Friday, December 16, 2011

Gym Rat vs. Gym Bunny

 {Image via}
My workouts this week have been lacking - I've been doing them, no doubt there, but my eating habits have been so abhorrent - gifted cookies and candies all throughout the office, added to a lack of my usual turkey, chicken, veggies in my own apartment - that my body is just not able to work with enough fuel. My muscles aren't being fed. Thus, my arm workouts which, at their so-far peak have had me working with 12.5 lbs. have this week been shifted to 10 lbs, then 7.5 lbs. and finally - for a few exercises - to 5 lbs. The magic is, that even with this minor set-back, I feel how incredibly light the 5 lbs. weights are to my body now, and now the 10 lbs. are only a slightly heavier push for me than the 7.5 lbs. These things are great accomplishments and I am in love with the fact that I can literally feel my progress within the strength of my body. A trainer approached me earlier this week, stated he noticed how frequently I'm here and how dedicated I am, how I'm doing a great job. I am already well aware of what a great job I'm doing, I feel it every time I finish a workout and can barely wash my hands because the soreness in my arms is so immediate. But it was a relief to get a nod to my efforts without a pitch for said trainer's services.

But the bigger bonus? That I'm slowly carving a place for myself in that weight room. I don't get stared at so much anymore. The guys keep lifting when I go to get a weight on a lower rack, they don't pause and then glance down when I look them dead in the eye and start my workout. There is less showing off when I approach the weight rack - less rats reaching for 10 lbs heavier than I've ever seen them use, because they've realized I'm standing next to them. Maybe it's just that I'm more of a common sight now, but I'd like to think it's because in pushing myself I'm proving myself as more than just a Gym Bunny. Yesterday, after a particularly tough arm series - I had to psych myself up after each set, surely due to the straight caffeine and sugar I'd fed my body prior to the gym - a guy working lifting next to me nodded at me. "Way to keep with it." I glanced up, registered that I was being spoken to without a sexist intro and he continued, "I saw you working yourself up. Good job." I grinned at him, thanked him for the encouragement, and went to finish a set of shoulder work. It was a really great, sincere one gym rat to another compliment. The same compliment I hear the guys give each other when they're spotting or working in. And he respectfully and openly gave it to me.

It's not all roses, I'm definitely still the only girl consistently in there during my after-work sessions. And there's new guys in everyday so not everyone is familiar with my face. Oh, I see  women traipse in and out with their trainers, whining that they don't want to bulk up, nervously lifting 5 lbs, asking if they can go down to 3 lbs., hesitating at the number of reps they are requested to perform. And I'm still a Gym Bunny to a lot of the guys there, I'm sure. I still get called "baby" by one particular gym-goer, but even he steps in to advise on my form, encourage me to use more weights, to kick it up a notch. Because he knows I can do it.

I would love to see more women in that weight room with me, I would love to get tips and encouragement and build a community. But I don't want it to be a community built on celebrity gossip and diet fads and the latest fight with a boyfriend and we should all go shoe shopping and posing and giggling for the gym rats who will once again pause their lifting, once again give looks, once again refer to us as "baby doll." I don't want a community of Gym Bunnies. So in the meantime, I will continue to relish my solo status, and cherish how apart from the rest of those rats I am able to be when I'm lifting. I literally just see myself, my muscles, just feel my own body straining to do more, my own sweat slipping down my face. I get 30-60 minutes everyday where I want to keep going harder, where I want to push myself and make a change in my physique. A chunk of the day where nothing else matters except me and pushing out one more rep. And I feel really lucky to have found that.


  1. Yeah Dawg! Loving this post. You'll have to show me some exercises.

  2. :) Thanks! I will happily show you some moves although your arms have always been stronger than mine!