Wednesday, January 24, 2007




Sorry for the vulgarity, but...fuck.

Yesterday evening I drove to the gym feeling not so hot. It was a combination of a mildly upset stomach, fatigue, and wearing a pair of workout pants that were plastered tight enough across my ass that a keen-eyed observer would have been able to make out the slightly raised polka dots on my underwear, even though the pants themselves were not actually of the stretch variety (and at one point circa 2003, did not fit as such).

I walked in, sucked in my stomach and flashed a (hopefully) winning smile at Nerdy But Cute Gym Desk Attendant as I beeped in to the fitness center. Usually while I'm checking in I do a quick scan of the gym to ensure that the same evening exercisers are in their usual posts on the cardio equipment. There's generally five of us...The Misogynist Who Drives the Iroc-Z Without a Hint of Irony, The Preschool Teacher with the Lisa Loeb Glasses, The Guy Who Could Be In Rascal Flatts, Flatass, and me. They're my comforting group of separated or divorced individuals who have absolutely nothing better to do on weekdays (and most weekends) than watch close captioned Fox News and trudge silently forward in our attempts to look good naked. We do not converse, so our only communication comes in curt nods as we pass one another by the water fountain or the towel dispenser. Our bond is one of restraint and respect...none of us look that good, but we're all here to get better and to at least pretend that hanging out at the gym until closing time is tantamount to maintaining a proper social life.

Last night, things seemed to be very different and not in a good way. I glanced around the room, not seeing any of the other regulars and made my way to the locker room to hang up my coat. When I came back out to the cardio room, I stopped short; almost every piece of equipment was occupied, and not by anyone I even vaguely recognized at all. Instead, there was the oddest assortment of individuals I had ever seen in the rec center...a group of three young women pedaling furiously on recumbent bikes while wearing jeans and sweaters...a huge man, shaped like a caricature of a superhero running on the elliptical while having a heated discussion on his Bluetooth headset...teenage boys recreating that OK Go video on two treadmills in the corner...a superfit woman in her late forties wearing almost no clothing and sprinting so hard her feet beat a rhythmic tattoo twice as fast as mine while she never broke a sweat. I was so uncomfortable around these people, and for no good reason at all. I was grateful when my warm-up was over and I could get upstairs to my sweaty weights sanctuary.

I walked up the stairs, enjoying the rubbery weak sensation of my warmed-up legs and stopped short again. My precious, quiet, slightly smelly weight room was jam packed with men. Six, seven, maybe ten guys were slinging weights around and raucous laughter and baritone voices spilled down into the stairwell like some sort of college fraternity reunion party. Not another woman in sight, and I couldn't bear the idea of asking this many men to re-rack their weights so I could use the bench and the squat machines after them. I lost my nerve, did an about face at the top of the steps, and didn't stop walking until I reached my car.

I was SO mad at myself, not only because I got scared of nothing except unfamiliarity, but because I looked like such an idiot in front of all the people who saw me walk in and then leave ten minutes later. I'm not a huge fan of psycho-babble buzzwords like "comfort zone", but last night I was indeed pushed out of mine, and I couldn't handle it. Those first few nights of going into the gym and obsessing over whether my ass was disgusting as I walked on the treadmills, or whether someone would make fun of me for using the upstairs weights instead of the downstairs Nautilus machines resurfaced with a vengeance and I was just too tired and scared to deal with it right then.

Tonight I couldn't work out again because of meetings and a surprise family drop-in so now it's been three days--since Sunday--that I've had a proper workout and my body is screaming for some activity. I can feel the yearning in my muscles even as the rest of me is in protest because I'm so tired and still not 100% healthy. I hope these rest-up days will ultimately do some good for my overall physical condition, but for some reason I feel like I've mentally taken a step backwards in all of this. I really, really hope not.


Jeni said...

Love this post. I'm sorry you didn't make it through your gym trip, but this post was so relatable. I know this feeling so much, and I feel like it STILL happens to me almost every day.

Keep going though lady, you can do this!

P.S. I'm new to your blog, but I read through a couple of posts and really like it!

Jeni said...

Hey there. I'm new to your blog, but just wanted to tell you I loved this post. It's so relatable, and I'm telling you I STILL feel like this almost every day I walk into the gym. Even after more than a year of working out there continually.

Keep going lady, you can do this! I'll be reading.

Galen said...

I know what you mean Erin. Walking into the gym and you seem to be the only one who really needs it. That's my situation every time I walk into the 24 hour fitness near my home. Nice looking, very fit people working out like tomorrow will never come, people running marathons on the treadmills...yeah, it does suck.


Neverfear because the rest days will do you some good and if you are this pissed off about missing your workout days, then you have the right attitude and I have no doubt you will be back at the gym working up one hell of a sweat, no matter what type of person is on the machine next to you. I have faith in you that you WILL overcome and go on with your journey.

And if you need to rant, feel free to do so. That's what we are all here for on all of our blogs, to give support and to let each other blow off pent up steam.

Tomorrow is a better day.


Lori said...

Erin, boy, do I know how you feel. I have felt that way a lot of times. Usually at my gym, the gym-rats are downstairs and so it's newbies and basically everyone who is not a student and buffed x100.

I don't know what to do when guys leave 500 pounds of weight on the machine for me to try and unload. I'm sure as hell not going to get in their steroid/supplemented face and ask them.

But you just have to put on a shield of invisibility and the cape of "I don't give a fig" and go in and do what you can.

Those other people are annoying, weird and demented in their own way. That's good. It means they are in their own little world and you all can ignore each other.

And why is Fox News always on at every gym I've been at?

Your descriptions are hilarious and true. I wish you could down to my gym and do a similiar analysis.

Hang in there, try it again. Maybe these were the remnants of New Year's Eve resolutionistas.

Grumpy Chair said...

I have no advice, because I'm too scared to go to a gym, so I work out at home. But your writing is so lovely and detailed that I actually felt your unease. Sounds like it was a weird day at the gym, sort of like falling through a rabbit hole maybe.

I hope the gym "returns to normal" for you. You are doing very well.

I'm Fat said...

God, you sound like me. I would have done the exact same thing. Before, I probably would have let it get to me worse than you did. There are times when you have to make light of a situation sometimes. Now, I would have charged my fat ass into the weight room anyway. Guys love girls who are that "take charge" type. Hell, you probably would have had at least two or three helping you. Give yourself some credit. You are stronger than you think.

CactusFreek said...

This post is odd, and yet so familiar! I don't go to the gym because i hate waiting for equiptment. I like to do my cycle and move on, not letting my heart drop off completly while waiting in line for something. It just irritates me!

Lori said...

Erin, I went today and it was like Night of the Living Dead but with energetic bunny girls and boys and in a gym.

I thought of you and I forgot one word of advice: get surly.

Otherwise, you'll be waiting for someone to drop dead on a treadmill in order to use it.

It stinks and I don't like it either -- I can feel my stress level go way way up but it's the only solution.

BigAssBelle said...

well here it is. i wrote a comment here the other day and it didn't take. i think it was falling through the rabbit hole, as noted above. and isn't it funny when things are just a bit different, it can be so vexing. who the hell were all of those people? and why couldn't they just go home and get out of your way?

hope you are back by now sweating and lunging and breathing hard.

big hugs, pumpkin. hey! is the ice gone? are you all thawed out?

Jarrett said...

Get a partner. Not having one is the reason I quit going to gyms.