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 gym— the anal acoustics are much more forgiving outside.

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

  1. confessions-of-a-nomad 06/07/2013 at 12:11 am #

    HAha hilarious!! Love the way you write. This has given my day at the office a much greater start than expected! This is like every girls nightmare..

    • Jen and Tonic 06/07/2013 at 10:22 am #

      I KNOW! It’s not often we get the chance to let out a liquidy fart in the face of our crushes. Once in a lifetime, right there.

  2. Main Street Musings Blog 05/24/2013 at 1:12 pm #

    Wait, why won’t you join Jim? And why is he so sweaty?

    • Jen and Tonic 06/04/2013 at 11:21 pm #

      I’m guessing it’s all the time he spends on the elliptical machine.

  3. jeanjames26 05/24/2013 at 9:34 am #

    Funniest goddamn thing I’ve read in a long time!!! Love the Ralph quote you slipped in.

    • Jen and Tonic 06/04/2013 at 11:21 pm #

      YES! You got the reference. Cool points being thrown your way.

  4. mabukach 05/23/2013 at 4:19 pm #

    You funny, girl machine breath.
    Seriously funny shit. Somewhere, there’s a fitness blog with a pretty guy telling a story of how a girl farted in his face.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/23/2013 at 10:06 pm #

      I bet it’s titled, “Trouser trumpets: Why I left Personal Training and Became an Accountant”

      • mabukach 05/24/2013 at 12:35 pm #

        Welp, looks like I’m calling farts trouser trumpets from now on.

  5. The Hook 05/23/2013 at 12:37 pm #

    My Lord, this was HILARIOUS! You have mad storytelling skills, Jen.
    I have to remember to reblog this soon. Priceless!

    • Jen and Tonic 05/23/2013 at 10:04 pm #

      Thanks, Hook! I do love telling a story because I want it to be ALL ABOUT ME.

  6. thisisnotalex 05/22/2013 at 4:04 am #

    Hahaha I actually laughed out loud. I’ve never actually farted in someone’s face, but there has been the odd slip in yoga… and they weren’t pretty. Mortifying, actually!

    • Jen and Tonic 05/23/2013 at 10:04 pm #

      Those ones that kind of run out of your butt are the worst!

  7. celeryhills 05/20/2013 at 11:39 pm #

    I died when I read this. REDBULLFUCKYEAH. I am telling you, TEARS.

    I enjoy my gym. The first day with my trainer (a petite blond with false eyelashes who made me feel like Big Foot but hey what can you do) told me it was more than OK to laugh at the Zumba chicks.

    She was so right…

    • Jen and Tonic 05/21/2013 at 12:26 am #

      Oh god, I’ve done Zumba, and we do live close to each other. Was one of the people you laughed at wearing a “I brake for brakes” t-shirt and looking like she was in the middle of being electrocuted?

  8. Madame Weebles 05/20/2013 at 2:20 pm #

    I’m not sure where to begin with how perfect this post is. Although personally, I don’t let people watch my body parts jiggle unless they’re paying me for it. You should have told that trainer that in certain countries that sort of fart is considered the greatest honor that can be bestowed upon a person. Kind of like how they say that when a bird craps on you, it’s good luck.

  9. victoriabruce 05/20/2013 at 12:55 am #

    Reblogged this on The Blurred Line and commented:
    Ever had one of THOSE gym experiences? One of the ones that either make your cringe in revulsion of the poor hygiene of others or due to your using a machine backwards? Ever seen a personal trainer make a grown man cry. This one is for you from Jen.

  10. victoriabruce 05/20/2013 at 12:53 am #

    Everyone is terribly hard at work and then I started weeping with laughter. Very hard to maintain professional decorum. I did the same thing to a yoga instructor once. He tried to tell me it was normal. There is nothing normal about it, especially if you were brought up to believe women did not DO that.

