The other day, Chris and I were walking out of the gym.
That girl is always here, he said pointing to a girl with long black hair and headphones, no matter what time I’m here, she’s here too.
I knew what he meant. Every time I go to the gym inevitably I see the same guy. And I’ve seen him at the gym for years. I don’t know his name, I don’t know anything about him and he looks pretty nondescript so I just call him “the guy I always see here.”
Thinking about it, there’s about a dozen gym personalities that I’ve seen, repeatedly, over the years. For better or for worse. The man who wears white spandex shorts, the creepy old tan guy who chews gum really fast, the woman who walks around in a jog bra and tights (ew), the skeleton woman who swims with a clear plastic shower cap, the guy who grunts on the treadmill and my all time favorite had to be the couple who worked out years ago in the weight room. The stripper and the meathead. We called her Boobalaroo and he called her babe. Clearly she was a stripper because, ok, we had no good reason to think she was a stripper other than woman’s intuition that the woman knew how to work a pole. She would do incline presses and meathead would stand over her shouting, “come on, big up for a big girl.” Months later she appeared pregnant in the weight room doing one-legged squats with him there shouting “come on, big up for a big girl.”
It was quite disturbing.
The list could go on and – keep in mind – that’s just on the gym floor. I haven’t even gotten to the pool yet. If I were to list the personalities of those who frequent the pool I would either make myself throw up or throw out my neck trying to mimic what the hell they are doing in the pool. I have seen some of the most comical, sometimes just plain…HUH!?... in the pool. From hygiene, to body hair, to swimsuits that really really really need to be retired, to the world’s largest cankles (record breaking), from shower caps to is that dude really wearing his underwear to that really can’t feel good.
We scanned the pool for a lane when Chris said, there’s the chick who swims really fast. For the record, she didn’t swim all that fast she just had a nice stroke and a graceful flip turn. We sat watching her on the edge of the hot tub when from the lockerroom, the girl who always wears fins started walking toward the pool so Chris said that we better get a lane. At first we had separate lanes then at some point we split a lane because the water aerobics class took over two entire lap lanes so three people could bounce around and walk laps. WALK laps. In the SWIMMING pool. We finished up in the lane next to the tall guy who swims pretty fast for swimming pretty bad. He always asks me how far I’m swimming, I tell him and then he always shakes his head.
As I returned to the lockerroom, I thought about him and the spooky guy who sits in the corner of the hot tub. And then I wondered about my gym personality. I’ve been coming here for years – 10 years to be exact – and I’m bound to have been noticed by others. If I’ve seen them, they’ve seen me and they’ve got to think something about the things I do here.
Standing by the suit dryer, it hit me.
I’m the girl that sometimes stands naked by the suit dryer.
How awful. HOW OBSCENE!
Do you know what this means? I’ve been called out. By myself! At that moment I was indeed standing nearly naked by the suit dryer. How could I be this person?
Suddenly I got very self-conscious about my new found identity. I fastened that towel around me as tight as it would go and went to my locker. I felt uncomfortable, like I had been found out and needed to rectify this. I can’t be known as naked girl that stands by the suit dryer. I want to be known as the chick with the killer abs or the girl who smells like vanilla. But this?
As I stood there trying on all the other identities I wanted, I realized who was in the locker bay. The mom and her daughter. I might be the naked chick, but these two – these two really disturb me.
It sounds nice enough – you have a mother and a daughter who work out together. That is fine. What is not fine is that routinely they are naked next to each other and carrying on an entirely normal conversation. This is not fine. You can talk about your vagina with your mom, you however cannot show it to her. Nevermind that you came out of hers, do not show mom the vagina.
All of a sudden I was no longer naked girl but girl who got dressed in 30 seconds flat and got the hell of out there. I really need to consider changing my locker request. Between the mom and her daughter and the woman who spreads the towel on the bench so she can sit naked on it who also wears a rubbery flowered swim cap – I have got to relocate.
I went up to the track to do some strength training. The indoor track was filled with runners tonight. Somewhere between a back extension and an upright row with tubing I heard something.
Oh it can’t be.
It’s the man who blows out while he runs.
No joke he actually blows air out very loudly as he runs in a HOO sound. Every. Single. Breath. Around the track. 11 laps to a mile. I look at him, note that he actually has decent run form too bad he sounds like a train choo chooing on the track. It was kind of like the woman who breaststrokes for an hour – you think to yourself, there is no way they will last more than 15 minutes so by the time they start annoying me they will be gone – no, he actually ran for about 30 minutes.
And HOOed each time.
I laughed about it as he went by and thought to myself that at least I don’t have to be running around with him.
But my husband was.
Speaking of which, husband. My husband who is probably known as the guy who always wears red shorts because he does. Every pair of running shorts he has – red. But as I watched him run around the track I realized his gym identity was much worse.
The dude who was skipping. Around the track. Several laps.
As the dudes on the basketball court shouted out FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!! from below, taking their game a little too manly and seriously, I watched my nancyredpants husband skipping around the track.
Stop looking at him, stop looking at him and if asked: I do not know this man. I am pretty sure my husband is playing basketball.
Around 6:30 pm I told Chris that I wanted another 30 minutes to attend a class. Our gym has dozens of classes and I want to start attending some. I think. Most of the classes have catchy names that I don’t understand but I was pretty sure I could handle “Pilates”. I’ve never been and always wanted to try.
I walked into the aerobics room and the teacher said we would need weights. Light weights – like 3 pounds. 3 pound weights? Other than holding paper down, what are we going to do with 3 pound weights? And….why? Then she started up the music, turned around and said welcome to Tonga.
Pardon me but WHAT the fuck is tonga?
It’s toning plus yoga. Ton-ga.
My first thought was at least it’s only 30 minutes. I can fake it for 30 minutes. I can do anything for 30 minutes.
Unless she tells me to Rock The Horse. Or do an Around The World. Or Grapevine.
In that case, I’m running out of here.
I faked it pretty good, thought about leaving but didn’t want to appear rude. Plus there were only 4 people in the class. She would totally notice me. I played along and held it together pretty well until she showed us how to Stir The Pot.
And that was about when I lost it.
I looked at myself in the mirror. There I was holding 3 pound weights which together made up the “spoon” with which I was stirring the pot. And, allegedly, working on my core. All set a version of Natascha Bedingfield's Unwritten overdosed on amphetamines set to a techno beat.
The rest is still unwritten.....
Oh no, I'm writing about it. I looked at myself in the mirror which only reflected the pure ridiculousness of it right back at me. I started giggling because the sight of it all was just too damn funny. Yes, if I’ve learned anything in the past two years, it’s how to keep a sense of humor about myself. To take it all a little less seriously. Because it’s all supposed to be fun. I’m not saying I’m above stirring the pot. I’m just saying if my husband walks by the window and sees me stirring the pot, he is going to be known at the gym as the man who shit himself.
The instructor turned around to change the music about 20 minutes into the class – the point at which the Toning switched over to Yoga making it Tonga. I took that as my cue. And became the girl who walked out of class early. I noticed Chris at the cable machine, done skipping, in his red shorts and shook my head at him.
I’m ready to go when you are.
Walking back into the lockerroom, I was almost run over by the woman with the wheeled suitcase before reaching the 250 bay. Naked woman who applies lotion to self gratuitously was standing at the sink. And the woman who swims in the shower cap just walked by. I felt compelled to drop my towel by the suit dryer but I resisted. Besides, I've got a reputation to keep. I'm going to be the girl who is married to the guy who skips. Which at least is better than the chick who tried (ha ha ha) tonga.
Not a word about Tonga, ladies. Not a word.
I have got to start coming to the gym at a different time.