I joined a gym around a year ago. This is not exactly big news. It is however, highly out of character for me. Stranger still is the fact that I joined it at the request of my mom, who is maybe the one person alive that is less physically inclined than I am and a woman whom I hardly ever listen to. Incidentally, I think she went to the gym a total of four times and two of those times were to get a spray tan. But I really got into it.
The gym was nothing like I had expected. I had always pictured crowded rooms of people with gorgeous bodies, taking turns on gym equipment and free weights and in between sets, checking each other out and judging me for my lack of form and fullness of figure.
I’m still assuming that’s how most gyms are but not mine. It’s a hidden gem, (see what I did there)nestled in an aging part of the city where the vast majority of gym goers are over the age of fifty or as out of shape as I am.
My gym is a safe haven. There are probably fit people there judging me but It doesn’t matter. It’s not crowded so we can all spread out. It’s easy enough to put my headphones in and pretend like I’m the only one there. No, I will not tell you where it is. So don’t ask. It’s mine! It’s all mine! (Cue maniacal laughter.)
There are some hot men and women that go there to be sure but they are out numbered by the fat and the elderly. They don’t want anything to do with us and we don’t want anything to do with them. We definetly aren’t on the same fitness routine so it all works out.
Until she came along.
She is over 50 AND in shape. She breaks barriers. She upsets the natural order of the universe. And also, she’s kind of a bitch, which I’ve always thought of as my thing.
My first encounter with her was in the pool room. I spend most of my gym time in the pool because 1)I love swimming and also 2)because any other form of cardio causes my face to turn the color of a tomato. The fun part of being a swimmer is that if I go to the gym late enough in the evening there is a pretty good chance I will be one of the only people swimming. (Unless it’s January through early February when all the new years resolutioners take over. I’ve recently discovered.) But in general, I’m one of the only people in the pool, which is a lavish, wonderful feeling. It’s so peaceful and relaxing. It’s the perfect way to end the day and wear myself out for bed.
Then sometime in October or November, she arrived. She came into the pool room fully dressed with two bags full of God knows what. She walked right up to the chair I had placed at the end of my lane and without so much as a cursory glance around to make sure it didn’t belong to anyone, she threw the towel on the floor into a puddle.
There were other chairs. She walked passed them to get to mine. I feel confident that she did it on purpose. She was making a point. I’m not normally a paranoid person but it seemed like an intentional territory move. She was letting me know that it was her pool now. Then she took my former chair and placed her big bags on it, took her clothes off right there poolside and put on flippers. Flippers! In a four foot pool. Then she sits on the ledge of her lane with her head down for literal minutes, like she was praying or psyching herself up for an Olympic performance. I hate her.
Now she’s there every damned day. Every damned day she is in the pool and she swims for hours. Most of the people at my gym walk their laps, or they tread, or they swim a lap or two and then they rest. (Like I said we aren’t the most advanced group.)This woman swims nonstop for actual hours. I know this because when I go to the gym, the first thing I do is go see if she’s in the pool and if she is I go find something else to do No matter how long I’m there, she is still swimming back and forth, non-stop with her flippers on. Get this! She also has flippers for her hands that she uses sometimes. When I give up and finally come swim with her, I will do my whole routine and when I leave she’s still in the pool. Now that I think about it, She might be insane.
Now look, I’m a woman in my 30’s who only started working out in any real way about a year ago. I’m overweight (slightly). I smoked for ten years. I don’t expect to be a gym star. But I love my gym because no one there makes me feel like I’m not. I’m there to try. I’m there to learn. I’m there to do something positive for myself. For years I never even thought of going to the gym because I was afraid people were going to treat me the way that she does.
I’ve tried to be nice to her too. Despite our initial meeting, I’ve gone out of my way to smile at her and say hello. She just ignores me. If we’re in the lanes next to each other and we happen to be at the end at the same time, she looks right through me like I’m not even there. If she had been going to the gym when I first got there, I know I wouldn’t have stayed. Luckily by the time she arrived, I was comfortable enough to realize that she is the exception and not the rule. She doesn’t belong there and she is making me miserable. She’s a gym bully, a swim bully but I’m not going to let her scare me away. I may throw her towel on the floor some time when she’s in the shower but I haven’t yet. I will try not to sink to her level. (See what I did again?)