Being Fat and Joining “The Gym”

I’m pretty sure the last time I went to a gym, I was a healthy weight, but I didn’t like it then either.  The leering.  The smell of other people’s sweat mixed with chlorine from the pool.  I don’t remember everyone being smelly when I was in gymnastics, but maybe it was because it was mostly girls.  The sport appealed to me because it was fun and it was exercise in short spurts.  I get overheated very easily because I hardly sweat.  The only benefit really is that my face turns so red, people think I’m going to die, so it gets me out of doing stuff.  😛  When I go hiking, I can’t resist the urge to pour the majority of my water on my head though, so I’m sad I don’t enjoy doing it.  I used to walk to work in shorts and a t-shirt in the snow and I still got too warm.  The good news is, if I were tossed overboard, I would probably survive much longer than most people.


This is me after walking two miles in 70 degrees the other day.  I dumped half my water bottle on my head and I’m sure everyone who drove past me must have thought I was the sweatiest woman alive.  The picture doesn’t do it justice.  My head was throbbing and I felt sick to my stomach.  I would love to be one of those people who loves the sun, but I don’t.

I’ve been doing a fitness challenge with eleven other women for the past six weeks.  There are multiple ways to gain points and you are assigned a partner.  There are both team and individual prizes.  One of the ways we could earn points was to walk or run 26.2 miles over the six weeks, but there would be three bonus points for whoever went the most, two for 2nd place, and one for 3rd place.  I thought, “Uh huh.  Have fun, skinny running ladies!”  I knew I could get my 26.2, but as far as getting the most?  Impossible.  I’m not a runner.  On a good day, I can do a mile in 20 minutes.

I was plugging away at my miles when my partner pointed out that I was in 2nd place.  I was?!  She was most definitely in 1st place.  I couldn’t understand why the other women weren’t wasting me.  If she could get 1st and I could get 2nd, that would mean five extra points for our team!  I started to push it hard, wondering just how much my body could tolerate before I might get shin splints or a stress fracture.  When I was a teenager and was skinny, I once got shin splints from one day of walking, so this made me nervous.

A couple weeks ago, I was 25 miles ahead of one friend and then the next week she did 50 miles!  She was then 10 ahead of me.  I didn’t think it would be possible for her to pass my partner, but she did.  We spent the last week losing our minds and expecting our families to tolerate all neglect in exchange for the pursuit of more miles.  Miles were all that mattered.  “You want dinner?  I’m sure you realize that interferes with my miles.”

Then an unexpected heat wave came.  90 degrees!  Unable to even sit outside doing nothing, I started running back and forth in my back yard, dipping my head in the kiddie pool repeatedly.  I was still miserable.  How on earth was I going to get anywhere close to what I did before?  I needed somewhere air conditioned.  But where?

The gym.

Noooooooooo!!!!  I really didn’t want to, but I realized if I got a three day guest pass, it would end just in time for the heat wave to be over.  I had no intention of actually joining the gym or confessing to George that I was most likely never joining the gym and that I was on a quest for the second most miles in a challenge.

George:  So what are your goals?  (What are anyone’s goals when they join a gym?!)

Me:  I want to be stronger, have more energy, and lose weight.  (My goal is to use your gym for three days while I’m too wimpy to work out outside and continue my selfish obsession with getting more miles than other people.  Your gym smells like B.O.)

George:  When’s the last time you had your BMI tested?

Me:  I haven’t.

George:  OK, so and so (don’t remember the name) will work out with you on your first visit and he’ll test it.

Me:  I really don’t want to do that.

Like I want some 20-year-old hard body judging my morbid obesity.  People can clearly see a large amount of my body is fat.  I don’t need a test.  I shop plus size, I have a scale, my doctor has a scale, and I have a smack talking grandma who seems to detest obesity above all else.  I’m somewhat good at math.  If you doubled your normal weight, then you can guess that your BMI is at least 50%, which is depressing!  I already know I need to lose weight.  Because my grandma told me so.  Ha.  Hahahahaha.  Until then,  I thought all normal size clothes in the world shrank a lot.

George had a gadget that I’m guessing probably tests one’s BMI, but he put it away because I think I was looking at him like, “Don’t. Even. Try. George.”

