If you know me, you know that I am a shamelessly unfit human being. Like my mother, my mother’s mother, my mother’s mother’s mother, and so on, I have inherited a hatred of perspiration. Oh, I love walking on a sunny day, but God help me if there is any incline in the terrain or if it’s a degree over 70. (Also, it is no surprise that my skin disintegrates upon contact with sunlight.)
So I avoid sweating at all costs, because it’s sticky and unpleasant, and I don’t need to look any grosser than usual. Exercise just happens to be a cause for sweat, so consequently I avoid any physical movement if possible.
These are sentiments I have held since puberty– the time in your life when you become painfully aware of how you look. It’s also when you become painfully more smelly. Anyway, I’m fortunate enough to look like a noodle, so exercise has never been something I was motivated to do.
That being said, I went to the gym last Sunday.
I know, I know; who am I? First, I’m cooking my own meals (oh yeah, that happened!), now I’m going to the gym? It’s like every covenant of laziness I’ve ever held is slowly slipping away. What next? Manually washing my own dishes? (I can guarantee that will never happen.)
So the strange part is that I was not threatened, I was not coerced or pressured into going to the gym, I was not held at gunpoint. I was actually quite willing.
That may be misleading. There was, in fact, a force at play. Homework. I guess the only thing worse than going to the gym is homework. Who knew, right?
My roommate frequents the gym, but has accepted the sloth in me and usually comes and goes without inviting me (trust me, no hurt feelings here). But on this particular Sunday, in brief passing, she commented that she and a mutual friend were working out; did I want to join?
At that point, the shifting, unstable mountain of textbooks, papers, and notebooks I sat atop of wavered beneath me as this thin rope of hope dangled in front of me. In a moment of rash decision, I jumped and clung to the rope, kicking off of my perching place, and the mountain of homework toppled into a landslide.
Which is all to say: I said, “Yes.”
But, being non-sporty, I don’t really have any athletic apparel. I didn’t want to wear shorts because it’s January, which means I haven’t shaved my legs since October (at best). The next best thing was these black leggings with “Love” bedazzled on them that I bought from Walmart in high school exclusively to wear to school and irritate a dress-code obsessed teacher. They were 3/4 length leggings, so only part of my hairy legs were on display. In addition to this, I own no tennis shoes. I do have black work shoes, but they’re really more for standing and not slipping. So I wore my Converse, which I later learned is a major oddity at the gym.
Anyway, as I was gearing up, my boyfriend overheard from my roommate that I was going to the gym. His response: laughter. “Why’s that so funny to you?” I (admittedly) screeched. My reaction caused his laughter to become uncontrollable. I left.
Along the way, my roommate and I met up with the aforementioned mutual friend. The worst part about my university’s rec center is that it’s on the outskirts of campus. Which means you have to walk about 50 million miles to get there. I immediately grew annoyed with the whole “walking” charade and suggested taking the bus, but this idea was quickly declined. (Apparently 50 million miles is a lot shorter to someone who works out.)
When we finally entered the rec center, my skin broke out in hives and I began twitching. Despite this physical rejection, I powered forward, chanting “Mind over matter,” and succeeded in my fitness goal of checking into the rec via showing an employee my student ID. I felt that I had done enough for the day, but my roommate and friend are evidently superheroes and were not exhausted from checking in at all, so I gave in, too fatigued to argue.
We found a nook with a bunch of little cubbies to put our coats and backpacks, which was fun because I hadn’t used a cubby since elementary school. Unfortunately, the makeshift gym clothes I was wearing didn’t have any pockets, and I didn’t want to leave behind my water or phone or chapstick or book or some tissues because you can never be too prepared, so I just tucked most of them in the waistband of my leggings (obviously not the water bottle though). I will admit this looks goofy in excess, which is why I practiced this in extreme moderation with only a few items instead of dozens.
Well, everyone at the rec immediately knew I wasn’t a gym rat because I wasn’t wearing Nike shoes. Even the average-looking, non-buff, beginner athletes had Nike shoes. Even the people who were apparently unfit had Nike shoes. Even the employees had Nike shoes. Even the janitor had Nike shoes!
Another thing that didn’t help me blend in was my evident consternation with gym equipment. I made sure not to walk too close to any of the large contraptions that look like they could decapitate you if you weren’t careful.
My roommate is a savant of the gym, so she went off and did her own workout thing while our friend and I went upstairs to the spin bikes (which was a long and unexpected journey in itself, walking up stairs). Now, I just want to mention that I only knew what a spin bike was because my roommate told me I’d probably like them and gave me a map to their location. The name is very misleading, though. The only spinning involved in a spin bike is the spinning of the pedals, which is no different than a normal bike.
So, I sat down on the thing, slowly feeling it out as if it were a temperamental animal I was about to mount. (I fully expected to be thrown off of it in utter rejection at any moment.) I started pedaling for a while until I realized I needed to turn it on, because I guess bikes are robots too now. Things got very boring very fast, which is when I realized I didn’t bring any headphones and so I was just gawking at other people for entertainment, awkwardly watching them sweat and work harder than me. (Poor bastards. I wonder if they know they don’t have to work out?)
But suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by a weird warming sensation beading around my hairline: a moist atrocity I hadn’t experienced in many months. When that sweat began to form, and I heard the song from Star Wars Phantom Menace when Obi Wan and Qui Gunn are fighting Darth Maul, I decided it was time for a necessary break.
I figured out that when you’re done with exercise equipment, you’re supposed to locate a spray bottle and towel and wipe off the parts where you touched so you don’t contract nasty sweat diseases from strangers or vice versa. (I guess sweating is contagious. Luckily, I don’t sweat.) So I used the crusty community sweat towel and cleaned off my bike. Honestly, I think the towel made my bike more germy, but I don’t make the rules. (I should, though.)
My roommate was still doing her thing at this point so I was bored and did some laps around the track (walking laps). It’s funny because the two inner lanes are specifically reserved for “walkers” while the outer lanes are designated for “runners.” Sometimes when another person’s walking too slow, you’ll see a faster-walking walker pass a slower-walking walker on the left. I think everyone should be given little bike horns to hold when they’re on the track so they don’t have to waste their breath telling the old lady wearing a TEA Party shirt to move over because her power-walk is too slow.
Eventually when my roommate was done torturing herself, she found me and asked if I was done (which of course I was). After we got our stuff from the cubbies, the three of us went to the snack bar area, where they sell water (for the price of tuition) and smoothies (for the price of a 401K) and sandwiches (for the price of your soul). I regretfully declined their concessions, as I am poor and therefore willing to starve when the situation arises.
Anyway, I went home and had a gallon of ice cream to make up for all the physical movement and further ignored my homework by watching Say Yes to the Dress for five hours.
All in all, it was a decent experience. I would definitely go to the gym again in order to avoid homework. I would recommend visiting the gym in lieu of homework to a friend. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the greatest, I would say my gym trip was an 8 for effectively procrastinating in regards to my studies.