I have been always been a gym rat, meaning I thoroughly enjoy getting “swolled up” at a fitness center. I’ve been a tomboy all of my life, even in my days of fake nails and bleach blonde hair. I made my mom sign me up at Powerhouse Gym in Detroit as soon as I got my license and I spent a number of years hanging out and training with guys who most likely had shrunken testicles. I’ve belonged to a gym as long as I’ve lived in Asheville as well and while it’s a different city in a different part of the country, some things certainly remain the same, just on a smaller scale.
I’ve been a member of the Rush for a number of years now and it is a logical choice as I can spit from my house and hit it. Well, it’s not that close but it’s certainly in walking distance. It’s your typical big box gym, with ugly day-glo colors and really bad music. If you call them on the phone they are required to say “It’s a great day to feel the rush!” and when you leave, they do say, “Stay pumped!” Not every time but I’ve heard it enough times to justify making fun of it. And it makes it only funnier to hear it in a southern drawl. Don’t judge me, if you live in the South, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you are offended by this then I urge you to stop reading now…
I do not have any set schedule when it comes to working out. I go when I have the time and I try to go early in the morning or on the weekends. I enjoy the early morning workouts but I also love how dead it is on the weekend. The mornings are filled with people who are on a schedule, getting in before work and have a daily routine. The weekends tend to be filled with people who are more spur of the moment; the type who decided to go to the gym over say, seeing Les Miserables for the second time.
This last Sunday I was at the gym minding my own business as I tend to do. This is a small town and you just have to deal with the fact that you will run into people everywhere you go. I have no problem with this, even when you run into people whom you don’t care for or drive you crazy. So when I was approached by this first person, I took it in stride.
I was on the stationary bike and just happened to look up when our eyes met. There was no going back so I decided to do the polite thing and engage. It is highly unlikely said person will ever read my blog but I still need to make sure that I practice some discretion. Let me just say that no amount of peddling got me away from the situation. I will say however, that working out harder to become out of breath so you cannot speak to someone only helps your physique and nothing else.
I moved on to my chest and tri workout (that’s code for pectoral and tricep muscles for you lazy people.) I had two sets of weights with me, listening to some Southernplayalisticadillacmusic. I am usually sort sighted, just paying attention to my immediate surroundings and making sure I don’t get in anyone else’s way while I work out. So you can imagine that when I’m approached by this scrawny young guy I think that I have some weights or the bench he needs.
He approaches me as I have my right arm bent behind my neck, stretching my tricep muscle. I have my headphones on, basking in my early nineties hiphop and practicing restraint not to shake my ass to the music. This happens to me often while working out, having the need to resist dancing in the gym. Perhaps I should try one of the dance classes they have at the gym and just get it out of my system, even though it’s not my style. He starts talking to me while I have my headphones still on. I immediately assume he wants the extra set of weights I’ve been hoarding.
As I begin to take my headphones off I say, “I’m sorry did you want these 15 lbs weights?”
“No, I wanted to give you some advice on your technique.”
Now if there is one thing you should know about me it’s that I don’t take kindly to advice I didn’t ask for. Maybe this developed from hearing many diatribes from my mother that started with, “You know what your problem is? Because I do.” Which many years later I am eternally grateful for, but alas, I was not grateful for the advice from this early twenty something waif-like guy.
“I’m a massage therapist and I noticed that you are overextending your elbow with your stance.”
Have I mentioned that I worked out with a trainer for years? Also, said elbow had no weight on it as I was making sure to focus on tightening my core (that’s stomach muscles, just in case my parents are reading this.)
“I’ve seen people with joint problems after many years of doing what you’re doing.”
Me: “Are you finished?”
Scrawny massage therapist: “Yes.”
Me: “Okay, two things. First, I’m double jointed in my elbows and I have no pressure on said elbow that you think is over extended. Second, let me give you a tip. Before you give someone your unsolicited advice you might want to ask them if they want it first. Because I don’t give a shit about your opinion.”
His eyes grow wide. “Have a good workout.”
He turns to walk away as fast as humanly possible and trips over a free weight on the floor and falls on his face. I did not laugh outwardly but I have to say it was pretty damn funny.
I know this may have seemed harsh to some people but I saw it as a small victory. I know all too well about the intimidation of being in a predominately male world. All I could think about was that hopefully this guy would think twice before just offering his supposed expertise to a woman. I think it’s easy to just fall into the stereotypes that we were so used to growing up. This guy clearly thought I was new to working out and didn’t even think to ask me about my experiences before just offering up his guidance. I often see guys with bad techniques working out at the gym. Can you imagine if I walked up to them and said, “Let me show you how to do that the right way?” How would they perceive that? How would you perceive that?
Just food for thought. Stay pumped y’all…..