spin class, I was unaware I needed special ‘Spin shoes,’ and I thought everyone brought their own feet baskets. So I took a bike all the way in the back and powered my way through the class on the little nubs of those clip-in pedals. That is, until the first sprint, when I lost my footing and the pedal came around and cracked me in the calf! I limped out and didn’t try another Spin class until eight months later—with a more experienced friend!”—Marisa, @marisaann0131
Spring a Leak
“After having two kids, I decided to get back in shape. So I opted to try out the workout that was becoming popular at the time: kickboxing. At my first class, I excitedly warmed up without issue. But as soon as I threw a powerful kick, it felt like my water had broken all over again (a.k.a. I totally peed my pants!). I quickly retreated to the back of room and slipped out the back without a word—never to return.”—Tanya
“I was on the treadmill for 45 minutes, no problem. Then I went to lift for some time, no problem. Then I wanted to get in a little extra cardio, so I went to one of the studios to jump rope. And that’s when I felt something creep down the inside of my sweatpants. I thought it was a freaking spider, so I looked down and realized a pair of my underwear had caught on to my sweatpants in the laundry! I was just so thankful no one was in the studio, because what if my drawers had just fallen out the bottom of my pants in front of my gym crush!? Or in front of anyone for that matter! —Candyce @Chaseshadows89
Some stories were lightly edited for length and clarity.