We all have our rants about “the gym”.
It’s crowded, smelly, noisy. People don’t share the equipment or don’t put it back when they are done. People don’t wipe down their sweat when they get up from a seat.
I agree with all of that. I’ve ranted a few times myself on this blog.
Last year, because of cutbacks in my expenses, I gave up my membership to a local swank gym and all of the perks and annoyances that come with it, and began using the small gym in my apartment complex because it’s free with my monthly rent.
It’s not been too bad, actually. It has fairly up-to-date equipment, lots of mirrors, functional treadmills, padded floors, and freeweights.
I guess it helps that I know how to properly structure my own workout; this gym doesn’t come with an option to purchase the time of a trainer. It also helps that I don’t mind working out by myself. I actually prefer it.
Today, however, forced me to see the flipside of being alone in a small gym environment.
The problem was: I wasn’t alone today. And it freaked me out a little.
I shared the tiny gym facility today with a rather scary-looking man.
I won’t go into why I felt scared. It could have been that I was truly alone in an enclosed area with him. It could have been his ethnicity. It could have been the way he was dressed; he looked like he had just traveled up from the other side of Austin. It could have been that I was just feeling vulnerable today.
It could have been all of those things.
While I tried not to let it affect my focus on the task at hand, nor the routine I had created in my head, I ultimately found myself doing two things almost immediately.
First, I began reviewing my routine and critiquing it for any sexually connotative activities. I had read a post or article several years ago, written by a man, suggesting that if women are going to come to a gym and do squats and downward dogs dressed in skin tight workout clothes and breathe heavily throughout that they have to be prepared to be lusted after in the mind of some men. OK, most men.
I have since then always taken that to heart. But, in a large gym where lots of people are around, it feels less dangerous. It is easier to blend into the background while doing squat thrusts or leg curling 80 lbs. and breathing like I just had an orgasm.
Today, in a small confined place with a scary looking guy, weighted squats just didn’t seem appropriate.
Second, I was overtly aware of my surroundings. I made sure I knew exactly where he was in the room, even if I couldn’t see him. He was humming to himself (he had earbuds in and was obviously listening to music), which made this task fairly easy.
When I was on the treadmill, with my back to 50% of the room and my peripheral vision only picking up about an additional 10%, I was elated when I realized that the way I had positioned my reflective sunglasses on the tray of the treadmill acted like a truck’s rearview mirror and gave me more than 180 degree view behind my back. No sneaking up could occur. My eyes darted back and forth between the timer on the treadmill and the mirror of my sunglasses.
Once I realized that I could see and could then be prepared for anything, I relaxed. And, the fact that there are cameras in there (but I questioned if they are actually functional) didn’t hurt.
I probably won’t go back to the gym at that same time anymore, just in case he is there. I’m not afraid but I just don’t need a stressed workout experience too often.
I don’t know; but, I think I will re-visit the idea of joining a “real gym”, if only to avoid this experience in the future.
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