Sunday, 16 September 2012

The gym is not for fat people.

I was recently told of an instance when someone I know expressed their intention to go to the gym and was met with the comment ‘But you’re not in shape.’ This, counteracted with the somewhat obvious statement that that was why they were intending to go, was then rounded off like a perfectly toned bicep with the observation that ‘Yeah, but there are some things you start at home.’

As a recent convert to the gym, and the concept of giving a damn about the state of my body, it is exactly this attitude that terrifies me.
I am not in shape; I want to get in to shape. The equipment at the gym allows me to facilitate this.
I’m not exactly at my most attractive when working out, and let’s be honest, I’m not entirely comfortable being seen in public in my jogging bottoms and baggy t-shirt (I don't claim to understand those who relish wearing skin tight lycra when undertaking physical assertion) so when I’m bright red, sweaty and out of breath having pushed myself that bit further and spent longer than I ever have on the rowing machine I don’t really want to be confronted with bronzed, slim, already-perfect looking people going hell for leather on cross trainers without so much as a bead of sweat on their foreheads, and it would seemingly stand to reason that they probably don’t want to see me either. (Although, I promise fat isn’t contagious)

The gym is designed for fitness, so if you want to get fit, you go to the gym, but in all media, film and television representations the gym is full of already fit people ‘simply’ (I know, I know) maintaining their perfect physiques, which is fine, but also pretty damn daunting for people who look like, well, me. I go to a gym within a leisure centre in the South Wales valleys that costs me a couple of quid each time I go, and I’m lucky enough to be met with a nice mix of people and fitness levels whenever I go, but I must admit to being ashamed of my body in the state it is currently in.

Perhaps it says something about me that it would never even cross my mind that an onlooker might view me positively, in that I’m actually doing something about my health, rather it strikes me that, in my head at least, the fitter gym users are of the same opinion as the aforementioned home bird, and probably use my physique as motivation to keep-up the hard work lest they become like me.

Whatever it is that makes me breathe a sigh of relief when I step in to an empty fitness suite, I’m just glad that I’ve started to overcome the inner demons that tell me I don’t belong there, and hopefully after our Summer of sporting achievement, others will start to do the same, because when it comes down to it, it’s just a room where people go to make themselves feel better, whatever that may mean to each individual, and no-one should have to feel like they should be hidden away at home; size 8 or 28.
The gym is not for fat people; it's for people.