I headed to the gym today for a lower-body workout as well as Week Four Session Two of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan. Now if my previous pictures didn't clue you in, I'm not much for dressing up to head out to the gym. Sure, I make sure that my clothes are clean and my teeth are brushed (most of the time), but a coordinating outfit and makeup don't even fit into my game plan. I even leave my wedding and engagement rings at home as weightlifting can wear down the bands. The only two truly important pieces of gear are a sports bra and a decent pair of running shoes.
But trust me when I say that it's not like I'm in danger of being picked up by anyone anytime soon. I've mastered the art of invisibility: getting in, getting my workout, going home. I don't encourage people to talk to me, to look at me, to notice me in any way.
I honed this ability while I was 200+ pounds and trying to make my way around the chrome-n-tone I joined in an effort to lose weight. While I was comfortable in the weight room (thanks to being brought up around large, football-playing brothers, the weight room didn't intimidate me) but the second I walked into the sea of machines, I wilted. I'd walk past the row of cardio bunnies, all who gave me the Eye of Judgment as I found an empty treadmill and climbed on, trying to pretend they weren't all watching while I fumbled with the buttons.
Years later, I lost nearly sixty pounds (and kept forty of it off) and I'm as comfortable in a gym as I am in front of my computer. While I'm still bigger than most of the women who workout there (this is Los Angeles, after all), most of the looks come as I load plates onto the leg press or haul ass on the treadmill. But the way overweight people are generally treated at the gym is one of my biggest pet peeves about gym culture.
As I've written before, I don't wear an iPod or listen to music while I run. I prefer to figure out how to either tune out the world around me, or become hyper-aware of everything. I've been reading Brooks' The Zombie Survival Guide and he writes about how zombies rely on their other senses, and I've been working on this very thing. I hear moronically well (I also have an amazing sense of smell), so when I can I try not to rely on my eyes but my ears to tell me what's going on. (Note: do not attempt this while driving.)
Today found me at the gym in my bright pink pants, grey wifebeater and the World's Oldest Black Sweatshirt, hastily assembled from the pile of clean clothes that I have yet to put away. As I started to jog, I picked up on the conversation of a couple in their 30s a few treadmills down who were talking with a trainer who was in-between sets.
Guy: So I'm a Giants fan.
Girl: Because we're from New York.
Trainer: Not the Jets?
Girls: Um, no. We're from New York! Born and raised. Duh!
I cough, suppressing a laugh. The girl turns and looks at me and says something to her boyfriend.
Trainer: So where you watching the game? At home?
Guy: I'm going to [garbled.]
Trainer: [to the girl] You're not going?
Girl: You couldn't pay me ten thousand dollars to go. People in sports bars are morons!
The boyfriend gets off the treadmill and heads into another room. The trainer takes the treadmill next to the girl. I start to run.
Trainer: So you don't like sports?
Girl: No, I'm really into politics and current events. Like, did you know Hillary Clinton was 60?
Trainer: Are you voting for her?
Girl: No way, she's not a Democrat.
Trainer: I thought she was.
Girl: Democrat means everyone has a voice. She's always cutting people off.
I start to run faster, imagining that there's only two spots in the Bunker. I've got to outrun her.
Girl: I'm voting for Edwards.
Trainer: I always thought he was kinda Socialist.
Girl: He is not a Socialist! He just wants to help every person with government money. That's why we have government, to help people.
Trainer: Isn't that---
Girl: Anyway, he's the only honest one, he's not in it for the money.
I push my speed even more.
Trainer: Well, technically politicians don't make--
Girl: And he's done things like in a court case he took away a medical license of a doctor who deprived a baby of oxygen and gave it Cerebral Palsy.
Girl: In fact, John Edwards proved that Cerebral Palsy is caused by doctors who deliver babies wrong*.
Trainer: Well, no, the jury found the doctor at fault and legally responsible. That doesn't mean anything in terms of science.
Girl: No, you're wrong. Listen, it's complicated, you wouldn't understand.
I finish the last two minutes in a full-out sprint.
Cooling down, I wipe down my machine and find a place to stretch. As I walk out of the room, I hear the girl say to her boyfriend:
You'd think she'd put a little effort into her appearance.
I turn and catch her looking directly at me. She blushes. I smile.
I thought I could explain where my effort was directed, but then I thought it was complicated and she wouldn't understand. Besides, I have to outrun her to the Bunker.
*Doesn't this totally sound like a Chuck Norris Fact?