Like so many others, I am thinking the new year is a good time to recommit to exercise. Health clubs are full this time of year.
Many won’t make it ’til Valentine’s Day before they drop off.
But Lindy West isn’t a hit it and quit it gym member. She wrote a sassy, funny, inspiring article on Jezebel headlined, “Hello, Fellow Gym-Goers, Look at My Fat Butt.” It says in part:
For the bazillionth time, it is known, I am pretty fat. We have covered this. And yet, contrary to popular belief, I sometimes participate in non-fat activities such as exercising, enjoying a crispy salad, not crying, wearing a pencil skirt, and not reclining under the gravy spout all day while I wait for Jerry Springer to de-fuse my giant butt from my toilet. It’s true! Go ahead and verify it! E-mail my mom! I will wait.
…See? ‘Kay. So, for yeeeeeears, before I shacked up with an artist and signed a really expensive (but totally worth it) lease, I used to go to the gym every day. I worked out with a personal trainer. I went to classes. I showered in public. And it was really, really fucking difficult—but not for the reasons you might think.
The more I exercised, the more I loved it. I felt strong and lean, I had tons of energy, I slept like a brick. But my body didn’t look much different. You’d still see me on the street and read “fat person.” And as a fat person, going to the gym is doubly challenging. There’s the basic challenge we all face—of getting the fuck out of bed, finding a clean sports bra, physically moving your body toward a place where a man will yell at you until you do enough lunges (IT DEFIES ALL EVOLUTIONARY LOGIC)—but for fat people, there’s an even more intimidating challenge on top of that.
It’s entering a building where you know that every person inside is working toward the singular goal of not becoming you.
I’ve worked out in some nice New York City gyms and been intimidated by how aggressively good looking the patrons are. When I work out, I sweat profusely, I don’t have the greatest sense of balance and I make funny faces. But I think exercise, like sex, requires you to get over yourself a little or you won’t get the most out of it.
I’m not wearing a super-cute-super-expensive exercise ensemble? So what, I don’t go to the gym for a fashion show, chica. I’m there to work off that extra glass of wine.
My pal Lara wrote a related post about how discovering her love of spinning meant being willing to be a beginner. Her headline: Let’s All Look Like Asshats! She writes:
Can I just tell you? I WAS SO SCARED. Holy crap.
I mean, I really didn’t want to go. And also? I didn’t have a friend to go with me, so I was winging it solo. And having never done this before, I didn’t really know what to expect.
If you’ve seen my posts about Ypsi Studio before (which is where I work out), you know that my gym is a really community-oriented place. Well, imagine being on the OUTSIDE of the community and walking into a space where everyone knows everyone — except you. YOU are the outsider. And you are here to do something you’ve never done before.
Holy fishsticks, I was petrified. I was going to look like an asshat. And be on the outside of a tight group of people while I did it.
I’d love to tell you I didn’t look like a struggling newbie that first time on the bike. But I kind of did. I mean, everyone looks like a struggling newbie in their first ever indoor cycling class. But that’s kind of part of trying something new. You’re going to not look like a total professional for a while.
In college, a few of us from the college newspaper staff took an aerobics class a coworker of us taught. I didn’t own gym shoes or a sports bra and I’d never done aerobics in my life, but off we went to support our friend — well, some of us were there to support our friend, one was there to try to date her.
And in spite of us all looking sort of uncoordinated and ridiculous, not having any idea what we were doing, he succeeded! They’re married with kids now. So love is one possible outcome of suiting up for a new exercise regime.
But so is feeling better. Or looking better. Or just demonstrating to yourself that you’re worth spending time and money to take care of.
Let’s hear it for the people wobbling through their first yoga classes, the newbie runners hoping to make it 10 minutes without passing out, the fat butts getting off the couch and going to the gym, regardless of what others might think.
Categories: health and well being