Monday, August 15, 2011

Y'all, I went to a real gym and sweated real sweat.

When Dad asked me if I wanted to go to the Wellness Center with him, I knew I had to make a decision. It's not that I hate exercising, or sweating, or being tired. But being out of breath sets my body into panic mode; it's the same reason I don't take hot baths.
On the other hand, my parents are trying to stay healthy and I knew that if I accompanied my father, he'd have one more reason to go. So I bucked up and took the plunge.
"That sounds great, Dad. Give me a minute to get ready," I called down the stairs.
Then the real crisis began: crisis of mind. I had never been to a gym to work out. I've exercised in my own home or outdoors, but this gym territory was foreign to me. I racked my brain. How could I make myself look the least like an outsider?
Clothing. This was a particular challenge since I usually just do abs in my pajamas. I dug to the bottom of my drawers and this is what I came up with:
A dry fit shirt, purchased two years ago for a wilderness trek I endured as a mandatory event for a class. Worn maybe twice.
A pair of sofee shorts, which appeared in my drawer after some sleepover and have been collecting dust ever since.
A pair of socks with a Nike swoosh on them, which I scavenged from the trashcan this past year on dorm moveout day.
My tennishoes, lightly used after five years of ownership.

My costume donned, I pulled my hair back in a ponytail that was higher than I've worn in years and silently wished for one of those elastic headbands that cool soccer girls wear. Or a sweatband at least. People wear those, right?
I walked downstairs and looked down at the snack I had set out earlier for myself. Two graham crackers. Better eat just one, I thought, since I haven't yet built up an immunity to stomach cramps.
I decided to bring my iPod, because from my observation, people who listen to music during workouts look much more intense. But I couldn't find my earbuds anywhere. My usual headphones, huge padded Sony's, would be a dead giveaway to my outsider status, so I snagged a pair of airline earbuds, straightening out the curves in the cord from where it had been shrinkwrapped, hoping no one would notice.
On the car ride over, I made a mental layout of the gym. (Before I was old enough to stay home alone, I used to go with my parents when they played racquetball, but I would just read in the Children's center. I intentionally left my book at home this time to eliminate the temptation.) I called to memory the location of the elliptical machines and my mind created the quickest mapquest route through the weights and the bowflexes, hoping my knowledge of the floor would make me look like a regular pro.

As soon as I stepped into the gym, I realized how silly I had been. Most of the constituents of the Wellness Center are 45-and-older New Year's Resolution members who are in too much agony over their own workout to be worried about anyone else's.
We only had about half an hour before closing, so I ran about 3 miles on the machine and did some abs. Totally fine. No one cared.

On the ride home, I contemplated what my own actions had said about me. There's the obvious: I care too much about what people think when most people are too worried about themselves to worry about me.
But I came to another conclusion as well.
Sometimes, I spend more time trying to give the semblance of proficiency than actually working to become proficient. Take the mornings where I debate with myself over whether or not to shower. I spend five minutes in front of the mirror trying to see if I will need a shower. I spend five more minutes washing my armpits and face, because they must be cleaned no matter what. I spend ten minutes trying to do my hair in a way that will not betray the grease. I spend five more minutes examining my reflection to see if I succeeded. I could've taken two showers in this amount of time.
If it's worth enough to me to try to look like I'm doing something, it's follows logically that the thing must be important to me, so shouldn't I spend my time actually accomplishing it?
After ruminating on these thoughts during the ride home, I'm ashamed to say...I still planned a trip to the grocery store just so I could be seen in public in my workout garb. I guess I'm a work in progress.

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