    My dislike of the gym is also due to a horrible shower experience when some chick thought the communal gym showers with one open drain was a good place to shave her entire body and the clumps drifted past my toes.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/20/2013 at 10:04 am #

      Thanks for the reblog!

      I can imagine that in certain lines of work (ahem, proctology) that being farted on is just an occupational hazard. Still, you don’t want to be the one creating a gas leak.

      Gym showers make people feel so free, don’t they? I’ve seen parts of people’s bodies I didn’t even know existed until they got naked, squatted, and then bent over.

      • victoriabruce 05/20/2013 at 12:05 pm #

        Why do they do that? The bending squatting ones are also usually the ones who should not be doing either and should be working out in a large muumuu. My OCD freaks out in gym change rooms. I loved the sauna and the steam room for a bit, until some lady decided to brush off her dead skin next to me with a large domestic scrubbing brush. *shudder*

  11. saradraws 05/19/2013 at 7:01 pm #

    Because I am your friend, and I want to support you, I will totally not join the gym with you.

    Also, no way was he your soul mate if he handles the farting that way. Ask Eric….

    • Jen and Tonic 05/19/2013 at 8:55 pm #


      Maybe your farts smell like poutine, and that’s why he doesn’t mind.

  12. Phoenix 05/19/2013 at 2:09 pm #

    I seriously just laughed my fucking ass off reading this. Then I read for my boyfriend and we both laughed our asses off. I’m wiping away tears. Thank you. This is why I absolutely adore WordPress. You’re amazing and I heart you.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/19/2013 at 8:56 pm #

      YES! One day, if you have children, I want you to read this story to them. It’s totally appropriate for 2- to 4-year olds at bedtime.

      • Phoenix 05/19/2013 at 11:28 pm #

        Seeing as how I still act like a child in many ways, I agree with you! 😉

  13. Adam S 05/19/2013 at 7:42 am #

    Ok, this was funny as hell, but the Gaffigan meme sent me through the roof! Oh my god I fucking love that guy. He’s such a lovable doofus!

  14. Monk Monkey 05/19/2013 at 2:23 am #

    He was probably not even a trainer anyway – just some creepy guy pretending to be one. So he deserved it to drip off his face like that – your smell I mean.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/19/2013 at 9:22 pm #

      His certificate WAS from the “Acme school of exercise”…

  15. Kelly 05/18/2013 at 6:08 pm #

    This is fantastic.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/18/2013 at 9:35 pm #

      Thanks! Good to see you here.

      • Kelly 05/19/2013 at 5:47 am #

        I am always here… like a creepy lurker. Only “here” is usually on my phone. Today “here” is actually on the internet machine!!

  16. speaker7 05/18/2013 at 11:31 am #

    This was something of beauty. . . almost as beautiful as that face you farted into.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/18/2013 at 3:26 pm #

      That fart was a runner up on Season 3 of America’s Next Top Model.

  17. shalilah2002 05/18/2013 at 10:08 am #

    I feel the same way about gyms. In California it’s actually become an it thing. Having a gym membership for some is a have to thing. It’s actually status to some people.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/18/2013 at 11:18 am #

      That is totally true! I’m from San Jose originally, and people uses to say, “You don’t belong to a gym?” with a WTF look on their faces.

  18. The Bumble Files 05/17/2013 at 11:11 pm #

    Haha, Jen this is one of your best! I love your dialogue with Hot Trainer! Hysterical! I can see why the gym is out, especially since you live in beautiful Portland. I still love my boot camp though….it’s all women and not a big gym. We just get down to business and sweat it out.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/18/2013 at 11:22 am #

      I actually think fitness classes (and even gyms) have their place. I love to do hot yoga, and have to go to a studio for that. It’s whatever your comfort level is! Also, it’s badass that you do boot camp.

      • The Bumble Files 05/19/2013 at 10:50 pm #

        Thanks, Jen. Well, you know, I am so badass! I actually really love it because it’s such a challenge.

