Friday, July 3, 2009

Show me Your Six Pack

As I was getting dressed at the gym, I overheard a girl crying and talking on her cellphone. At first I thought she was just a crazy drama queen. While I was washing my face, I heard more of her conversation. Turns out she just did a fitness assessment, which is basically how the gym cons people into paying for personal training sessions. Before I joined my gym I read horror stories a lot like her's online. I was so intimidated to join my gym, fearing they would be pushy salesmen but personally I've never had a problem. Then I heard her say what the trainer said to her, and my blood boiled. "He said I could look better in a bikini, I think I already look fine in a bikini! And then he said, "Well show me your six pack." And I was like, I'm not showing you anything!"

This girl was skinny and fit. She was about my size but a little taller, with long full hair, and you could just tell she took good care of herself. There was no reason that the trainer should have said that to her. When she got off the phone she was still crying a bit. I thought back to all the "Operation Beautiful" posts and articles I've seen in the past week. As the site states, "The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other women to find." In my opinion, the Operation Beautiful thing is a great gesture, and a step in the right direction, but being anonymous just seems kind of unhelpful and generic. I realized this was my opportunity to be the better person I'm trying to be and help a fellow girl out. To go the step beyond what "Operation Beautiful" does, and actually reach out to someone who needs to hear some kind words and positive reinforcement.

I should bring up, in terms of "sisterhood", I've been a terrible female. Girls picked on me so much growing up, that I really have a hard time trusting other females. I've spoken a lot of hateful and degrading words towards women, and I'm not proud of it. I've come to realize more recently that the things that men have said about my body and other girl's bodies has really affected me deeply. I can recall vividly all the times guys, and often guys I loved or respected, have said things that were painful. One of my ex boyfriends, who was a very tolerate, peaceful happy-go-lucky kind of guy has said things about other girl's bodies that made me worry. I wonder if those are the kinds of things they think about me and my body. They must have seen the "muffin top" on me that they pointed out on that girl.

So, I was thinking about all this when she was on the phone, and decided I was going to say something. Other women in the locker room heard her but minded their own business. I was scared she'd be angry at me for clearly eavesdropping though honestly, she was talking really loud. Anyway, I went up to her and said, "Which trainer said that to you?" She started talking to me, and as she was, a woman who teaches spin craned around the lockers, her face in shock. She missed hearing the phone call but when she heard that the girl was upset by an employee she was irate. Unfortunately the people that teach classes aren't really employees, as the work like 3 hours a week, so she couldn't really do anything to complain.

The girl went on to say that she only did the fitness assessment because she's new to the gym and doesn't know how any of the machines work. She was intimidated to begin with because it's a new place, bigger than her old gym and she doesn't know anyone. She's confident that she has her own fitness plan down, which she has every right to be because she's fit. All she wanted was a little help getting familiar with the equipment, but the employee, who is basically a salesman, used dirty tactics to get her to sign up for a personal trainer. I don't think guys ever realize how painful their words can be. I'm sure he knew he was upsetting her, but didn't think of the consequences of how what he said could affect her after tomorrow.

I told the girl she was beautiful and fit. I told her she has every reason to be confident in herself, and not let some massive muscled dude with shrunken balls tell her any different. The spin teacher joined in and said to just be "an asshole to anyone who talks to you like that. Just walk away, tell them they just lost a sale." The girl said she didn't know what to do, that she didn't want to leave the locker room. I told her to just go back out there, get on a treadmill and show him that he didn't beat her down. I also told her that I've never had that problem, and that the class instructors are a lot better than the people who work there full time. I told her I've met a lot of nice people there, and that this was just one bad experience and not to let it pull her down or stop her from going to the gym. She was really appreciative and after talking to me for a bit she calmed down.

Sometimes it's so hard to take a little time to put yourself aside, and help someone else. I've been trying a lot lately to be patient with other people and talk to them. It seems so simple, but I've closed myself off a lot these past couple of years. The other day an Asian lady who wants to get her eyebrows tattooed asked me questions for about 20 minutes. She didn't get the concept that the tattoos will never wash off. Her English wasn't that great either so it made it really hard, especially when I just wanted to go home. Other women were watching us, though they were on the other side of the lockers, they could see us in the mirror. I don't want to perpetuate the stereotype that tattooed people are anti-social and uneducated. Seriously, I've had people treat me like I've been to jail and didn't go to college and must wear a name tag where I work. Usually it's been doctors and nurses, and if they spend 5 minutes with me realize they're completely wrong.

Anyway, that was a bit off topic, but what I'm getting at is I'm trying to be a better human. The transformation I seek isn't purely physical. These past few years I've been losing weight, gaining muscle, learning new sports, learning what my body is capable of, the list goes on and on. The progress I've made physically has given me a lot of insight into a wide variety of things. Since I've become more athletic I've inspired people, been able to motivate friends, helped people in a positive way, and I'm so grateful for that. I need to be better to my fellow females most of all. The older I get the more I realize they have the same hang-ups and insecurities that I do, and that we should be supportive of each other instead of giving into the competitive, "catty" bullshit that tends to arise. I need to put the past behind me and stop assuming the worst.


PAULTERGEIST July 5, 2009 at 9:59 AM  

Done and spoken beautifully.

triblog carol July 5, 2009 at 10:34 AM  

Wow, you did a wonderful and kind thing talking to that girl. I will remember that if a similar situation happens around me.

EatRunLitigate July 5, 2009 at 10:59 AM  

I'm glad you said something to her. I belong to a gym that does the same thing (perhaps the same gym?) and, after my boyfriend did the fitness assessment and told me what it was (an attempt to sell you personal training) I decided not to do one. However, several weeks ago I was minding my own business in the gym and this employee stopped me and asked me about personal training. I said I wasn't interested and she said, "well you need it." I asked her what it would do for me and she couldn't really give me a good answer. She just kept saying I needed it. I said "you know I've lost 25 pounds on my own in the last few months and dropped 20 minutes off my half marathon time, I think I'm doing just fine on my own." And she again said, no you need it. Needless to say, she didn't manage to sell me anything.

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