I bought my first gym membership a couple of years ago, back when Mike and I had been dating for a few months. My life at the gym has generally been a positive one, even on the days when I don’t want to get on the ellipitical machine and I’m looking for any excuse to shelve the workout for another day: There isn’t anywhere to park! There aren’t any machines open! I don’t like to get my hair sweaty!
The one aspect of gym culture I have never been able to fully immerse myself in is the women’s locker room. Some backstory: my high school never had formal physical education. It was a small private school (very small–I graduated with a senior class of seven) that focused its energies on academics, especially on the Korean kids who had perfect SAT scores (and had carte blanche to sleep in class). My school did offer a modified P.E. course which was just walking to the gym down the street and the boys would weighlift and the girls would watch Tae Bo. I don’t mean work out to Tae Bo. We would just watch the tape playing in the corner TV and eat snacks until someone alerted the group that our teacher was coming and we’d get all upper-cut double time.
Even if there were showers large enough, we wouldn’t have undressed in front of each other, or showered in those long rows. This might have been a specific cultural nuance. I grew up on a predominantly Catholic island with a devout Catholic mother who would force half-slips on me with the warning that if I did not wear these fancy lacy static-clingy skirts-under-skirts people would laugh at me. Now, if you are also of Saipan stock, feel free to counter this with, “Mona, that might have just been your mother,” because I’m sure that I am the only one with a mother who told me not to sing during mass because I was off-key.
When I first went to the gym, specifically, the women’s locker room, I became immediately aware that I was not on Saipan anymore, Toto. Women weren’t cowering in the corner. Here is my locker room operandi: I get in and get out. I don’t lollygag. I don’t study my orange peel pores. And I certainly don’t PERFORM LUNGES WHILE NAKED. Or curl my hair, NAKED. Or poke my head out of the shower curtains and ask women like me to fetch them some hand towels because I got into the shower and realized there was no way to DRY MY NAKED BODY.
Granted, this body issue is all my own. I hate walking to my locker while women are tetrised all over the wooden bench. It is during this time that I say little prayers to the universe like, “Please don’t let this towel fall,” or “Please don’t let anyone judge me for my underwear with the stars on it.” It’s just that not everyone needs to know that my untoweled-body looks like it belongs on Discovery Health’s Mystery Diagnosis. But I guess you do now! And so does the rest of the internet!
And here’s a tip if you’re interested in joining a gym, wait until the end of the month and ask to speak to the newest salesperson there. You’ll get a better deal because these folks are trying to fill a quota and need all the sales they can get. Well, aren’t you glad you got something out of this long rambling?