Gym Tips From a Feminist

I hate the gym; it intimidates me beyond comprehension. It’s a breeding ground for competition, body ogling and even body envy. As a feminist (and hypochondriac), I find the gym to be quite repellant. However, when you’ve got nothing else and you’re tired of working out at home to your Turbo Jam DVD set, the gym may be your last resort. As a newly membered gym goer, I’ve been playing fly on the wall when I probably should be doing squats on the wall. Here are some feminist observations, from one gym skeptic to another.

·      The lengths of your shorts determine how much your legs will rub together when you’re running on the treadmill. They will also determine how many men ogle you when they should be working on their biceps.

·      Women not only like to compete with other women to see who is wearing the best gym outfit, but they totally enjoy competing with you at the gym. When your lady friend is suddenly trying to lift 20 more pounds than you, sees you running faster then ups her speed, copies the exclusive alternate crunches you learned at Muay Thai, or tries to take a peek over at how many calories you burned in X amount of time are all signs that the woman beside you is trying to show you whose boss.

·      Your butt spreading out on the cycling seat like strawberry jam on multigrain toast may be gross to you, but it’s definitely the reason someone took the bicep curl machine behind you when there was eight to choose from.

·      Pulled groin muscles suck.

·      Now a serious one: don’t be scared to get down there with the boys and lift weights. You paid for that gym membership, too. Don’t be intimidated- you are there to work on your fitness like everyone else.

·      If you are still uncomfortable, try to find a gym that has a women’s only section. It’s a safe haven if you really feel uncomfortable, or just want somewhere quieter. Use it. Love it.

·      Don’t try to impress the ladies and gents by upping the ante when your body wasn’t prepared for it. Trust me, there is nothing less sexy than pulling a back muscle and having to be dressed by your mom.

·      You are not a freak for wiping down equipment twice…or three times.

·      Make sure that you know what you’re signing your life away for. Ask the sales representative to spell it all out for you. Ask if there are any hidden or cancellation fees. Ask if there is a student deal. Threaten to go somewhere else if they try to suck you in without detailing all the plans. They’re job relies on making a sale, but yours does too. Don’t let just any old plan get you doe-eyed and ripped off.

·      Ask someone at front desk or anyone hanging about how to use the equipment if you aren’t sure. Better safe then sorry (or doing in wrong).

·      Warning! People get naked in the change room! No, really, they do. Do. not. freak. out. This is normal. No, you won’t look like a jerk almost dropping all your stuff trying to remain fully covered with your towel. But yes, it may be liberating to just drop it too.