In Which Ashley Goes to the Gym for the First Time In Months

I’ve always been some sort of “skinny.” I’ve never been a beanpole or had what my mom refers to as “chicken legs,” and though I sometimes wished my thighs were a little smaller or my arms and stomach a bit more toned I’ve never quite worried about my weight. I was always content to assume that I had my mother’s former-model-skinny-esque metabolism and enjoy nachos and tacos on the regular.

That is, until the past four years or so. As you may know, depending on how well you know me, my father died when I was 19, at age 47 from complications that most definitely were rooted in his weight and unhealthy habits. This, and the 15ish pounds I gained during my college years were a little wakeup call. I needed to get off my butt and at least get a bit healthier, and if I lost a little poundage in the process all the better.

So I joined a gym.

Then I stopped going. Around May I think. So I did a month of Zumba, then I was in a play and couldn’t make the classes. Then the play ended and I joined JAZZERCISE and grooved my butt around to Lady Gaga before being cast in another play that had practices during classes.

Then I joined another gym, closer to work, with the idea that I’d go after work but before play practice.

Then I stopped going. Around November.

It’s a new year, and I’m not immune to the pressure from all these resolutions to better yourself. So I decided that yesterday, instead of sitting in the corner of my favorite pre-play-rehearsal hangout spot and noshing on the cheesy bacon roasted potatoes I loved, I would take my extra bit of free time and go to the gym.

My gym bag was still in my trunk, where it’s been since October, after all. So after work I made the short drive to the gym and confidently scanned my still-new-looking membership card and made my way to the locker room.

Upon opening my gym bag, I noticed the following things:

  • I had forgotten my ipod and headphones
  • I had forgotten a sports bra
  • I had forgotten a fresh bottle of water
  • I had forgotten deodorant
  • I had no towel
  • The entire contents of my gym bag were disgustingly moist

Apparently, I had a water bottle in my gym bag that had frozen, expanded, broke, then melted, soaking all of my clothes for god knows how long. Two magazines had also suffered casualties, and their brightly colored pages were now a lump of mush in the bottom of the bag. The faint mildew odor made me want to vom in my mouth a little.

But, like the determined little New Years Gym Goer that I am, I decided to rough it out anyway. No bra was clearly better than an underwire bra when I had no sports bra, and so I put on the tightest, driest exercise tank top in the bag. Thankfully my sneakers had escaped the flood–there is nothing worse in my mind than soggy shoes, except maybe soggy jeans. I grabbed one of the falling-apart, sweat-scented magazines from the communal reading rack and started on one of the elliptical machines.

Within minutes I already had a thin layer of sweat-glaze covering my body. This did not help the mildew smell. I don’t generally sweat much, but apparently when you haven’t been to the gym in months your body decides to spaz out on you a little. Not to mention the fact that my ladies were jiggling all over the friggin place in front of me–making me wildly uncomfortable for a multitude of reasons. I grabbed the stationary handles and pointed my chest downward, as close to the console as possible and fiercely prayed the two women I’d noticed from work didn’t decide it was elliptical time within the next 30 minutes.

Instead of reading the 2009 Summer Issue of Real Simple that I’d grabbed I stared at my glistening face in the reflection of the television in front of me (DAMNIT did I regret not grabbing headphones!) and contemplated ways to clean myself before I went to play practice. I had no towel, no soap, and no cash to borrow a towel from the front desk. I was about to go straight to play rehearsal and did not want my costumes I’d be wearing for the next three nights to smell like mildewy sweat. I decided to overload myself with paper towels, jump into a shower stall with a handful of hand soap, and try to rinse off the important bits enough to smell decent and pat myself dry. Brilliant use of resources, I know.

After thoroughly wiping down my machine and ending my workout with 20 minutes on the bike, I booked it to the locker room and filled my arms with paper towels. I walked determinedly to the shower stalls only to realize the showers had no stalls. It was just a shower with a curtain.

My plan was thwarted by the fact I was not about to wrap myself in paper towels to make the trip from the changing room to the shower and back again. Instead, I hunched over the sink and bathed myself as if I were a raccoon of some sort–splashing water on my face and under my arms and hoping upon hoping nobody turned the corner and saw me in such a state.

If anyone noticed any lingering mildewy sweat smell at rehearsal they were kind enough not to say anything.

TOMORROW WILL BE DIFFERENT! I WILL RETURN! I vowed to myself, and upon coming home from play rehearsal at 11pm I found alternate gym clothes, packed my gym bag and… left it at the foot of my bed this morning.

Next week, gym, I promise, I’ll be better prepared for you. Just you wait!

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