By NATALIA HAWK
You’re at the gym, all decked out in your sports bra, oversized t-shirt and fancy running shoes. You’ve already done 20 mins on the treadmill and 15 mins on the bike. Now, you’d like to do some weights.
But there’s a problem.
The weights section of the gym is currently populated by a large number of burly men, all of whom appear to be professional athletes who would be in major trouble given the Government’s latest steroids in sport crackdown.
They’re sweating over the giant dumbbells and saying manly gym-y things like “yeah, it’s Shoulder Day” and “I’m two sets down, man” and “I did half a dozen poached chicken breasts and a bunch of boiled broccoli for breakfast.”
You’d like to go over there but you’re too intimidated. The weights you use are tiny in comparison to theirs. And you’re not sure how to use the assisted-chin-up machine properly… so they’ll probably laugh at you.
Plus what if they start standing behind you and looking cranky while you fumble with that stupid pin thing? That’s just embarrassing. You don’t pay exorbitant gym fees to feel embarrassed. You pay them so that you can confidently rip your shirt off at parties while yelling “THIS IS A ZUMBA BODY.” (Or perhaps that’s just me.)
So you avoid the weights section altogether. You stick to the treadmill, which is boring but at least you can be sure that you are using it correctly.
You then go to the shops and buy yourself some nice 5kg hand weights so you can tone your arms in peace at home with only your cat for an audience. And that’s fine because your cat doesn’t know how to do weights any better than you do. Lack of opposable thumbs, and all that.
You are sad that you forked out that money on hand weights, especially when you think about those exorbitant gym fees. But you ignore your toasted credit card and continue to avoid the scary weights section of the gym.
But I’m telling you now – enough’s enough.
I want you to join me in my reclaiming of the weights section. That’s right – I am staging a coup. And I need others to join me for it to be truly successful.
I’ve spent far too long avoiding the weights section, which means that I have zero upper body strength. If I ever fall off the side of a building and have to pull myself up, I’m toast. Hello sidewalk.
Additionally, weights and weight machines take up, like, 40 per cent of the gym. Which means that I am effectively wasting 40 per cent of the money I pay to the gym. And I don’t like wasting money. It’s why I use a locker even if I only put a hair elastic in there. YOU’RE PAYING FOR THAT FEATURE, PEOPLE.
I am taking my intimidation and replacing it with indignation.
When I see a man who is six times bigger than me glaring at me for taking too long on the glute machine, I will stop thinking “ahhhhhh must escape.” I will start thinking: “How dare he?! My registration probably paid for this machine! I will use it as long as I see fit! (I.e. Not very long. My glutes hurt.)”
I am taking my embarrassment and turning it into pride. Because I’m at the gym, damn it! I am giving it a go. And that’s so much better than all the people at home, watching Masterchef and totally not giving it a go.
When all else fails, I plan to take a female friend and make them conquer the weights section with me – because, as cheesy as it sounds, things are less scary when you have someone to hold your hand (or, in this case, spot you).
And if you’re ever worried that you’re not using a weight machine correctly – a legitimate fear, considering how complicated some of them are – ask the lovely gym staff! They are there to help. It’s also worth considering hiring one of the gym’s personal trainers for an hour or so to figure out a program for you, that incorporates some weights into your routine. It’s usually pretty cheap to get just one session – and nobody messes with you if you have a personal trainer next to you. Just sayin’.
My dream is that one day, we will all experience a happy world where no-one is ever embarrassed to use any section of the gym – because there are heaps of women, even in the weights section Working on their upper body strength. Just in case they ever have to, you know, save themselves from falling off buildings.
Natalia is a writer and Production Manager at Mamamia.com.au. She’s also currently a studying a double degree in law and journalism. She’s completely obsessed with all things fitness, and when she’s not working or studying, she’s attempting every sport under the sun – including paddle boarding, skiff racing and touch football. You can find her on Twitter here.
Do you feel intimidated by men at the gym? How do you like to exercise?