Pulling into the parking lot, I see the nice cars lined up in the spaces; some with the little stick figure family decals (which I think are tacky simply because they are of no use to me). Many of the vehicles even sport a bicycle rack (oh hoity toity). I gaze at the well manicured grounds, smell the fresh paint, and hear the music coming from inside. I think, “Oh Lord, what am I doing here? I don’t belong here.” Hesitantly, I step through the front door. I’m greeted in the foyer by faces; some smiling, some looking like they’ve been sucking on a sour pickle for 14 years. “Sigh. I haven’t even said good morning, and the analysis has started already.” Timidly, I go into the crowded main room. Those familiar with the routine are exchanging pleasantries, giving a quick smile and nod my way. A few more “pickles” are puckering up and nodding my way as if to say “What is SHE doing here?! This is OUR place! Who does she think she is?!” I try to ignore their stares. With shaking hands I hang up my jacket, pop in my headphones, and step onto the treadmill. And so, the fight begins.
I’ve often heard it said that a church is the most judgmental place on earth. Unfortunately, that is true in some cases. However, I believe that the gym is an even more judgmental place. - Excerpt from my post "Mind Your Business."
This superior attitude had been the majority of my experiences with working out in public. I'd been to a couple of gyms that offered free trials before I signed on the dotted line. They were all too intimidating and made me feel like I didn't belong. Sorry, but I guess fitness clubs are for people to stand around and talk about how fit they already are, not to actually get fit This was in the days before JackVegas built our new Community Center and before Planet Fitness and their "no gymtimidation" commercials. That is, until I encountered the local YMCA.
When I was about 10 years old, my Girl Scout troop (shout out to troop 149 Cottaquilla Council) had a lock-in at the Calhoun County YMCA. I know I was just a kid running around playing and eating junk food, but something about how nice people were stood out to me. Years later, I decided to try a membership there. They were great. The Y is how all gyms should be:
- They had instructors who showed the proper way equipment should be used and would not move on to the next apparatus until they were sure you understood what you were doing.. No guesswork or injuries.
- They had fitness classes for every level with certified fitness instructors. (There wasn't any Zumba back then, thank the Lord.)
- Anyone not there to workout was asked to leave. I remember being in a cardio kickboxing class when a group of women came in, sat on the back row, and proceeded to watch, point, and laugh at us instead of participating with us. The instructor promptly stopped the music and told them to either join in or leave. They left. No lunks, no spectators, no BS. Thank you very much!
- There were no "club levels." In other words, you weren't asked to get off of a piece of equipment because you weren't in a particular workout group or socioeconomic class. Been there, done that, you can keep it.
I worked out there for a good long while and had a great time. It was the first place where I actually looked forward to working out and had fun in the process. Financial difficulties were the only reason I gave up my membership.
I visited the Y this past month for a running clinic and orthotics demonstration. There was more of the same cheerful and accepting attitude. There will always be a special place in my heart for the Y.
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