I’m judging this shmall asian man in the gym next to me lifting weights in his orange muscle-T, jeans, and Tims…as is the kindly Jewish lady next to me looking at him sideways over the rim of her glasses. I mean really- he can’t even afford to break a sweat. Just an assumption here, but I feel like sweat on orange is not going to be a good look when he heads out of here.
Yes folks, as you can infer from the comment above- I am back at the gym. The combination of me almost dying getting into my dress in vegas this past weekend along with the general anorexia that is Los Angeles county have prompted a return of the panicked attempt at staying away from carbs ( which was promptly ruined this morning when dad asked if I wanted pancakes). As I’ve stated since about highschool- I just don’t have the discipline to become an anorexic. Or- as my friend Cameron pointed out to me- the self-hatred.
Which brings me to the real reason I love the YMCA in particular, over so many other gyms I have ranted wildly about over the years. While my boxing gym got me into the best shape of my life since high school, and my yoga studios have brought me piece of mind despite my continued inability to do a proper eagle pose, The YMCA brings me home. Sitting completely unashamedly naked while fairly dripping in sweat- surrounded by other people, allows a unique sense of community. There is no room for shame when you’re squished between women in a steam room. Any self-consciousness you may have about your stretch marks, or cellulite, or scars- melts away in the face of old women sharing home-made bath salts in the sauna. Prayer requests are lifted up, testimonies given, and in all different languages. The awkward glances and movements of other younger women like me begin to fade as it finally sets in that the old Chinese lady does not care that you are clearly due for a wax next week.
The danger starts to creep in as you realize all your reasons for dragging yourself to the gym in the first place are fading to the background. As you see beauty in curves, in all different skin tones and hues, as the wisdom of women from so many different places- so many different ages, as their kindness spills over; you stop seeing ” all that etcetera” as ugly. The second you’re bent over a bag of ice drinking all the extra water in the sauna, your skin well oiled from the fresh shea butter you borrowed from the nice Ethiopian woman next to you- all you feel is gratitude. And when we all started laughing from someone letting lose-stretching in the sauna truly relaxes some of those muscles-I remembered why I love this gym, and why I’ll come back. These women remind you that health is beauty, and that beauty can come in all sorts of different packages. That to be gorgeous is to be comfortable in your own skin- and to pass that radiance to others around you through acceptance, through laughter, through the good thick kind of cocoa butter.
So tonight when I head back to the gym- to face down the deadly treadmill. I’m mostly looking forward to running around the locker room afterward- jiggle and all, delighting in my own skin.