Week 2 at the gym. I like it. I enjoy the routine of it. I already feel like I belong. See the same people every day. All that is great. I am learning many things about myself, but more importantly for the moment, I am learning something key about fit people that I didn’t really grok before.
Being fit is hard for fit people too. It’s hard work, [almost] every day, forever. For everyone.
I know for a lot of folks who are out of shape and overweight (particularly very obese people like myself) it is simple to shrug off the people at the gym. We think it is easy for them, because they are fit. We think that compared to them, our fitness struggle is so much harder, and in a few ways, it is. In my opinion (so far!) the hardest thing about going to the gym (or whatever version of working out you do) is getting started and forming the habit. If nutrition is 80% of the battle in weight loss, habit is the other 100%. [MATH!]
The fit people at the gym that go all the time have already conquered the hardest part, which is building the habit of going and the habit of being active and exercising their bodies. The work doesn’t stop there though. In fact, the more fit you are, the harder you have to work to become better. Many people enjoy this work, it is not torture, but it is still work. Lots of work. For always!
I am starting to see the same people over and over now at this gym that I go to, and one really stood out to me so far. She is this pint-size girl, a flawless picture of Asian-American fitness beauty. She is perky and cutely dressed and her hair is glossy and her legs are lightly muscled and basically everything a big lunking white girl is never gonna be. But also…. she smells.
She smells RANK. [This is not an insult, gym girl. You rock. I liked being on the treadmill next to you!] She spent like 5 minutes setting up her music and her towel and her headphones and water. She pushed all kinds of buttons on the machine to set up a 40 (!!) minute session on the treadmill with varying speeds and so on. Then she walked. And ran, and walked, and ran. I noticed that she started to smell. And sweat like omg you would not believe how much sweat this tiny person was exuding. She was heaving her breath in and out the way I do after I walk up the stairs at the Hillcrest Whole Foods because fuck if I’m gonna take the elevator two flights up when I just spent 14 dollars buying two organic free-range happy-life chicken titties…
She was working hard. She was working so much harder than I was. I didn’t feel bad about it, because our fitness levels are really different and I can’t do what she does yet, or maybe ever.
It was an epiphany for me, as a very fat person who has felt very badly about being around the gym. I didn’t think that I had anything in common with these fit folks who have muscles that show in places I didn’t know muscles could be, who do the Stairmaster at five times the speed I can walk, who can hold scorpion pose for 45 seconds and find their zen and all that shit. I have a TON in common with these people though! Primarily, that I am starting on a journey that will (if I stick with it) take the rest of my life. The pursuit of a healthy active body never ends. These women I see every day there that are 60 years old with firmer upper arms than a teenager are solid evidence of that.
So yeah. The work never ends, and that’s something I never REALLY understood until I started spending time around the people I had admired so much from afar. Up close? They’re just like me, but further along on the same journey.