I got in a kind of a quarrel at the gym last night.
I’ve been doing this class called Body Attack, which I’m convinced was named that because you actually feel like your muscles and that date scone you ate earlier in the morning are attacking you… straight up gnawing at your inner flesh (that would be your flesh from the inside out).
It’s a 60-minute “sports inspired” cardio workout where overly decent looking muscular men in short shorts jump around on stage to some 90’s throwback music, which is not sport-like at all. It’s a fabulous time though where I sweat out every ounce of liquid I’ve consumed for the last 24 hours and come very close to publicly announcing that I wish I were dead while everyone else in the class grins Colgate smiles.
And once the 60 minutes are up, I feel like Colin can then treat me to a nice ice cream — it’s really me treating me, but if I let myself think that he came up with the idea it feels more like a date, and you can’t say no to a date even it involves 350 calories.
But in the middle of that 60 minutes, wherein your worst nightmare comes to life in which you actually die because your body hates you that much, I find myself creating arguments with the Body Attackers (that’s what they call them/us from stage) around me who are like lions eating this class up for breakfast. I find reasons to dislike all of them very much.
Too fast. Too slow. Too muscular for my liking. Too skinny makes me feel fat. Too cute of hair for the gym. Not doing the moves with the right technique. Not enough sweat dripping from their nose. Too much sweat dripping I can actually taste it, smells like old belly button jam.
The quarrel that I got in last night was with a woman (or a very feminine man, which I’m not judging at all). Pretty tall, athletic but probably secretly a wimp inside. Maybe never got chosen for the team in the first three rounds of dodgeball in jr. high so she’s made up for it in her early 40’s by working out overtime at the gym and eating next to nothing.
When we started the class I noticed her out the corner of my eye because she was extremely close to me. Perhaps she didn’t know that I really prefer my distance when I’m sweating. She had on, at that time, a tank toppy top. A black one. I kind of even liked it.
Ten minutes into the class, all hopping around and panting along to the music, I look to my left and this crazy lady has no shirt on… prancing around now in her sports bra and six-pack, like a gazelle or a reindeer that left Santa because he was too fat. It’s like she picked me out of the crowd to stand beside so she could look skinnier. It was working. This had me aggravated… a small tantrum was forming in me, I was shedding off years of maturity with every thought.
There are parts in this class were you do a sort of standing run forward thing, then backwards. There is some hand clapping, some swinging of arms and kicking forward of legs — reminders of how terrible you were in hip hop class back when Missy Elliot was cool.
Now there are two kinds of people in gym classes like this. The first is the person who minds their own space, keeps their arms exercising to their full capacity but is mindful of “flinging.” This person is good at staying in line with the others, running in a calculated distance so as not to disrupt the space of someone else. They are well-liked because they go unnoticed.
Then there is the second kind of person. That person has no regard for what the other 99% of the class is doing. You could say they feel they are the 1%. They try and show-off by running further than you, squeezing you between them and some sopping wet of a person to your right — all because they don’t recognise the imaginary lines you are confined to in classes like this. Lines we would all do well to respect.
This second kind of person is the one that always, always, finds a spot right next to me. I call them gym squirrels. Because they scurry all over the floor like there are peanuts scattered and they want to eat them all without leaving any for the rest of us. It’s rude and inconsiderate.
This lady next to me in her pretty red sports bra with her nice legs is a gym squirrel. And she wanted me to have no peanuts, I’m telling you. And I like peanuts because they are nostalgic of yesteryear at the ball park with dad. And you don’t mess with dad.
So last night, I had a bit of a quarrel with her… she got close to me and I flung my stubble arms out as wide as they could go, close enough to nearly knock her in one of those flat abs. I did this three times before I knew she wasn’t getting the picture. So I stepped it up to loud uhhhhh‘s and ummmm okay‘s when we were running forward and she put one too many of her toes in my lane. The American in me finds no issue with this at all. But when it managed to have no effect, I resorted to the only logical thing left to do…
While everyone was running forward, and she had the nerve to outdo me in my own space, I stopped. Stood there like a statue. An angry one ready to kick some and take names, if I needed to. This type of tantrum works really well because everyone notices. And there is a slight domino effect since I’m now standing in the way of everyone behind me who is still attempting to run forward.
Now if you really want to master this move, stand there straight on but with your head pointed towards the squirrel. And cock it just enough to give it some attitude, some confidence. A look that says, ummm, hello, I’m right here better than the actual words ever could.
Then the person will either surprise you and say, “Oh sorry” and giggle and act like nothing happened. Or they will continue on, blind to your act of vengeance. That’s the moment where you are allowed to lose yourself, come unglued if you must. Throw an elbow, lead with your shoulder, say something rude. Whatever you got to do because this chick has had many a fair warning by now.
That’s what I did. Threw a hip punch (I can throw my ice cream hips around better than she can) and let out a few words that wouldn’t make my husband proud. On the other hand, my dad might be quite proud.
And then I got asked to end my class time early by the instructor, which wouldn’t be such a big deal if he weren’t so nice looking. But I managed to describe the situation with real patience to the hus as we walked home. And he agreed it probably needed an ice cream date to calm me down. After all, we did gain an extra 20 minutes of time leaving early.
Now this entire quarrel with the squirrel, it only happened in my mind. But it was so vivid, so detailed, that I thought you should know that I’m not above getting thrown out of a Body Attack class if it comes to it.