I recently joined a gym. I’ve discovered that I need a trainer yelling at me to push harder in a class in order to get a descent workout. So I joined a ladies only gym with lots of classes to choose from. Although definitely different from my body pump or spinning class in the States, it works. I get a good workout, and then shower and get ready there, all while ladies stare at me trying to figure out who I am and why in the world I’m at their gym. When communication becomes necessary, one will gesture and grunt and then grow wide-eyed as I respond in Arabic. It’s fun.
I find the gym an interesting study of a particular demographic. In the States there are these big, buff guys who hang out there all the time with their protein shakes and gigantic arms. The kind of guys I would want on my side in an alley fight. At my gym now, though, there is a new breed of gym rat. These middle-aged upper class women don’t have much to do at home since the househelp cleans and their kids are old enough to take care of themselves (but not old enough to need to get married yet – that’s a full time job). So they put on their matchy-matchy purple velour bedazzled track suits with matching hair ties and watch band ready for a full day at the gym. They may or may not take a class and they may or may not actually lift a weight or take a step on a treadmill, but they are sure to sit in the appropriately placed cushy chairs to peruse the latest gossip magazine or check their email at one of the open computers. When hunger strikes, they’ll purchase a box of chocolate covered digestives (think giant graham crackers) and a Pepsi at the little “cafeteria” by the locker room while discussing what food is nutritional and the best ways to workout. Then they’ll sit in the little salon to get their eyebrows threaded, nails done or hair “brushed” (washed and styled). Then after a preset amount of time, they will done their headscarves and long coats and leave their place of respite. But don’t worry, you’ll see them again tomorrow, only maybe in neon pink this time.
Me, I’m on my way to Zumba class in an old t-shirt from high school and a pair of yoga pants from college. It’s going to get sweaty and gross anyway, right? Why buy nice clothes for the gym? No wonder they stare at me.