I wonder what it’s like to feel “in your element” at the gym. To walk in, shed your t-shirt, and strut on over to the free weights, all while staring at your perfectly toned reflection in the mirror. You casually chat with the girl who works at reception, smile at the guy next to you lifting 300 lbs, and casually do a few reps…just because it’s fun.
Me and the gym? We don’t get along. I don’t think there’s another place in the entire world where I feel more uncomfortable. First of all, before I even do anything, my body is squeezed like a lumpy sausage into high-waisted spandex and two sports bras. So I definitely don’t look the part.
And then I actually get on the machines. It’s not possible to describe how red I get when I run. There aren’t words in the English language. It’s like a tomato got a third degree sunburn and was also somehow sweating profusely while panting like a dog in 100 degree weather. My friend once asked me if I needed to go to the hospital after I got off the treadmill.
It’s that bad.
So yesterday I was stretching after running, and I thought I noticed a guy on the elliptical staring at (and judging) me in my sweat-soaked tanktop. I avoided all eye contact, looking down at the sticky mat. He let out a grunt of disgust, “Ugh, no!” I froze. Was he talking to me? Am I really that gross that you need to verbally express your disgust?
A few minutes later I walked by him and saw that he had been yelling at the TV screen. I guess he was a little too involved in his football game and forgot where he was.
That’s when I realized…everyone at the gym is in their own little world. I don’t pay attention to anyone else in the gym, so why would I assume everyone is paying attention to me? Nobody really cares what I’m doing. Nobody’s really that concerned with my (bright) red face.
And even if they were. Even if every single person in the gym was looking at me, and judging me, and thinking all the horrible things in their heads that I think about myself….well, they can just suck it up.
Because I may be overweight, I may be out of shape, I may look like I totally don’t belong in your macho / skinny space, but I’m here.
And it’s better that I’m out of place at the gym than right at home on my couch.