Why I Won’t Join a Gym

17 May

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.)

Artist's rendition of me at the gym

Artist’s rendition of my breasts during a workout

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.

My favorite line of any movie ever

My favorite line of any movie ever

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.

All the seks

All the seks

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.

I sent him this as an apology

I sent him this to apologize for assaulting his senses

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 gymβ€” the anal acoustics are much more forgiving outside.

186 Responses to “Why I Won’t Join a Gym”

  1. Terrence M 06/29/2022 at 1:31 am #

    Great blog I enjoyedd reading

  2. LisaListed 09/17/2014 at 7:48 am #

    This has made my entire week… hilarious!!! I was sad when your wonderful story was over and was hoping for more. Except your last line kept me very satisfied with an extra punch of hilarity! Love it πŸ˜€

    • Jen and Tonic 09/17/2014 at 2:07 pm #

      I’m sorry my story ended so abruptly, but there’s no way to come back from that kind of fart, not even a decade later.

      Glad you enjoyed!

  3. Sean Smithson 01/09/2014 at 2:27 pm #

    “A wet, I’m-drunk-and-just-ate-Taco-Bell kind of fart…” Jennifer my dear, you are simply wonderful and in addition to blogging, I actually think that you should write a script for a sitcom?

    Based on your own life of course. But with the occasional cameo from your equally unlucky-in-love (but really only because he’s a giant dick) British pen pal, Smithson. Or you could lose the pen pal? I’m sure it’d still be a huge success.

    • Jen and Tonic 01/09/2014 at 4:17 pm #

      I would LOVE to write a sitcom one day. I know nothing about putting together a script, but I do know situational comedy. Mostly because I’ve survived some pretty humiliating circumstances.

      Wait, you would BE a giant dick, or you’d HAVE a giant dick? Either way, I’m okay.

      • Sean Smithson 01/10/2014 at 8:39 am #

        If we’re talking real life, then definitely the former. If we’re talking for show, then definitely the latter.

  4. Nicki Daniels 12/21/2013 at 5:49 am #

    Jen. Jennifer. Jenny. This…..changed my life. I laughed so hard I shook the bed. I laughed so hard I farted, ironically. You are officially the love child of David Sedaris and Parker Posey.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/21/2013 at 3:20 pm #

      That is the greatest compliment I’ve ever received. Let’s have a baby together?

  5. Dana 12/19/2013 at 6:12 am #

    You’re hilarious. I’m sorry you pooted on you one true love.

    • Dana 12/19/2013 at 6:13 am #

      I’m also sorry that I can’t usually words.

  6. omtatjuan 11/21/2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Two things I can’t stand at the gym… Those male gym rats that walk around the shower room scratching themselves… Buddy it’s called Gold Bond For Men… Those female gym rats that are on level a million on a Everest incline and they don’t sweat… I’m on level 2 and .ooo1 incline and I look like I just got out a Japanese prisoner of war sweat box…

    • Jen and Tonic 11/24/2013 at 1:34 pm #

      “female gyms rat that are on level a million on a Everest incline and they don’t sweat” YES YES YES! I sweat just thinking about sweating.

  7. travelexplorecreate 11/19/2013 at 12:49 pm #

    Absolutely hilarious! Plus, finally somebody who understands the Anchorman humor. πŸ˜€ I will be definitively expecting your next blog. πŸ™‚

  8. MamaMickTerry 11/15/2013 at 6:05 am #

    OMG! I almost peed my pants on this one. Loved it!
    However, I must send you an apology on behalf of my hometown…Topeka, KS. We are so sorry to be home base for the Westboro Baptist Church…ugh. sorry.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 2:44 pm #

      I should apologize to you for having to live near that shit show.

  9. The Guat 11/13/2013 at 10:59 pm #

    HA! This totally cracked me up. I felt bad laughing, but I could totally relate to crazy embarrassing situations where you feel like you have no out and all you can really do is laugh at yourself. So glad I stuck around to check out some of your stories. Totally cracked me up. Thanks!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/14/2013 at 8:45 pm #

      Please, laugh! That’s what this blog is (mostly) for. When you’re as much of a fool as I am, you HAVE to laugh.

  10. Surya Bhattacharya 11/11/2013 at 5:26 am #

    Ohmygod, DYING!! Too. Much, Laughter. HAHAHAHAHA!!!

