There Are A Number Of Things That Make Me Avoid The Gym Like The Plague

Abdullah AL-Naser
Abdullah AL-Naser

I used to have a really banging body. True to the aphorism that youth is wasted on the young’uns, I had no clue I had a great body, so I covered it the way you were supposed to in the 90s: with plaid flannel overshirts over overalls under Dickies coveralls. Sometimes I’d accessorize with steel-toed, day-laborer work boots. The union-dues-paying slampiece I was, I looked either like I’d just fucked in a shed or fixed one. (Trust me, this is how it was done back in the days of grunge. You weren’t a somebody until nobody loved you.)

A notable exception to the emotionally detached plumber look was the torrential yet brief affair I had with Cross Colours – a socially conscious pan-African-styled street brand that doubled as a platform for discussing the racial issues of the day. It was marginally like those heartwarming United Colors of Benetton ads that showed black people and white people making handshake deals.

I wore the striped Cross Colours leotards sans bra and only raised the social consciousness of my high school’s Magic: the Gathering crowd. (I didn’t get my real boobs till my mid 20s, so this was a totally acceptable thing to do in public.) I also had a pair of slow-children yellow CC jeans. CC stuff was great because, like the mix-n-match Multiples clothing line for children in the 80s, you could dress yourself in a blind frenzy in a dark shed, and no matter what you grabbed, you’d always look like a put-together Ethiopian flag.

Anyway, that body didn’t last long, and by the time I reached 30, I’d been bestowed with a brand-new iteration of what I supposed technically constituted a human form. This new body had the same landmarks as my old one, so I could get around it just fine, except the landscape had changed. The taut tummy that once resembled a crisp, fitted bed sheet now looked more like rumpled linen tossed over Edie Beale’s abandoned estate furniture.

Bodily lines that once undulated – UNDULATED, DO YOU UNDERSTAND? – seemed more like artistic abstractions of sexuality. Nowadays my chest appears as though it’s crying my boobs; time was when it appeared to be throwing them up. I assume a consolation prize from God is forthcoming.

Before I answered “petite,” and now I’m stumped on how to describe my current body type, so I often rely on the old standard – celestial – since I have the measurements of a sultry, heaving planet. Before I wanted a bad boy; now I’ll take anyone who appreciates rings and moons. As the Polish saying goes, my body is “newly kluski,” which means I must adjust my behavior and expectations. I’m mature enough to realize that all of this is a part of getting older. But frankly, I resent the implication.

I already resent that I have to engage in physical activity to increase my lifespan and regulate my wake-sleep cycle. But now I have to do it just to stop accruing more lumps. And while I understand the phrase “get into shape,” it is yet another thing I resent. What does it mean? That my body doesn’t have its own shape, it just conforms to whatever container it’s in, like gravy? Ugh.

Most of all, I resent professional gyms – specifically, all 1,000 of their mirrors and reflective surfaces. This is the reason I don’t subscribe to one. It’s hard enough to exercise, but having to look at myself while I work out is its own special Hell, like that time I caught the shiny reflection of my forehead in the TV screen during the scene of Sophie’s Choice where Streep is waffling about which kid to give to the Gestapo, while in the background, my giant forehead bobbed and glinted. The whole thing made me want to cry.

When I am huffing and puffing on the treadmill like an asthmatic villain, I would prefer not to see the wobbly bits jiggle like Jell-O or the nibbly bits pop through a carefully constructed Fort Knox nipple inhibitor of bra, sports bra, and tank top. In fact, I prefer to have an out-of-body workout experience… a workout-of-body experience, if you will.

Why all this moaning and complaining? What do I want? Dagnabbit, I want a fat gym! Not “Curves,” where I feel like I’m sweating and grunting at a tea party in Shreveport. I want a real gym, maybe a place called Large Planet Bounce, with all the regular equipment of a YMCA but dark enough to where they could install an oyster bar. I imagine the walls covered in a matte coating of Ralph Lauren paint – no semi-gloss. No glass tables littered with cheesy, burnished art objects where I could accidentally catch a glimpse of my forehead. The windows would allow in light while behaving like giant Kindle Paperwhites.

Also, light shining through pool water that makes my thighs look half as long and twice as thick? You can go to hell. Large Planet Bounce won’t tolerate that kind of refraction. And absolutely NO TILES in the bathrooms. I want to shower in peace, not get bombarded with hundreds of distorted, naked mini-me’s.

To Gold’s, LA Fitness, & Wherever Else All The Mirrors Are: Please, don’t try to force me to look at myself all the damn time. One glance a day in the early morning when I’m too groggy to see straight is all that’s necessary. TC mark

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