Friday, February 29, 2008

The workout. A conversation

I used to work with this woman. She was insane. We still talk pretty regularly through email. We swap information on THE WIRE. We talk about the sluttier corners of pop culture. She is funny. She is real. But rather than giving you this big gush blog about Lisa Marie, you might as well read some of our dialogue. You see, Lisa Marie has recently started going to the gym. Her perspective on gymwear is similar to my own. These are little gems that make getting through the work day a little easier. Read on:

Lisa Marie:
So I have been going to the gym pretty regularly since we quit
smoking I seem to be very grumpy if I don't get some exercise so I guess it's a good side effect of breathing free. Oprah said to not say I can't smoke but I want to breathe free. Anyways I have two observations:
1. I was on the bike doing my cardio thing and the woman on the tread mill in front of me was a big person not fat but she has more pounds to lose then I do. So she has on the trendy designer spandex like capris, I know they were designer because it was written across her butt and it was the only thing to look at. As I was saying she was a bigger woman with only a sports bra on actually she had two on, I don't know why people do that but she was. As I stared at her since there was nothing else to look at I thought wow she has a lot of confidence in her self. I am smaller than her and though why am I so insecure. So my cardio is done and then I head downstairs to lift some weights, getting my swell on. Anyways I see her again and she is on the leg machine where you lay down and the big lady with the fancy pants and then I decided fat people need to wear shirts at the gym. What do you think?

2. People that wear all black at the gym. Really gym clothes are not slimming no matter what color they are but to think you look better than you do by dressing in black your just depressing me and making me focus on your spare tire. I probably wouldn't have looked if you were just wearing a white t-shirt and sweatpants but really these people bring it upon themselves. Talk to you soon

Listening to the Boss, I am having a blue collar day.

Peter:

> Lisa-Lisa,
Good on the non-smoking. I was in this weird tug of war. I like to smoke, but I feel like trash afterwards. So I would smoke hard for 3 days to get the nicotine monkey on my back. They I would enjoy every smoke, but then I was a slave to the monkey...and that meant mood swings if I couldn't get away from everyone (kids) and have a smoke. So I rode this badly timed pendulum for years. Then I saw an episode of Sex in the City where Carrie hooks up with this politician who says he only smokes one cigarette a week. I bought into that. But I still felt like trash after each cigarette. It was easy to go from 1 a week to none a week.

This is good stuff. I have been thinking the same thing. I go to the gym 3x a week if I can work it, and I see all sorts of things that make no sense. There is a woman there who does the extremely tight sweatpants/sportsbra thing. She is in good shape, but her stomach and lower body are covered with tattoos. The thing that is weird for me, is that I am not going there to pick up, or stare. However, if she is wearing something midriff baring, and she is covered with ink down there...I am really put into a hard space. I think she knows it, and that is why she dresses this way. What kind of contact should there be between people at the gym? I have these hotties who are in my vicinity when I am working the dumbbells. Sometimes they set up camp right in front of me. This means that I have to look around them or down. Usually, I work out in front of the mirror because the mirror is the entire wall in my gym. I stand back a bit so that people can pick up iron (that is up against the mirror). I stand back as a buffer for people to pick up iron...not to get between me and the mirror. It makes the situation awkward. Or they aren't directly in front of me, just a little to the side. I'll tell you, Lisa, when quarters are cramped, I go somewhere else, I don't put my ass in someone's face. It is this weird thing...do you want people looking at you or no? Do people want you looking at them or no? Sometimes I watch the guys sneaking glances at the ladies. Sometimes I play the mirror angles and catch the ladies sneaking glances at the guys. It is all very complex. I have been going to gyms for YEARS and I have never landed the proper etiquette. Perhaps a separation of the sexes would be nice. But hey, some of those women are hot. Hey, some of the guys are hot too. Perhaps separate sides of the gym? No, we should all be adults and treat each other with fairness. But there is something primitive, pheromonal and vain about men and women sculpting their bodies in a relatively public place.

Lisa Marie:

The Gym has been weird for me lately. I started going to the gym in high school and didn't stop until we moved here and Mike made me feel guilty for not hanging out with him after work. I have had a membership at Garden since I did the tri [Lisa Marie was in a thriathlon last year] but I only rode the bike and swam and then ran home. So this is what I notice at the gym being an almost 30 year old, married, and a mother.

1. I don't like working out near anyone. I pick my machines based on whether or not there is someone near it like. Like if someone is next to the bench press then I will go do the sit up machine.
2. I take a yoga class and I have been going off and on for the last couple of months but I have been there every Monday for the last month. It seems like a group of people that have been doing it for a long time they all know each other. So last week a new girl showed up and they made a big deal about her and introduced her to the teacher invited her to other classes. Does anyone know my name, no! did they ask me to go to pilates, no. So I ask what is wrong with me. I don't want to talk to anyone in the weight room but I am offended that the yoga people don't know my name. I do look around a lot at the gym but I do that at restaurants too I am just nosy. I don't like when I catch people looking at me.

Peter:

Interesting. I look around everywhere I go. When I am driving I am scrutinizing everyone around me. Trying to read their faces. Trying to see what they are dealing with or what they are about to deal with. When people are driving, they are emotionally vulnerable in a lot of ways. Some people know it, and put a steely look on their faces...but then you know that they are REALLY dealing with something.

I was out grocery shopping with my son last night...putting the scrutiny ON these people. That's how I do. That's how I roll.

At the gym, I look around and people are vulnerable too. This is their BODY. This is the be all and end all of THEM. No cars, no money, no bling...just the flesh. I get to see if they like their beer, if they like their smoke, or if they have let themselves go over the years...etc. However, I know that I am under the same sort of scrutiny. And if I can tell stuff about them, then they can tell stuff about me. They can tell that I use the weights for the upper body more. They can tell that my legs are athletic in a different sense than my arms are athletic. All of my business is there for the reading. I don't like being scrutinized...but I know that I scrutinize...so I look at it as some sort of wacky eyeball karma.

You at least have a yoga class that you go to. In that class, you can probably lean over to the contortionist next to you and ask them if they have ever ripped a tendon trying to get into a certain position. it is always a gamble, but then you have a dialogue going. Soon, people will be flocking around you as you tell them about your triathlon and how you are the woMAN. I would suggest plunking down to another quiet person and finding common ground. You are friendly...and sharp. You could make some other 30 year old mother of 1 laugh her yoga'd ass off. And in the process, ask her what pilates class she goes to. What's up, you'll be a gym class rat in NO TIME.

I work out in close proximity with other people. I just do my best to keep my eyes averted. So much so that my eyes are TRULY AVERTED. I ignore the person. I can't gamble stealing a glance at them and letting them know that they are in the presence of one who scrutinizes. Downside to this is that I can get myself scrutinized.

Here is one that I notice though: SMELL.

Too much cologne/perfume? WTF are you doing? This isn't a singles bar. A mild whiff of some cologne is ok, because that means to splashed it on before you went to go work in the fields, and now you are here with residue. But to show up smelling like you just hopped out of a shower on your way to a blind date? NO. DOUBLE NO.

But the same goes for the reverse. I hate working out next to people that smell like an unwashed, unventilated armpit. It is the WORST.

I am also one for smalltalk in the gym. Bad breath is totally wrong. Chew gum or something...I mean dear Lord, you are there representing your flesh, and you smell like hot air blowing over a vat of rotted cabbage?

And how are those streets of Philly? That is the only song by the Boss that I really like.






And that is when I lost her.

She later informed me that I had written too much and she's gotten bored of it.

That Lisa. What a character.