Do My Puny Arms Impress You?
It’s been about three weeks since I first started going to the gym regularly, and, due to the staff at Orange Fitness, I’ve hit my first major roadblock. When I blame the staff, that’s somewhat misleading. They’ve done nothing wrong. The desk girl can’t help that she looks cute in her blue work-out clothes and this, coupled with how self-conscious I am about the lack of weight I can lift, is impairing my anticipated transformation from stick figure to Schwarzenegger.
Well, maybe Schwarzenegger’s aiming a bit high. Let’s go with Linda Hamilton instead.
Anyways, I used to go to the gym at 9 AM. At that time, there would be about 15-20 people there exercising and one staff member sitting around watching. The staff member was a skinny woman in her 30s. She always wore pink and would sometimes try to correct me when I used the machines wrong. The thing was, though, I felt pretty comfortable with her. I didn’t feel particularly bad about myself when I’d stick the pin in the second lightest weight amount and struggle to do my reps. Was it a little embarrassing having the Korean men walk by, checking to see how much I was lifting? Of course, which is why I’d stealthy switch the pin to a higher amount when I was done. Was it humiliating when I’d see an aujuma lifting more than I could? Absolutely. But then again, everyone knows that aujumas aren’t human.
I had a nice little routine going. Then one day I was running late, so I didn’t get to the gym until 11 AM. The place was dead. Totally empty. I was thrilled. 11 AM would be my new gym time, as I could have the place virtually to myself. There was, though, one problem. The staff lady in the pink outfit wasn’t there
anymore. Her shift must’ve ended. Instead, there was a different girl, a pretty young Korean girl in a blue outfit. When I started going at 11 AM regularly, I realized that it would be just me, a couple aujumas, “Blue Girl,” and almost no one else in the place.
That’s when the problem started. Lifting a slight amount in front of “Pink Woman” didn’t phase me, but I’d be damned if I was going to let the Blue Girl catch drift of my ineptitude. I started to find myself paying way too much attention to what she was doing. If she started folding laundry, I’d run over to the bench press machine to get some work in while she was occupied. If the Blue Girl was standing behind the desk, doing nothing, I’d position myself somewhere she couldn’t see me and work with dumbbells. If Blue Girl came out into the gym and started exercising herself, as she sometimes does, I would go do the exercise bike. That was safe. I couldn’t allow her to see me red faced and panting, lifting less weight than some people do after grocery shopping.
Because of Blue Girl, my routine started to change. Those times when I thought she might be watching, I might lessen my reps or skip some machines all together. Sometimes I’d leave disappointed with myself, having abandoned half my work-out, afraid that some Korean girl I don’t even know might think that I’m wimpy. I wanted her to think well of me. I didn’t want her shaking her head and telling her friends that I made Don Knots look like Rambo.
Which all makes me think I should go back to Pink Woman and the 9 AM crowd. Or maybe I should just grow up and stop stressing out over nonsense. Or, if in a pinch, I could use up all the gym towels, so Blue Girl will have an endless supply of stuff to fold.