Saturday, January 28, 2017

Navigating the gym as a fat woman

Now something you might not know about me is that I'm a member of my local gym, and have been for very close to ten years now. My mum and I signed up in around February of 2007 and have been regular members of the Bannatynes near my house ever since then. We used to go swimming before that, at my local pool, and swimming is what we most often do at the gym.

When we signed up, we were given a tour to orient ourselves. Our gym has the changing rooms, the pool, and the cafe downstairs. We sometimes have a drink at the cafe, but not often, but when I have been, the food is delicious and fairly priced. The staff on the front desk are always polite and greet us happily when we speak to them. The changing rooms are divided into men's and women's, and there is also a family changing room if required. The women's changing rooms have two cubicles if you wanted to change in privacy, but to be honest I just use my towel and don't care too much about it. If other people have a problem looking at my body, well, they can just look away.

The changing rooms lead on to the pool and ours is lovely. It has a slow side and a fast side and children are allowed in at certain times but to be honest they're never too bad or rowdy. There are two Jacuzzis and a bubble pool, and two steam rooms, a sauna, and a deep relaxation room, which is warm but not hot and which smells of eucalyptus and lavender. That one's my favourite room. Sometimes when we're swimming they'll turn the lights down, leaving strip lighting which changes colour which is a bit like being at a watery disco - I love it!

Upstairs - there are stairs and a lift - is the gym itself and a separate beauty salon where they do treatments too. We were introduced to all the equipment but there was no pressure on us to sign up to anything. We sometimes both do a work out - I like the bikes best. There's also a few studio rooms - one has bikes in for spinning classes, but the others are all empty and are for dance and tai chi and things like that.

The whole place has a lot of different classes going on. For quite a while my mum and I did aqua aerobics, which had a great instructor who worked to all different kinds of abilities. I would actually quite like to get back to that this year, I might see when the classes are on. There's no pressure to sign up to any classes though.

Also, in the gym area, there are always staff members around but they don't pressure us into anything. At one point my mum wanted some help with strengthening her shoulder, so someone set up a workout for her, but there's never anything about weight loss. I don't feel like I'm not welcome there at all. I love swimming and always have, and while usually when my mum and I go we chat the whole time, I also like to go alone. I like to swim and think!

Now, I don't think everyone has to exercise, and I also realise that some people have had very negative experiences. I also am sure that there are gyms where someone like me wouldn't be welcome, where staff may look down their nose at me, and where I would feel like I stuck out. That's never been the case at mine, though, so I would encourage people to maybe investigate their local gyms and see how they work. If it's something you'd like to do because swimming or cycling or walking on a treadmill, or even just sitting in a hot room with your thoughts, makes you happy, then please please see what your gym is like. Come to mine! I'll swim with you!

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