Week Fourteen, Day Four
The sun was up when I woke up. It was warmer than it had been in weeks and I was actually excited to go workout. Mostly because my mom is ROCKING the competition and I need to get some significant weight loss going on if I'm going to win (I mean, I obviously want to lose weight to lose weight and continue to become healthier but there's nothing like a little competition to get that jumpstarted...).
So even though I felt good going to the gym, while I was there, I experienced something I haven't before... and I don't even know what the right term for it is. Not body shaming but... gym shaming? Workout shaming? I don't know what to call it but it wasn't pleasant.
Let me paint the scene for you - the gym is sectioned off with cardio machines, then there's a section for strength training machines and there's a door and huge glass windows that go to another section where they do "advanced" training programs (cardiofit and the like). The "experienced" lifters or athletes go there and do free weights and jump on boxes and shit like. Cool, right?
So there I am, doing my strength training program on the machines. These are the typical machines you see at any gym really, with a few exceptions. So as I'm doing my routine, there are a few groups of girls that have clearly been at this fitness thing a while (they were looking great!) but one group was in the room doing free weights and looking at me in the way you look down at someone. It was a look of disdain. Which, whatever. I went on my way and kept doing my routine. But it wasn't until I went to a certain section of the machines that for the first time since I've been working out, I've been made to feel bad. The other group of girls were taking up an entire machine (one that is technically supposed to be for 2 people) and they completely took it over. They spent thirty minutes on this machine when there were clearly a line of us ready to use it. And they just kept laughing and looking at other people like, "haha, look how great we look, we deserve to occupy this machine... we've clearly earned it." And as if that wasn't bad enough - I was right about to get on another machine and one of the girls runs over before I can get there and puts her sweatshirt and water bottle on it, "claiming" it. What?! Had my husband saw, he would have pushed their stuff right to the ground and got on the machine anyway. Why do they get to "claim" machines they're not even using when they're already taking over an entire machine?
I didn't really have it in me to confront her so I just moved on, but I couldn't help the feeling like I (and the few other people in line to use the machine) were being shamed. I should mention that all of us in line were similar to me (clearly NOT fit, just trying to do their best to get that way). I'm sure that I'm reading far too much into it. And I'm just taking things personally, but I've never felt like that before at the gym. It's been a relatively "safe space" for me so far. As I got on an exercise bike and pushed myself, I felt bad about my progress. That maybe I've been doing things wrong. Not trying hard enough. Maybe I didn't belong in that section and should I even continue to try when clearly I'm looked at with a disgusted look?
Logically, I know that's crazy. I belong there as much as the rest of them. And I don't know where they started or when. Maybe it's taken them ten years to get to their fantastic fit shape. And maybe they started at a way higher weight than I have. But to me, that means that more than anyone, they should know how it feels to be looked at and treated poorly in a place where you're trying to better yourself. Shame on them for thinking they deserve "special" treatment like claiming machines or looking down on others who are just starting their journey.
Regardless of those girls - I'm not gonna let them stop me. Because this IS a journey. MY journey. And I'll be damned if I'm going to let someone else put a damper on the achievements I have made!