I have been going to the same gym on and off for two decades. Whenever I have been home, I have had rapturous unsustainable , passionate relationships with the gym and other times meaningless flirtations, until my leisure time was lured by better offers, such as olive tasting nights or bolsotering friend’s online dating profiles with completely fictitious hobbies ( minature gingerbread house designer -being the most respectable) . All of these have seemed better ideas than having to drive out in the darkness to a freezing cold aircraft hanger to throw my body around various classes that hold the promise of injury, well before I can persuade myself that I can actually see some definition.
The gym I attend is where trophy wives go to die. I ponder this as I park between 4x4s that have never been off road. Some of these women haven’t seen a carbohydrate since the first time they wore blue mascara and certainly haven’t frowned since the mid 90s. I have always though marrying for money to be an easy way out, a bypass to having a career and fulfilling life, perhaps because I have never been thin enough or unopinionated enough to put up with the sort of man that searches for them. Around twenty minutes into the class, the 21year old instructor is trying her best to encourage the elite squad of women to do “excercises that would make their husbands happy.” I begin pondering that most of the husbands would probably be more interested in the aerobics instructor- no matter how many pelvic floor movements Shelly from Romford can manage. The hall was fairly bereft of the fitgasm crew, thank God. These are the super keen, very lean, back -to- back fitness class women. At around the point that I can no longer breathe and am wondering if I have given myself whip lash from over enthusiastic arm movements and I feel like my heart is about to break about of my chest like the an alien- we get down to the last torturous set of horrific excercises. This is when the women start making weird enthusiastic howling or grunting sounds that are meant to be encouraging and demonstrate duress simultaneously, they are lost in the endorphin rush and pain and make these curious sounds- the fitgasms. I cannot express how uncomfortable I find this and look around the room to check I am not part of some out of control Bacchic ritual set to Euro chart- topping beats.
In fact, I am spending most of the time, avoiding looking at the mirror and wondering if anybody would notice if I needed the defib, or if my cardiac would somehow be lost amid the frenzy of ecstatic fitness moaning .In any case, mercifully the fitgasms werent there, which was somewhat of a blessing. I can’t really go to the gym, as I find myself either talking to people or politely letting people go in front of me on the equipment. I need the ritual humilation that only comes from being surrounded by older people who are physically fit, to actually do the class.
The second thing I notice, is that in my readiness not to look to keen or dres like I know what I am doing, is that I think I have had the same gym T shirt for 15 years. I don’t think it ever fitted me and it now conceals the mono boob. This is a product of wearing the sports bra that seems to squash any breasts more substantial than a satsuma into looking like one solid part of the body. Nothing moves thanks to the structural engineering apparently from space rockets) that goes into creating sports bras. I can only conclude that rocket engineers date very thin women, because there is no way on earth that anyone would think they had created something beautiful and functional with the monoboob bra. Furthermore, not satisfied with cramming the unruly body into one wired and lycra monstrosity, the deisgner the saw fit to have it made in neon colours. I also took a moment to take in the teacher’s ensemble that highlighted beautiful deltoids , apparently the pulled- up football sock, baseball cap- topped outfit is now a thing. Quite frankly if I could still look attractive looking as if I had robbed a 1970s football changing room, then I might be tempted to wear the same. I dont think the vest would go over my head, let alone anywhere else.
It is a rather sad state of affairs that I can congratulate myself for going in the right direction ( i,e right or left) or not falling over anyone elses weights, steps or water bottles and being able to be able to count to 8. Still, I went. I am hoping that this time, the gym and I can go the distance. I’m sure my body would thank me for it…