Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Skinny does not Equal Fit

(Or the further adventures of our Heroine in the Gym, observing FM and SB....)

I confess, I'm not looking forward to the Fitness Center being more utilized by our residents... right now, there's not usually more than one or two people in the Center, which has meant no waiting...

There are a couple people, however, that I've seen more than once.

The first one, and I've seen him three out of the four times I've been there, is this huge African-American guy. HUGE. Six and a half feet tall. With bronky, muscle-builder arms and slabs of steel instead of legs. He uses the full amount of weight on the lifting machine (which I think is 200 pounds, but I'm not positive) and runs for about 40 minutes on the elliptical. And by running, I mean running. Flat out, sprinting like a lion was after him, running. It's scary to watch and highly impressive.

And here's the real kicker, at least to me.

He's fat.


Fat. Muscular around the arms and legs, but he has this enormous belly hanging out in front of him.

I'm astonished how he can run like that and still be fat. I wonder if he started out a lot more fat than I'm currently seeing him. I wonder if he used to be an athlete, and sort of went to seed. I wonder if he drinks entirely too much beer. And I wonder if he'd actually slap me if I voiced any of those things. So I just watch him out of the corner of my eye and am secretly impressed.

I think of him as FM, or sometimes, FbM. (Fat Man, or Fat, but Muscular.) I wish I knew his name. Thinking of him as FM seems a little rude, somehow.

The other person I've also seen three times. Once she was arriving as I was leaving, once she came in mid-way during my workout, and this last time I saw her, she brought her husband, and her two homeschooled kids in when I was nearing the end of my HIIT walk.

The first time I saw her (and I admit, I probably imagined this) she gave me that look. You know the one... the "YOU are going to work out? Aren't you a little FAT to be thinking about being in a gym where actual serious people work out? I bet you won't be around in three weeks..."

She is tiny. She has no hips or breasts to speak of, and her waist is somewhat moving on towards barbie proportions. She's blonde with a chic haircut that frames her tiny, perfect face, and she looks as if she's never even thought about eating a cookie.

Of course, I immediately dub her SB (Skinny Bitch).

I spend a while berating myself for doing that, too. I mean, I have no idea where she started in her fitness program. Maybe she's always been thin. Maybe she has to work out every day for three hours a day to support her Ding-Dong habit. Maybe she was once 80 pounds overweight and now she looks and feels great in her body. I can't tell that, just from looking at her in her red and white workout clothes.

She has, however, no endurance whatsoever. I discovered this yesterday at my workout. I was doing my HIIT when she walked in... she gave me a slight, cheery smile and I worked on revising my opinion of her. (Thus leading me to wonder if I imagined that LOOK she gave me last time...) She did some stretches, got her kids organized in the corner with some workbooks, then got on the elliptical. I'm chugging along at a good clip on the treadmill, 3.5 miles an hour on a 3 incline, sweating and bouncing along...

She gets off the eliptical in six. minutes. Sweating and gasping for breath.

She goes back to doing stretches while her husband lifts weights and she stops stretching from time to time to spot for him.

I continue my walking. The biking was lots harder, but I'm still getting a heck of a workout on the treadmill... and then, near the end of my 35 minutes, I was starting to feel really tired, in that warm, achy sort of tired... and then suddenly... I just didn't.

It was amazing.... like that gentle downglide after an orgasm... my breathing stopped being so ragged and my back suddenly stopped hurting and... I felt absurdly happy. Like I could walk a million miles... like I was on top of the world.

I'd always thought Runner's High was one of those... crystal twinkie lies. Like "I conquored a cookie craving with a walk around the block." Like "After a while, those high fatty desserts just didn't taste as good."

I was absurdly disappointed when my cooldown cycle started, but went ahead and got off the treadmill and started my stretching.

"You look like you had a good workout," SB said, grinning at me.

"Yeah, yeah, I did," I said.

"I wish I had that kind of endurance," she said, wistful. "You're in great shape."

I blinked. "Thank you. I've worked pretty hard at it..."

"I can tell."


Becky Fyfe said...

I love your style of writing! :)

Glad SB isn't turning out to be as bad as you thought she might be. ;)

And I love the phrase "crystal twinkie lies."

Jen, a priorfatgirl said...

Great post today! I chuckled multiple times as I was reading because our thinking on this subject is very similar! HEHE...thanks for capturing it in writing!

Jen, a priorfatgirl

Hanlie said...

I really enjoyed this post! I couldn't care less what the other people at my gym thinks of me... and I barely think of them! I'm too busy concentrating at this stage, but I suppose I'll get into a groove eventually and start noticing things.

Anonymous said...

I'm still very self conscious and hate working out in front of others. You are doing great. Love your blog!

d.fine09 said...

Too funny. I have been in the same gym. All types I guess.

Shiloah Baker said...

ROFL! Good post!

I remember the first time getting the runner's high after all these years. It was the best and I'm addicted! :)

Glad your new friend turned out to be cool. I have several of those at our gym.

You are moving and shakin'! Keep it up!

Amy said...

I have names for people at the Y as well! Kind of funny, but when I described one of the individuals to my personal trainer, she knew exactly who I was talking about.

It is also possible that SB has an eating disorder, hence the lack of endurance!

Good for you for working out and keeping at it!!!

You too can be an SB!! :)

KatieP said...

Congratulations on the exercise endorphins. You are now officially gym addicted and life will never be the same. It is a fantastic transition that has earned you the right to call yourself an athlete.
I am so proud of you.

I know all this because I used to feel too big for the gym and now people think of me as a SB!)

Anonymous said...

lovelove your voice...but I always say that :)

my heart just was HAPPY at the end of the post.

kinda silly wording I realize but it's what I felt.

Anonymous said...

How awesome! I love the comparison to the after-orgasm because that's JUST what it's like, for most of the same reasons (bring on the endorphins!)...and I used to think it was a myth too, till it happened to me the first time. I think that was the turning point for me, from thinking exercise was always going to be torture to realizing I was capable of so much more than I thought, if I just stuck it out...

I love your commentary on first impressions, too. Is it our own insecurity that leads us to think people are judging us? And how many cool interactions do we miss out on because of that? Cause I tend to do that a LOT...

Most of all, I love your title, though, because it's so right. I used to be skinny, years ago - but I was NEVER fit. Now I'm ten times healthier and stronger, though I'm definitely not skinny. Yet. :-)


Lainie said...

This answers a question I asked in a post last year: