I bet none of these chancers were doing what I was doing last night.
Viz. drinking gin in the garden, picking apart the finer lyrical points of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black album while gesturing expansively, my cigarettes lighting up the dark garden like poisonous fireflies.
And I bet none of them spent the opening minutes of Sunday morning pulling their best Meatloaf impression out of the bag, delivering a killer (if I do say so myself) ‘Paradise by the dashboard light‘ to an ambivalent, slightly puzzled, audience of one (oh, the poor long-suffering boy is an actual SAINT, I am quite certain).
Also: WHERE ARE ALL THE OBSESE PEOPLE? These people are all tight and toned and shiny and fragrant and definitely are not the colour of beetroots.
Oh, yeah, and you in the ironic “Running sucks” t-shirt that looks like Adonis’ baby brother? Yeah. You can get your un-hilarious hipster face out of my eye line too.
That’s what was going through my mind after I gingerly stepped foot into a frankly terrifyingly space age room full of alien-looking machines this morning.
I’ve been here before. Not to this one, but in this place. I am the queen of unused gym memberships and un-kept resolutions. But something flipped the switch marked ‘GYMGOER’ in my head yesterday. No big revelation, just the cumulative, nagging, gnawing dread of looking in the mirror every morning and not liking the girl that stares back.
“MY EYES! I LIKE MY EYES AT LEAST. SOMEONE ONCE TOLD ME THEY ARE LIKE POOLS OF THE DEEPEST GREEN!” I tell myself. But eyes can’t wear Topshop or pull off skinny jeans. And neither can I anymore. That’s the problem.
I’ve never been skinny. 14 has been my most consistent size since my early 20s. And I’ve been ok with that. Embrace the skin you’re in! Even the excess skin! I’m completely down with beauty in diversity. I hate the Daily Fail’s sidebar of shame as much as the next person. I went down to a size 10 two summers ago, but that’s after the man I was going to marry decided he wasn’t so up for that anymore and bailed out of my life. I was desperately unhappy, stopped eating and my weight plummeted. When I look at those pictures now, I don’t see skinny calves and a waspish waist. I see sadness. Empty eyes. A girl falling fast. I certainly don’t want to be HER anymore. But I would like to look in the mirror and go “HELL YEAH!” occasionally instead of “OH DEAR…”
Gyms have always been a hurdle for me. I’ve always written them off as temples of the vain and vacuous. I saw a businesswoman I really admire talk at a dinner once and she said her one piece of advice for ambitious women was “Never get your nails done”. The logic being that if you embark on that habit, you end up spending hours in nail parlours while men are out there changing the world. Doing the stuff we expect men to do. If women are to compete we need to get our asses out of the nail parlours and into the manplaces.
I sort of applied the same logic to gyms. Why slog my little legs out on a cross trainer when I can be in the outdoors, seeing STUFF! Making stuff happen! Smiling at strangers!
But a girl’s allowed to change her mind, right? I’ve been cycling a lot of late and I’ve finally accepted that I LIKE exercise. It makes me happy! And what’s more I think it might like me back!
So this morning I signed on the dotted line. I cycled over to my newly adopted temple, and after the necessary paperwork was done, I hauled my lardy ass into the studio. Show me the machines that will LITERALLY BURN ALL OF MY FAT LIKE A CREMATORIUM OVEN!
I started pondering what songs I’d play at a funeral for my fat, maybe a little too hard, because what followed is the sort of thing that could only happen to me. I was a little ambitious on the treadmill (but 14MPH seemed so MANAGEABLE!) and fell off in full view of a man I immediately recognized as my neighbour.
Yes ladies and gents, I fell off a treadmill. There is some cruel metaphor for life hidden in there, I’m sure. The rest of the session passed without incident though, and at times like these, you have to be grateful for small mercies.
HIGH FIVE SISTER! YOU GYMMED THE HELL OUT OF THAT PLACE! I told myself as I treated myself to a dip in the pool and a session in the steam room.
As I lay looking at the twinkly stars on the steam room ceiling, feeling all the BAD STUFF pouring out of my pores, I realized I could feel my heart pounding urgently in my chest. I love this feeling. My little heart doing what it’s supposed to! Sending the good stuff around my body! It felt vital, and life-giving and precious.
Then a sudden twist of my rear end resulted in a noise I can only describe as “giant fart”, resulting in some odd looks from my fellow steamers. I wanted to shout “IT WASN’T ME! IT WAS A FREAK ACCIDENT BROUGHT ABOUT BY A COMBINATION OF WATER, AIR, MANMADE FIBRES AND SUDDEN MOTION!”. But I just sneaked out, shame-faced.
Ok, so it wasn’t a roaring success. But I have all my limbs! And on the cycle home I felt alive and virtuous and smiled at strangers!
As somebody once said, you gotta take the rough with the smooth right?
Soon I will be like THESE PEOPLE who are secretly tittering, and pitying me.
Mark my words.