Fatty Joins a Gym
So yesterday I went down to the 24 Hour Fitness that’s about a half mile away, at the base of the hill I live on. I would prefer something like the YMCA but my husband told me that he could get a discounted membership at 24 Hour Fitness through his work, so that’s where I checked out first. I got a little tour from one of the people that worked there and a 7-day pass, which after I post this entry I’m going to go down and use for the first time.
Anyway, some interesting things happened in this process.
One was, as the gal was showing me the weight training area, she asked if I had ever done weight training. I said no… well not after the weight training in gym class in school. And she asked me why not? Was I intimidated by the machines? I thought it was the most bizarre question. First of all, it’s not immediately obvious to me why she would assume I’d be intimidated by the machines. Maybe some people are, but I’m not. Second, “not having done” something does not equal “avoiding” that thing. It’d be like asking me why I haven’t ever been to Mexico or driven a stick shift. Haven’t had the opportunity, haven’t had the desire, whatever—I just haven’t. I’m not actively avoiding the weight training! In fact it might possibly be something I could be interested in someday, but right now all I want to do is dance and swim and use the cardio machines to let off steam and work my muscles.
So that brings me to the second interesting point. I’m joining a gym because I want to, not because I feel like “I should.” And yet there I still have so much internalized fatphobia that there is this small part of me that feels smug and self-righteous, that I’m being “good” by doing this and am somehow better than those that don’t. I suppose this is a combination of both healthism and fatphobia. And it is, of course, ridiculous for many reasons. I know it is an ugly part of myself, but it’s interesting that she’s showing her face here. My actual reasons for joining a gym really have nothing to do with obligation. I miss swimming like crazy (since the pool I was swimming at closed) and I’m interested in their dancing classes (and NIA classes are so expensive!) and I find myself restless from time to time, in need of blowing off steam on a cardio machine. It’s one thing I miss about my Dad’s big house in the suburbs—there was always a bike, a treadmill, and a quiet and pretty place to walk outside. Here there is no exercise room in our condo, and I live in a very densely populated part of Seattle so “taking a walk” is nowhere near what I would call quiet and visually pleasing.
The third interesting thing was that I was really the only very fat person there. Probably the only person who technically qualifies as “obese” according to the BMI charts. There were other slightly fat people (what other people might call “overweight” though I hate that term with a burning passion, and think “slightly fat” is much more accurate and less condescending). I remember being in gym class in school and feeling so overwhelmed with self-consciousness at being a fat person in a room with people who were exercising. I felt like I was standing out, that everyone was thinking about how hideously fat I was and that I should get off my ass and move more. Well, maybe they were… but maybe they weren’t. Maybe they weren’t thinking all about me, you know? Maybe they had their own stuff to deal with. Yesterday, I felt slightly self-conscious. But moreso because I was wearing street clothes and everyone else was in workout clothes. And knowing myself, I will probably seek out machines in the corner or the back where people aren’t as likely to notice me. But I’ve really noticed a remarkable shift in my consciousness. It’s more like, “well, if they think my body is unacceptable, so what? Their problem.”
Anyway, it turns out that my husband’s company terminated their agreement with 24 Hour Fitness, so that’s no longer available. But, they are running a very good deal right now, and when I checked online it is less than half what the YMCA charges per month! So I think I’ll probably end up going for it. But I want to try it out on the free pass a few times first. Any of you have experience with 24 Hour Fitness? Good or bad?