I remember that sunny first day we met. I was a barely legal, eager college freshman fresh out of a years-long relationship with organized sports. I was looking for something else, something new. You were a two-story behemoth, a state-of-the-art glass and cement mecca only costing me the courage to walk through those two sets of front doors.
At first things were grand. Sure, I saw the lines of sorority girls waiting for ellipticals on the second floor, but if I stayed mostly on the ground level I never had to cross their paths. Except waiting for a hand dryer in the bathroom when I was dripping sweat on the linoleum and their eyeliner was still somehow perfectly in tact. But I digress.
I’ll admit we had some sweet, sweet memories. In the tiny corner with the girl-sized free weights, it felt like it was just you and me sometimes. And the birthing/adductor machine positioned right in front of the mirrors made for some extra special supersets. You didn’t even bat an eye when I began bringing my blonde, affectionate buddy. Or followed him into the man weight room and did some chest presses.
You were good to me for a time, gym.
But times change.
The last two times we met up, it was different. The fluorescent lighting was distracting, not enticing. The floor to ceiling mirrors were intrusive, not convenient. The employees were pretentious, not perky.
I’ve always equated you with being healthy: if I just had that gym membership, I would automatically be living healthier. Even if we didn’t see each other for months at a time, the card hanging from my key ring would tell the world that I WORK OUT. Or, at the very least, I have access to a facility that provides fitness equipment on which I could perform exercises for the betterment of my physical appearance. How healthy is that?!
But alas, that card has not been scanned enough to pay for the gas it takes to come see you. And when I have made it there, I don’t feel like I belong any more. I fall into that forgotten age bracket between the majority of gym aficionados–not a spandex-clad 22-year-old and not a water-aerobicising 72-year-old.
From my inconspicuous perch on a second floor treadmill at this newest location, I took a good long look at my fellow Sunday afternoon constituents. I was disheartened. And entertained. Most work outs could be completed in half the time if gym goers would replace subtly flexing in the mirror with actually lifting heavy things. I guess they need to be absolutely sure those curls are working? Like, immediately. Someone also needs to kindly drop a map in the bags of all the men so that they learn to locate the leg machines.
It suddenly hit me that what I once saw as a communal space to honor and improve your body now felt like a temple designed to worship it. That’s not a religious service I’d like to attend, no matter how sculpted those deltoids look in your DIY cut off t-shirt.
And how is no one else sweating in here?!?!
Since it was already hella difficult for me to maintain a rational body image after having a baby, it no longer seems like an encouraging space to put myself in regularly. You make me feel uncomfortable, okay? I can’t wear mismatched clothes without feeling self conscious, make eye contact with anyone, or eat in front of you. That’s not very judgment-less, now is it?
I mean, I don’t like to cut and run, so of course we’ll see each other during the two month cancellation processing period. Just don’t get all desperate and try to change my mind with your smooth treadmills, ice cold water fountains and childcare. Oh, the childcare. That bright spot in the dark, toddlerhood-encroaching night. Must stay focused.
As you may have suspected, yes, there is someone else. I call it the garage. And a craigslisted weights set and pull up bar I’ve been cozying up to. The bells and whistles have lost their luster, and I’ve decided to downgrade from sprawling to simple. I hope that you’ll understand.
But even if you don’t, I’m going to need that $40 a month back.
Sweaty Hugs for Life,