I am in the gym, running on the treadmill. I have it set at 4.5. I glance over and the guy next to me is running at 8.5. I am sure he thinks I am a loser. I put my towel over the top of the treadmill so he can’t see my speed. I wonder what I look like running. Probably pretty bad because I have on these new shorts and they keep riding up my inner thighs. I keep having to put my hand between my legs to pull them down. Some old lady walks by and tells me to get a room.
I choose to ignore her and let myself get carried away with my music. I love listening to the Spice Girls on my Walkman. Unfortunately I accidentally start singing out loud. I mean, really out loud and the guy running next to me stops his treadmill and glares at me until I take off my headphones
“Would you mind?! Not everybody wants to hear that stupid song, especially not with your glass shattering voice. My dog can sing better than you.” Oh my god, I want to die. Obviously I am uber embarrassed and I somehow lose my footing and I slip on the treadmill and go flying off of it. So now I am on the floor, blood dripping from my chin (where I hit the deck) and the guy on the treadmill is pointing and laughing hysterically. I get up and walk to the water fountain to clean my bloody chin and two girls who probably weigh about 115 pounds between them walk by wearing head to toe lululemon workout gear. “Oh my god, have you seen that girl’s shorts? They are horrible. I wouldn’t be caught dead in something so 1997. Plus she is way too fat to wear something so short.” Now I have started to cry. Silently because I am still in public, but crying nonetheless.
I make my way over to the free weights area to do some bicep curls. Unfortunately there are no benches and so I sort of find a spot away from the main weight area but still in front of the mirrors. There is some massive man probably called Biff next to me lifting ninety pounds and he is grunting. In what seems like amazing difficulty, he lifts the weights up one last time and drops them hard on the floor in front of me. ”Ahhh!” I scream because he scared the living daylights out me. Now everyone is looking at me. ”Jesus lady, I’m trying to workout here. If you can’t stand the fire, get out of the kitchen. This ain’t no place for wimps.” Uh oh, I am crying again. Plus those two girls are sitting on the inner/outer thigh machines and laughing manically. I am sure Biff is the boyfriend of one of them and I silently pray he has crabs.
The maintenance man comes over and tells me I have broken the treadmill. Two older men sitting on benches laugh and tell me I need to get rid of some junk in my trunk. The maintenance man tells me I will be charged $3000.00 for a new treadmill.
A woman’s voice on the loudspeaker booms out, “Who is the owner of the 1996 Honda license plate EF13H6? (Me!) You parked in a handicap zone (I would never on purpose!) and there is a bus of handicapped children who need to come in for their swimming lesson. The fire department has towed your car and you will have bad karma forever!”
I run up to the front desk just as Brad Pitt and Angelina walk into the gym. Brad starts pointing at my feet and giggling. ”Um, miss, you have some toilet paper stuck to your shoe.” I look down. Sure enough, I do. About two feet of it. Angelina looks disgusted. She is five feet, eleven inches. She is very thin. She really is that beautiful in person. I realize it is now time to go home and eat everything in my kitchen. In fact I think it might be the day to eat everything at Happy Donuts too.
There you go. That is my gym fear.
Everybody who comes into the gym has a little bit of fear. It’s absolutely natural.
It’s crazy intimidating in the gym. All those so-called fit people, all those weird space age-looking machines. Those giant, way too big for comfort mirrors, loud music, perky nineteen-year-olds. People aren’t in their element and there is some unwritten made-up in our brains law that says you can’t come in until you are already in shape. Well that law is absolute rubbish.
Even the people who you think are in really good shape are afraid. They are just as insecure as the rest of us. You know what they are doing at the gym? Thinking about their triceps. They are so focused on their triceps they have no idea that you are lying on the treadmill bleeding.
“Nobody is thinking about you. They are thinking about themselves, just like you.”
It is so easy to get caught up in the wonder of what other people are thinking. Am I too big/small to be here? Am I using this machine wrong? Are my clothes right? Is my water bottle trendy?
And then there are the fears of actual danger. Will I fall off the treadmill? Am I injuring myself? Can my knees take this? Will I die if my heart rate goes this high?
Hey everybody, it’s all good. That’s what the personal trainers are there for. Ask them. They are the only people who are looking at you and they are there to help.
The gym should be a safe place. A place you go to get healthier. We’re all in this together. Everybody there is there for the same reason you are: to be healthier, whatever that means to you. So don’t worry about them and if you worry about you, come talk to me.