  19. Christopher De Voss 05/17/2013 at 8:03 pm #

    What is the thing that Meatloaf won’t do anyway?

  20. Kylie 05/17/2013 at 5:05 pm #

    OMG I am cracking up. And I never use “OMG,” but you earned it. Wow.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/17/2013 at 10:10 pm #

      My dream is to make people laugh so hard they can’t type out full sentences or words.

  21. Lyssapants 05/17/2013 at 3:24 pm #

    I loled at “calm your tits.”
    I join you in your distaste of paying for things that are already free.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/17/2013 at 10:12 pm #

      My tits have a mind of their own, I can’t control what they do.

      • Lyssapants 05/18/2013 at 8:42 am #

        True free spirits…we can all learn something from them.

  22. writerwendyreid 05/17/2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Omg Jen this was fucking hilarious. I DO feel your pain though. That was probably the absolute MOST embarrassing thing that could have happened to you, aside from actually shitting your pants. Why women are so painfully shy about bodily functions that men brag about. To this day, I think my husband has heard me fart less than 5 times and even then, it’s been while asleep. I feel the same way about gyms…but I love the way you said it. Great post Jen. 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 05/17/2013 at 10:17 pm #

      I think, if you’re going to be this humiliated, you might as well shit your pants! It’s almost like running a 10k, and then stopping 1k short of the finish line. “Nope, I’m good. I don’t want a great story to tell, just a good one.”

      • writerwendyreid 05/18/2013 at 8:33 am #

        I’m not sure what one thing has to do with the other. Growing up in my house, we didn’t habitually fart in front of each other…it was something we were taught that you do in the washroom or when you are alone. Even more so if you were a girl. This may seem overboard to you, but it’s the way we were raised.

        • Jen and Tonic 05/18/2013 at 11:16 am #

          I was talking about the part where you were trying to make me feel better by saying that it could have been worse, I could have shit myself.

          • writerwendyreid 05/18/2013 at 1:40 pm #

            lol..ok, I get it now. Sorry…my meds are affecting my ability to think clearly.

          • Jen and Tonic 05/18/2013 at 3:26 pm #

            It’s all good 😉

  23. Daan van den Bergh 05/17/2013 at 12:40 pm #

    You’re right, gyms are for retards, but I think most people go their for the social status. I mean, all the important, flashy, oily, gooey people go there. So you should do! Otherwise you won’t fit in!

    I’ve never went to the gym, when I was younger I practiced kickboxing and my weekly schedule was as follows:
    mo, tue: practice
    wed: swimming
    thu, fri: practice
    sat: run 5km
    sun: church (which is the name of the coffeeshop I used to visit)

    NEVER joined a gym, yet I looked like a beast.

    When I was about 21 I let myself go for particular reasons, but I recently started to work out again and yes, I didn’t join a gym. 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 05/17/2013 at 10:16 pm #

      It looks like on Sundays the only thing you were strengthening was your relationship with God! Am I right? *badum-CHING” I’ll be here all night, folks.

      • Daan van den Bergh 05/18/2013 at 2:31 am #


        Actually I was strengthening my relationship with Jah, which is like God, but higher. *badum-CHING* I’ll be here all night, pushing Jen of the stage!

  24. Patty Durgan 05/17/2013 at 11:35 am #

    Great post, Jen! Loved it. I miss hearing stories like this.

    • Jen and Tonic 05/17/2013 at 10:15 pm #

      Thanks, Patty! I miss our banter as well. I totally owe you an e-mail! Sorry, life has been very all over the place lately. We definitely need to get together soon.


  1. Reflecting on Ms. Jen and Tonic’s Why I wont join a gym post | ASpoonfulofSuga - 05/17/2013

    […] I read a post from the lovely Jen & Tonic  that made me laugh and cry. It was her lovely post: Why I Won’t Join a Gym . She listed some reasons why she doesnt like gyms/ fitness factories, two of which in particular […]

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