Three months into my gym membership and I still haven’t plucked up the courage to go to the weights arena. It’s just on the left, in a little off-shoot from the main concourse. There’s no major grunting or clanging from its bubble. It’s never crowded. The gentle waft of stale sweat and rubber isn’t too strong. However, it’s the territory of another tribe. A tribe that moves with composed power and rigidity of spine. A tribe for whom every movement, even an exhalation, is a focused explosion. I’m not sure they’ll accept my wimpish form or view, with anything other than disdain, the size of weights I’d lift. No matter that those weights would be a significant proportion of my body weight.
From my tribe’s home ground is the steady, beat, beat of feet hitting treadmills. We stride, pull and rotate on elliptical machines, rowers and bikes. Sweat drips, breathing is hard but even.
Yesterday I was joined at the arm cycle what-ye-ma-call-it by a power tribe guy. I thought he’d crank his machine up to full resistance, but he kept it on medium, cycling for no more than 90 seconds and then off he went to his province. Did I scare him away? Was I unwelcoming or intimidating? A skinny middle aged-woman with slightly pink hair (Temporary hair dye that’s proving not to be so temporary.). Maybe I smelled? I’d showered just a few hours earlier so I ought to be OK. Maybe in lifting weights he’d developed a slight knot in his shoulder and used the rotation to relieve it? Maybe I overthink things and should simply follow his example by venturing into the power zone? Yet I didn’t. I sat there, stopped rotating forwards and started backwards for 3 minutes, then I wiped down the device and moved to a rower, thinking maybe next time.
I’m annoyed at myself. I’m working with weights. There’s a kettle bell and dumb bells by the sofa in the kitchen. Between stirs of a pot or waiting for the kettle to boil, I do arm curls, squats with added weight etc. I no longer use the small weights. I’m lifting the largest ones we have. Also, my husband and I are clearing the site on which our new home is to be built. We’re physically labouring with our own hands and the strength of our backs, lifting huge old wooden stable partitions, the innards of a caravan someone dumped there and, at last count, five bath tubs. I’ve been pulling myself up living trees to lop branches and hauling dead tree trunks. My husband agrees that I’ve bulked out from all this effort. Then he raises an eyebrow, suggests the left bicep needs a bit more work and we fall over laughing. Honestly, I’ve managed to put on some muscle, but it’s still laughably little. It’s not the ‘laughable’ that keeps me from joining the other tribe, it’s more that I feel I lack the credentials to join them, that they’ll sense that I dilute them in some way. Wimp. I really am being a wimp. OK, tomorrow (Today is a running day.) I’ll ask one of the physical instructors to instruct me in lifting. I’ve crossed over work sector tribes. I can do this.
Two Tribes Go To The Gym by Lorna Sibbett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.