It’s official. I have to switch gyms.
I have mentioned before how I always feel awkward at the gym, but last week, I really took that to a new level. I went straight to the gym after work and actually felt kind of pretty strolling in wearing a cute dress, control top pantyhose, and sassy heels, my Nike gym bag slung ever-so-casually over my shoulder. I walked straight back to the locker room, changed into my workout clothes, and got ready to hit the floor. I realized that I had forgotten a ponytail holder. This wasn’t a HUGE deal, not like forgetting running shoes, or even a sports bra, however, it still takes away from the sanctity of a workout when you have wet, sweaty hair stuck to your face and neck. I decided that I would go to the front desk and ask for a rubber band thinking that having a few broken hairs would be a fair trade for keeping my mane out of my face for the next hour. First though, I had to pee.
The bathrooms at 24Hour Fitness are not always in the best of shape. So while I am not normally a huge germ freak, I do take serious precautions at the gym in order to protect my nether regions from horrible locker-room concoctions like staph and athletes’ foot. So, I spread toilet paper liberally on the seat before sitting down. (my bad knees just can't handle the squat method)
After going to the bathroom, washing my hands, and shutting my locker, I strolled towards the front desk to ask if they had a rubber band I could have. They did not, so I decided I would check the depths of my gym bag pockets one more time before resigning to a sticky workout. As I was walking back towards the locker room, I absentmindedly reached to scratch an itchy spot on my lower back. That is when I discovered that I had about three feet of toilet paper hanging out of the waistband of my workout pants and trailing behind me like a cheap wedding dress.
I had paraded through my crowded gym with a toilet paper tail while the onlookers could only stare, rather than graciously stopping me. And who were these girls in the packed locker room who let me walk out like that?
As I yanked the TP from the back of my pants, I looked up to see three guys standing together in front of the water fountain all staring at me with smirks. I disappeared into the solace of the locker room and hung out in the doorway for a minute pleading with my cheeks to go back to their normal color. It took every ounce of courage I had to go back out into the gym for my workout, but I did it.
After the first five minutes on the elliptical with my hair already plastered against my neck, one of the smirkers from downstairs hopped on the machine next to mine. I looked up. He smirked again. I rolled my eyes. And then I proceeded to do what any self-respecting woman would do in this situation. I kicked his proverbial cardio ass.
I looked at his screen and, with purpose, set my cross-ramp higher than his. Then I upped my resistance so that he looked wimpy by comparison. He looked at my screen and turned up his cross-ramp. I only cranked mine higher. He started going faster. I zoned out on my “best-workout-mix-ever” playlist and got my pace up about three times faster than his. When he got off 30 minutes later, I went for ten more minutes, completely aware of his stares from across the room. I finished my workout and walked out on wobbly legs, smirking at him where he was sprawled innocently on the ab roller.
“Take that!” my smile said, “This is MY gym! I will wear my toilet paper proudly, and I will beat you at any machine out there! Bring it!”
In what can only be a moral to this story, I spent the rest of that evening feeling like crap from over-exerting myself and suffered from a pulled muscle for the rest of the week.
Totally worth it.