It had been about 5 years since I trained in a gym which had communal dressing rooms. Just long enough, it turns out, for me to have almost forgotten all of the weird and wonderful goings on the innocent bystander is likely to observe. Let me preface this post by saying, it is not a rant. I am not about “fit shaming” or “fat shaming.” I merely wanted to share some of the things I love to hate. Some are amusing, others are confusing and some are just downright odd!
Pristine, post workout perfection: I came out of the shower the other night and I was standing with a towel around me, waiting to get to my locker. There was a girl using the locker beside mine, so I patiently waited while she rooted in her gear bag, (forever.) I waited because I assumed she was getting ready for her workout. She was all long, blonde tresses, not a hair astray. Make-up so perfectly applied, it could have passed for a professional job. She looked like she has stepped off the cover of a magazine (albeit a fitness one!) So imagine my surprise when she hoisted her bag onto her shoulder and left the gym!
I don’t understand this, and I have no problem admitting jealousy. How can these girls leave the gym looking more put together than I manage even on my best day? What genetic anomaly is at play to ensure these girls’ faces don’t sweat and their hair doesn’t move? The bitchy part of me thinks they must not be working too hard if they look that good at the end of their session. If the bitchy part is wrong, I definitely need to get some make-up tips!
The tummy tuckers: I firmly believe that anyone showing up to the gym and making an honest effort deserves nothing but respect. Regardless of your size, shape or current level of ability, you are making an investment in your health and well-being and you should be proud. It honestly breaks my heart to see women, and usually young girls, obviously sucking in their tummies while trying to get changed.
Not only is this hugely impractical and uncomfortable it should be completely unnecessary. All of us are in that changing room together because we share a common goal. It should feel like a safe and judgement free environment. Not a place where you feel the need to risk passing out from lack of oxygen. In a world full of body image issues and pressure to be perfect, surely the dressing room should be the one place where we girls can let it all hang out? In any case, as my mother always says “nobody is looking at you!”
The last time I witnessed this, the girl doing the sucking in had a lovely figure. It really saddened me to see such an obvious sign that she is unhappy with her body.
The make-up mogels: This one really baffles me. Women who, after their shower, take the time to blow dry (with their own hair dryers) and straighten their hair and expertly reapply their make-up. I could understand this painstaking ritual first thing in the morning, but this could be at 9pm on a Monday. Either these ladies have far more exciting social lives than I do, which wouldn’t be hard, or they are going to a lot of effort to get ready to go to home.
Part of me is completely confused by this, but another part is envious of their energy and conscientiousness. Most nights I can barely be bothered putting a bra back on! I am far too busy calculating how many hours sleep I will get. Full disclosure, I only make the effort if I have to stop on the way home.
Miscellaneous madness: There are some things which really ought only to be done in the privacy of your own home.
- Shaving legs, or any other part of ones body. Seriously girls time, place etc.
- Standing naked in front of the mirror to examine oneself, intimately (enough said)
- Using hair dryers to dry your body. Unless you have forgotten your towel, and even at that, I struggle to think of a reason why anyone would do this, even at home!
For all the things which confuse and baffle me, there are one or two that just genuinely make me smile.
I love seeing little kids running around with wild abandon. Caring not about what state of undress they are in, and deftly escaping the clutches of parents trying to wrangle them into clothing. They serve as a reminder that we are not born with inhibitions, hang ups and body image issues. These things are learned, and so can be unlearned. Small children don’t question whether or not they fit in or if they have the right to be there, they just live. We can learn a lot from them.
I also love seeing parents putting kids into their pj’s for the journey home. There is something so timeless about this, and I remember it being done when we were children. It is heart warming to see them in their pajamas with overcoats and shoes. I just wish I could go home like that myself.
Mostly I just love seeing the place full of people. Be well xxx