Before the existence of 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, or Curves, there was this little place called “outside” that people frequented. Membership to this exclusive studio featured oxygen, scenery, and convenient access no matter where on Earth you were. You could get it all for zero dollars a month, and zero dollars in sign-up fees. If you brought a friend, you could both work out for the price of one!
I refuse to join a gym. I think it’s a racket to overcharge people to do what they could do for free, and I don’t enjoy letting strangers see my body jiggling well after I’ve stopped moving. Other reasons I hate fitness factories:
- Having to wipe off someone else’s swamp ass from the equipment
- Possibility of catching a foot fungus in the shower, forcing me to remove one of my toes, and become off-balance for the rest of my life
- Witnessing guys staring at themselves in the mirror while lifting weights
- Looking like Gollum on the treadmill while the girl with the full face of makeup next to me barely breaks a sweat
- Watching people Facebook “gettin’ my workout on!” while bicycling slower than a sleepy toddler on a tricycle
- Hearing the kind of grunting that should only come from women in labor
- Feeling embarrassed for that one guy who thinks it’s okay for dudes to use elliptical machines
- Smelling “Hansel & Gretel” body odor, the trail of stinky destruction left by a member as he/she travels around the machines
I must confess, there is one other reason I don’t like them. One huge reason.
Many years ago, I had a friend who begged me to join a gym with her. She had no intention of getting in shape, and every intention of
stalking spying on running into a guy she liked who worked out there. Reluctantly, I agreed. Well, it wasn’t so much that I agreed as it was being disoriented by the blaring techno music, and lack of circulation due to an ill-fitting sports bra. (Scientific fact: no matter how tight your bra is, if your breasts are larger than a C-cup, they will flop around while running, putting you at risk of biting off your tongue.)
I received two free personal training sessions as part of my membership, and the overly perky girl at the front desk insisted I book my first appointment right away. “Like, it’s great. It’s totally free and awesome and you’ll learn how to use the machines and the trainers are cool and REDBULLFUCKYEAH.” I went along with it because who wouldn’t give into someone who managed to secure a neon green leotard after 1987?
I showed up for my first session expecting to get a dim bulb with a tree trunk neck who’d say things like, “No pain no gain!” What I received was a special delivery from the heavens above. A fog machine went off, time slowed down, and Heart’s “Magic Man” played as the most beautiful man I’d ever laid eyes on approached me.
I’ve never been the kind of woman who easily attracts a man; in fact, I’d have an easier time convincing the Westboro Baptist Church to elect RuPaul as their leader than I would convincing a man to go on a date with me. Something about my face as well as my tendency to reference Anchorman really puts them off.
Knowing this, you can imagine I handled meeting a man created in the image of every woman’s fantasy with class and dignity.
Me: “Hi you guy. Me machine use. My cat’s breath smells like cat food.”
Hot Trainer: “Nice to meet you! Are you ready for a workout?”
Me: “My panties are getting a workout, dropping to the floor.”
HT: “Why don’t you go ahead and lay down on that mat over there.”
Me: “Right here in front of everyone? Well, okay. Be gentle. Just kidding, you can spank me if you want to.”
Sadly, he only wanted me to stretch. I did my best to twist my body in ways that signaled I was fluent in the Kama Sutra, and he complimented me on how limber I was.
HT: “Wow, you’re pretty flexible.”
Me: “So are my morals.”
He was being incredibly charming, and I began formulating a breakup speech I’d give to my boyfriend as soon as I got home. I determined, given our obvious chemistry, that proposing marriage to my new love at the end of our session would be appropriate.
After I was stretched out, he had me do a fitness test. I ran on the treadmill, knocked out some pushups, completed a vertical jump test, and wall sat like a boss. I was wiped out, but he said we still needed to test my core muscles.
I figured that it would be a breeze, all I’d have to do is sit on the floor and lift myself up a few times. I came out swinging, but he was dissatisfied with my technique. My feet were doing something he didn’t like so he got on the floor and held them down.
I was determined to prove my physical prowess so I really pushed myself. Push. Push. Push. Push. He was happy with my form. I was happy that he was happy. My abs were happy that I was using them for something other than a resting spot for my beer. You know who wasn’t happy? My intestines.
See, the thing I didn’t know was that working out isn’t just for your outside, it’s also for your inside. You know when you pick up a rock, and realize you’ve disturbed an entire ecosystem living beneath it? The fitness test had disturbed my internal rock.
I farted. In his face. A wet, I’m-drunk-and-just-ate-Taco-Bell kind of fart. There was absolutely no way of playing it off because I had nearly blown a hole right through to China. With high ceilings and an open floor plan, it was the fart heard ’round the world.
I looked down at his face, and it was a mixture of pity, horror and disgust. I ran out of there in a way that only someone being chased by a knife-wielding psycho would run. I never booked my second session.
When I’ve told people this story, they always console me by claiming that it really isn’t that bad. It’s definitely embarrassing, but not something I should agonize about over 10 years later. I ask them to imagine meeting their soulmate, and then practically shitting on his face.
I learned three very important lessons that day. The first is that you don’t need to be cut deeply to die a little on the inside, a flesh wound can kill you all the same. The second is that the “love of your life” may eventually become someone you couldn’t pick out of a lineup. The last is a far more important lesson, and the reason you won’t find me in a gym— the anal acoustics are much more forgiving outside.