  11. suburbanprincessteacher 11/10/2013 at 9:17 am #

    OK. That was freakin’ hilarious. You win my ‘laugh of the day’. No prize. Just the joy of knowing you made me snort with laughter.
    The gas letting – That was always my fear with hot yoga…Imagine…the stench in 110 degree heat.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/11/2013 at 10:58 am #

      That prize is good enough! I write to make people laugh so mission accomplished.

      Hot yoga is a recipe for disaster in the fart department. All of that stretching combined with the heat is like seducing a fart out of your butthole.

      • suburbanprincessteacher 11/11/2013 at 1:23 pm #

        Nice. The only one getting seduced at hot yoga is my butthole…now I feel good about myself.

  12. superwomanseven 11/02/2013 at 6:15 am #

    OMG laughed so hard I nearly peed myself!! Absolute classic! Best. Story. Ever!!!!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/02/2013 at 4:55 pm #

      I farted, you peed. We were meant to be friends.

      • superwomanseven 11/02/2013 at 4:56 pm #

        Bahaha kindred spirits of the bodily fluid kind… Love it!

  13. Edee Lemonier 11/01/2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Okay. First of all, your list of reasons why the gym is bad is priceless, and I agree completely with every one of them. Second, you had me at “neon green leotard after 1987.” But when it comes to fart stories I turn into a 12 year old boy and laugh so hard tears roll down my face and I become completely incoherent. Which is why if there are typos in this comment, it’s entirely your fault. This is the funniest frickin’ thing I’ve read in a long time! Thanks for a MUCH needed laugh!!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/02/2013 at 4:54 pm #

      I also love farts. I mean, I wouldn’t bring them to a social engagement or introduce them to my parents, but they are pretty awesome. Mostly when it’s someone else doing the farting.

  14. A Sign Of Life 11/01/2013 at 11:41 am #

    Oh my goodness, I could not stop laughing!

    Also, I agree with you. Outside is a good deal better than the indoors. πŸ™‚ (I don’t like gyms because they bore me to tears.)

    • Jen and Tonic 11/02/2013 at 4:58 pm #

      Gyms are terrible, and the people in them are even worse. I have a theory that anyone who wants to go to a gym deserves what they get once they’re there.

      • A Sign Of Life 11/02/2013 at 5:46 pm #

        I think I’ve found one gym that I actually liked, because it wasn’t like any other gym I’ve been to.

        • Jen and Tonic 11/02/2013 at 5:51 pm #

          Was it a Crossfit gym? I’ve heard those people are…intense.

          • A Sign Of Life 11/02/2013 at 5:54 pm #

            It was! But it wasn’t like any other Crossfit gym I’ve been to, either! haha. They made it really fun to go, especially for people (like me) who despise conventional workouts. The best part was you could do it whenever you want. I usually went in during the early afternoon, when there was no one else there to laugh at me climb the net rope and get all the way to the top before my fear of heights kicked in.
            The people there were really chill, actually. It was a nice change of pace.

          • Jen and Tonic 11/02/2013 at 5:59 pm #

            I want to flip over tires and jump 78 feet in the air too. All of the gyms here are for super hardcore people so I’d have to work out to get in shape before I could go there and get in shape.

          • A Sign Of Life 11/02/2013 at 6:01 pm #

            Ugh, that’s the worst. There’s a reason I (sometimes) do yoga. In my room. With the door closed and shutters down. When everyone else is at work.

          • Jen and Tonic 11/02/2013 at 6:04 pm #

            HAHA!!!! We have the same workout method.

  15. vyvacious 08/09/2013 at 1:27 am #


    I would like to purchase the surveillance video in the gym from that day please…

    • Jen and Tonic 11/02/2013 at 4:59 pm #

      I’m responding three months later because I’m really on top of things.

      • vyvacious 11/08/2013 at 11:34 pm #

        I know you are, like that one night in the room we shared… just kidding, or am I?! But really, I HAD SO MUCH FUN IN AUSTIN, LET’S HAVE ANOTHER BLOGGER INTERACTIVE RIGHT NOW!!! πŸ˜€

        • Jen and Tonic 11/09/2013 at 1:06 pm #


          I know. Meetup in SoCal!!!

          • vyvacious 11/09/2013 at 4:53 pm #

            YESSSS!! I will shower you all with delightfully yummy baked goods!! πŸ˜€

  16. Kourtney Heintz 06/30/2013 at 3:20 pm #

    I think you have some great reasons not to join a gym but I think your last reason is the best reason not to go back to that particular gym. πŸ˜‰

    • Jen and Tonic 06/30/2013 at 9:08 pm #

      The fart was so bad I bet HE didn’t want to go back.


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