It’s five o’clock on a Tuesday. I stand in my black workout pants, an old T-shirt, and the Nike sneakers I’ve had since the ninth grade. In front of me is a glass door that leads to the gym. It’s covered in flyers, old and new, sprouting information about the hours and quick workout plans. Through the door, is a spacious room with various sorts of grotesque equipment. Around the room are motivational posters, a wall lined with mirrors and another with storage space. Surprisingly, it doesn’t smell like sweat and the AC is on full blast.
Lately, I’ve spent a major part of my afternoons in the gym on my college’s campus. Sometimes I’m alone but usually I have some friends with me. When I walk into the gym, I feel an immediate wave of self-consciousness. My pants feel too tight, like they’re stretched too thin around my thighs and butt. The neck-line on my t-shirt is too constricting and my fingers are fidgeting with the ends.
I have a routine at the gym. A safe, consistent routine. I walk in and sign in. I put my bag into a cubby. I put headphones in my ears and turn the music up loud. I carry my water over to the elliptical and I select the weight-loss workout. Attached to the machines are TVs and so while music is blaring in my ears, my eyes are busy reading the captions on the Game Show Network(GSN). I watch people go through varied emotions as they play Deal or No Deal and I sweat right along with them—though of course, they are nervous and perhaps hot from the stage lights. I guess that is also true for me. Because although I should be completely distracted by my music, the tv, and maintaining my balance as I push myself as far as I can go—I’m not.
It’s very important that I stick to my routine in the gym. Through careful trial and error, I have found the exercises that make me the least uncomfortable. For example, I can use the elliptical and I can do a few of the leg machines, and arm machines but if I have to face the mirror—I can’t do it. If it contorts my body in an unusual way—I can’t do it. It’s not that I don’t want to do it but doing these things, or being asked to do them makes me panic and I start to feel trapped. I worry uncontrollably how it looks to the other, fitter people in the gym.
Realistically, I know that the other people could care less because they have their own things to worry about.
As the weeks go on I’m becoming more comfortable in the gym and am seeing results—I’ve lost four pounds already!! But no matter how often I go, panic is never far away. Although I may lose myself in the workout, it’s never for long. The escape is only momentary.
Until next time,