Ahh the gym.
As a former college athlete (with a degree in Health and Kinesiology), I really shouldn't feel uncomfortable in a place of fitness. I find the assortment of machines neither intimidating nor confusing; the various lifting techniques, the correct amount of weight to use as well as the proper form are all familiar friends of mine. Not to brag or anything, but I seriously know my way around a gym.
So to be honest, it's not the equipment at the gym that causes me discomfort; it's the people.
See, to me, a fitness center is the adult version of a junior high gym class; except with a much more brutal sense of reality and considerably less supervision. You've got all your basic cliques, usually stereotyped by their clothing choice: the meatheads (wearing a tank top, usually in some shade of flourescent green or yellow), the gym rats (in their sleek and techy exercise gear), the nerds (in jean shorts, glasses and "Real Men Read" t-shirts), the self-concious wallflower (in the baggiest t-shirt they could possibly find) and last but not least, the gym hottie (in, well, pretty much nothing).
What group am I in? I'm probably a cross between the gym rat and the self-consious wallflower. I workout with a purpose, but I'm by no means a marathon runner. I also lack the breathable, moisture-wicking clothing, high tech accessories, and unwavering bravado that typically personifies a gym rat. In short, I'm there to complete my workout as efficiently and quickly as possible and I feel no obligation to look nice while doing it, which typically makes my encounter with anyone from one of these previously mentioned cliques potentially traumatizing. Especially the gym hottie...which is exactly what happened this morning.
You all know who I'm talking about. The girl with the perfect figure, flawless hair and gorgeous tan who just sort of strolls through the gym, lightly drinking from a water bottle (and accidently spilling some down the front of her low-cut v-neck shirt). She glides from one piece of machinery to another, casually flirting with any man possibly using it:
Hot Girl: Wow, what's this? I've never seen one of these before!
Guy: Um...that's a bench.
Hot Girl: Oh my god, you're so funny! You think you could you show me how to use it?
Guy: Ohhh yeeeaah....(mentally high-five's himself).
So besides the unoriginal pickup line (read it in Cosmo), the serious lack of clothing (sports bra top) and the obvious ulterior motives, this girl was doing one more thing that was annoying the bejeezus out of me: standing next to me.
Now I'm just like any other female out there. When I see my own reflection in a mirror I am going to compare it with whatever else is caught in the same reflection. If I'm lucky, it's a woman in her mid-80's, or maybe some sort of plant, in which case my self confidence doesn't take too much of a hit. But when it's Gym Hottie standing right next to me, my heart sinks.
Here I am, in my two sizes too big, "Cat's of America" cutoff t-shirt, my 4 year old worn-to-the-nub tennis shoes, my hair sweaty and frizzy and my face a slight shade of purple, busting my butt to try and make some sort of progress toward my fitness goal. And there she is standing next to me, twirling her luminous hair, batting her heavily mascara-laden eyelashes, and adjusting her weight from one mile-long leg to the other. Talk about an ego blow.
But, as I continued my routine, I noticed something else. She wasn't just standing next to me, she was staring at me.
"I bet she's wondering where I got my 'Cat's of America' t-shirt, " I jokingly thought to myself, although deep down I was actually wondering if she was mentally comparing me to the "before" picture of any recent diet pill ad. I saw her pick up a 5 lb weight, stare at it for a second, look in my direction, put the weight back down, and slowly saunter over to guy standing near the leg press.
Then it hit me.
She may be the gym hottie, but she had not idea what she was doing. She was staring at me because she felt clueless. She was the odd one out.
I was the one who belonged.
Suddenly my perception of the sweaty girl in the mirror changed. I began to look at myself differently. I've got firm legs and toned arms, and the sweat dripping from my face is a sign of how hard I'm willing to work for what I want, not something to be ashamed of. While I may not be the gym hottie or have the most up to date clothing and accessories, I realized I have other characteristics worth noticing. I'm disciplined and focused, capable and strong. I'm here, investing in myself and striving to reach my goals, day after day, regardless of any perceived setbacks or obstacles. Therefore, I believe I belong to an entirely different category of gym goer altogether, and one that hands down trumps the gym hottie:
I, ladies and gentlemen, am an athlete.
Gym Hottie: 0
What obstacles do you guys face at the gym?
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