I knew what would happen after having my BMI tested.  “Your BMI is 64%.  Clearly you need to join the gym.  You could die.”

George:  What’s your address?  What’s your phone number?  What’s your current weight?

I knew I was going to have to go through a painful spiel just to try out the gym for a few days, but gym recruiters?  Have you noticed you don’t have a ton of fat people at your gym?  Maybe they don’t want to tell you their weight.  I didn’t want to tell George my weight.  I don’t even like to tell my husband my weight!

Me:  I want to give this a try and see how it goes.

George:  You need to say that you are going to do it or it’s not going to work.  I’ve heard all the excuses.  People have so many excuses.

Uhhhhhh ….. I meant trying out that particular gym.  Not that I wanted to try exercising.

Me:  I want to see how I like this gym.  I’m dedicated to exercising.  I’ve already lost weight on my own.  I just need a cooler place to do it.

He told me I actually had the option of doing a temporary membership for a few months if I wanted.  Hmm.  That was sort of tempting at the moment.  George noticed I was all dressed to work out and said, “I guess you can start right now.”  I said, “OK!”  I was determined to get miles ASAP.

We went upstairs and he showed me how to work a few things.  I got on the elliptical for a bit and shortly thereafter I complained, “This isn’t tracking my miles!  Why isn’t it tracking my miles?”  I got on two more machines before I finally found one that worked.  Ten minutes of horrible exercise for nothing!  I turned around and realized there was a railing behind me.  All of the muscle men downstairs could see my rear end while I was working out!  I quickly moved to a treadmill that had a wall right behind it.

I came back later with my own towel (they don’t have towels) so I could go swimming. I walked through the first floor and got a lot of weird looks from people with perfect bodies.  Looks that seemed to say, “Yeah ….. You should have started working out like 20 years ago.”  Some people like to cheer you on when you’re losing weight.  Others are disgusted that you let yourself get that way in the first place.  These are probably the same people who tell themselves, “My child will never act like that.  My baby will never sleep in my bed.”

I worked extremely hard during those three days, but it couldn’t be over soon enough.  I found more welcoming people in the pool who were elderly, disabled, or overcoming an injury.  Maybe I need a pool membership.  Swimming doesn’t involve making my fat jiggle in front of super toned strangers.

I mentioned that I had the urge to laugh every time I told the kids, “I’m heading to the gym!”  My son admitted, “It was funny, but I didn’t want to be rude and laugh.”

I like fun exercise like dancing, tennis, swimming, etc.

I don’t like feeling like a hamster on a wheel in a room that smells like armpits.

I like fresh air.

I like walking with friends (as long as it’s not hot enough for me to get heat stroke).

I’m not convinced the cleansing solution they provide for the equipment works as well as it should.

I’m weirded out by young men who are at the gym in the middle of the day, checking out each others’ muscles.  I tell myself I should be kind and assume they work graveyard or swing shift rather than believing they live in their mothers’ basements and are finally hitting the gym after waking up at noon because they stayed up so late playing video games.  It’s not nice to judge people, self!

I hate walking by groups of young men who are at the gym in the middle of the day and hearing them laugh even though none of them said anything funny.  Hard not to assume they were making gestures towards me regarding my overweight state.

I also can’t stand high pressure sales.  Every day when I was in the pool, I could see through the window if George was currently talking to anyone or not.  As soon as I saw he was busy, I would make my getaway.  I knew he would corner me and ask me if I was joining or not, but I managed to escape.  I’m sure it won’t be long before he calls.

How should I respond when George asks if I’m joining the gym?

a.  I am joining the gym!  (No, this answer is unacceptable.)

b.  I’m trying out another place before I decide.

c.  I was totally using you and I won the fitness challenge I was in!  Thank you!  I will be swimming the rest of the summer in a lake for free.

d.  No thanks.  People give me rude looks.  I’d rather work out in the privacy of my own home where my toddler will eventually tell me like it is for my motivation.  Example:  My son once asked me when he was about 3, “Hey mom?  What’s that on your boobs?  Is that a butt?”

e.  You have the wrong number.  Everyone in this house has a gym phobia.

f.  Other.  Please explain.






One comment on “Being Fat and Joining “The Gym”

  1. Kathryn Wright says:

    you should answer George with C. Definitely C. And maybe tack D on at the end.

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