TitleExperiences among women with shame and self-compassion in cardio-based exercise classes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsRogers, KA, Ebbeck, V
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Pagination21 - 44
Date Published06/2015

Although significant research has explored self-conscious emotions, including shame, little has been done to examine shame in specific exercise settings, such as cardio-based exercise classes, that may actually promote the experience of shame. Therefore, using Shame Resilience Theory (SRT) as a guiding framework, the purpose of this study was to examine experiences among women with shame, and the shame-resistant attribute of self-compassion, in exercise, as well as identify possible strategies for creating a climate in cardio-based exercise classes that emphasises self-compassion over shame. An interpretative phenomenological analysis epistemology and methodology was used to analyse, understand, and interpret the meaning and lived experiences of shame and self-compassion among 15 women in cardio-based exercise classes. From the data collected during individual interviews, three superordinate themes emerged for both shame (‘I’m just not enough’, ‘There’s something wrong with me; I don’t belong here’, and ‘Shame moves in and takes over’) and self-compassion (‘The importance of relationships’, ‘Self-compassion makes me feel whole’, and ‘Self-compassion is so hard, but it’s worth it’), and four superordinate themes emerged representing the proposed strategies for creating a self-compassionate climate in cardio-based exercise classes (‘Talk about shame in the classroom’, ‘Create the right climate’, ‘Establish guidelines for instructors’, and ‘Learn to help yourself’). The findings of this study identify the elements in an exercise class setting that promote shame experiences, are consistent with SRT and Neff’s conceptualisation of self-compassion, and provide support for the role of self-compassion as a protective and shame-resilient mechanism.

Short TitleQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health