“I don't sweat, I glow. I don't sweat, I glow. I radiate vitality.” The girl next to me was looking at me strangely.
was I speaking aloud?” She nodded, although I could see she was
thinking 'Weirdo!' She reduced her pace until she could jump off and
stretch in the designated area far away from me.
it! I'd done it again. Why couldn't I stop affirmations popping out
of my mouth? That was the third person I'd scared off in a week,
including a member of staff! But concentrating on a mantra helped me
complete my interval training and blotted out the interfering
background: a wall of flashing TVs and piped techno music.
there... Ten more minutes, then a three minute cool down. My
programme said fifteen minutes on the cross-trainer next, but I was
going to row instead. I didn't want to go on an imaginary hike with
Nordic poles, but wanted to pretend I was in a boat on the River
Thames. These thoughts came to a halt as I entered the 'zone'.
Typical, just when I'm supposed to be slowing down! Now I have to
continue to run with this rhythm, where nothing else matters but the
pound of my feet on the fake tarmacked road beneath them. For a
while, I pretended I was Forrest Gump, until like him I ended my run
I did a
quick calf stretch taking in what was going on around me. A couple of
girls in crop tops and hot pants had walked in and were being chatted
up by a male instructor. Others with full make-up and fake eyelashes
on were loitering in the free weights to perv at guys who were
flexing their pecs and grunting. I was au natural: hair ruthlessly
scraped back, in a non-revealing top and tracksuit bottoms,
surrounded by 'Heat' wannabes. People posing and waiting to be seen
by the paparazzi. The paps that might jump out from behind a bike or
resistance machine. A mugshot of me would be in the 'OMG, what does
she look like?' category, and as if I had seen the cover of the
magazine, I immediately felt deflated. My energy zapped by Lycra-clad
sipped my water and realised this wasn't my scene any longer. I came
here to de-stress, not to compete with real-life-photo-shopped
models. Even the-woman-next-door has to be flawless. Being here
suddenly seemed sad and pathetic, like a hamster exercising in a cage
with no natural light and recycled air. As I stretched my triceps I
had a light bulb moment: I was set to wave goodbye to a big chunk of
my life and I didn't care! I would get out of the heat: avoid the
gym, the tittle-tattle of gossip magazines, and trashy day-time TV. I
would exercise differently, where the price would not be my
swimming pool of relief washed over me as with my red towel I wiped
my brow and the equipment down. My obsession for this activity had
burnt out suddenly; I was amazed by the speed in which it had died
within me. The once ignited flame for burning calories on machinery
had become a dead fire. And with that I grabbed my belongings, took
one final look at the parading bunnies and the pumped-up blokes
demonstrating their prowess in the mirror, and exited, letting the
door swing closed on this teen-into-adult chapter.
fixation with being seen as 'fit' is not healthier.