They Told Me So

So they were right, I am enjoying going to the gym.  I still feel ridiculous and like I don’t know what I’m doing.  But I’m making some progress and making myself go even when I don’t feel like it.  Mostly.  I missed a couple days last week during the four day migraine of hell.  I made it through a workout the first day, didn’t feel up to it the second, and thought I could handle it the third, thought maybe it would help.  After half an hour on the elliptical I was ready to either pass out or vomit so I decided to cut the session short and go home.  What I like best about exercising is that my brain mostly shuts up during it.  I’m not worrying about work or writing, not pondering the great problems of the world.  I just shove my earphones in, turn on the iPod and try and slip away from myself.

The mirrors everywhere don’t help.  I don’t want to watch myself exercising, I don’t want to watch myself period.  The only sports I was ever any good at were horseback riding and fencing, and neither of them involve checking yourself out in a mirror.  A man staring at himself in the mirror as he lifts weights may be checking his form, but it looks like Narcisis entranced by his bicep curls.  When I’m at the gym I’m out of my head for an hour, concentrating instead on the physical, on the feeling of my muscles flexing and relaxing.  Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror snaps me back and reminds me of the clumsy girl who was always picked last for teams in PE.  I stop enjoying the feeling of my body being able to do what I’m asking of it and start feeling embarrassed at being such a dork.

I want to know when the normal girls go to the gym, because all the ones I see there are already in perfect shape.  When I’m next to a blonde fembot who looks like she belongs in a sorority house, I have to remind myself that everyone starts somewhere to keep from rolling my eyes and giving up.  The men at the gym fall mostly into gay and/or muscle bound, or scrawny hipsters who look like they could break into “I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK” at any moment.  It’s not just the abundance of facial hair, some of them wear wool knit caps while working out. Does keeping your head warm burn extra calories?  There are a few guys who lift weights in their jeans, which makes me feel less subversive about my Converse.  There’s one trainer really working the lumberjack look who trains his clients in tshirts and jeans.  He’s really cute, but my skinniest jeans would fall off his assless body, so that’s a wash.  As a friend once elegantly put it, “If you can fit in my pants, you won’t get in my pants.”

Then there are the muscle heads.  Literally.  The other day I saw one guy wearing some kind of leather headgear with a chain hanging from it so he could suspend a weight from it.  I don’t know what muscle that strengthens, but I think I’ll do without.  I’m not lifting many things with my head these days.  There’s been an increase in grunting lately.  The ladies’ locker room is right next to the weights, so when you’re changing you’re subject to a disembodied chorus of agony.  Or ecstasy.  Either way it’s disconcerting.  There’s also a good amount of hanging around and gossiping, which is fine unless they’re wasting time on a machine I want to be using.  I don’t want to chat or make friends.  I want to get in, turn off my brain, go through my routine, and get out.

I look at the fembots and wonder if I could ever achieve that level of fitness, have washboard abs and zero body fat.  I’m sure I could, given enough time, or upping my gym time to an hour twice a day.  And cutting out even more from my diet than I already have.  But I wouldn’t enjoy it.  I just want my small waist back, and to get my legs in good enough shape to once again wear inappropriately short skirts.  A strict to-the-knee dress code in high school left me unable to wear anything that long once I graduated.  One of my guy friends in college once told me that another guy had identified me as “the one with the legs.”  I want to be that girl again.  Hence the photo. That’s what I’m working towards, not being a woman in great shape, but a woman with a great shape who owns it.

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March 5, 2010. Tags: , . Life, the universe, and whatnot.

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