Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Why I Stopped Going to the Gym (This Time)

It was a steamy summer day in New York City. Beautiful women clad in short-shorts and tiny-tees strolled sidewalks, sinewy muscles sliding under silken skin. Asses on shelves. My hand self consciously wandered to the hot dog of skin rolling out the top of my Diesel jeans. Fuck.

I'm living confirmation of marital weight gain. Like the freshman fifteen in college, I'm proof they both exist. Much like my roommate and I in college, The Surge and I get drunk together, stumble home, arms flung about each other giggling encouragement for 1am pizza pit stops at Anna Maria's. Extra cheese, garlic, tomatoes, sausage, pepperoni, oh my. Thai tai takeout. Pad thai noodles extra spicy and green chicken curry. His plate: 3/4's pad thai and 1/4 chicken curry. My plate: 3/4's chicken curry and a quarter of pad thai. Diet Coke outta the can for me. Diet coke in a glass, extra ice for him. Golden pale ale and blushing raspberry frambois. Milk chocolate covered pretzels. Popcorn with hot sauce, our special blend. Ten dollar hamburgers and a side of salty fries as thick as magic markers. Alone or with The Surge, I've explored the menus in all the eateries, greasy spoons, hidaways, grills, and watering holes our area code offers. And it shows.

It was time. I felt the Eye Of The Tiger. Or could see it. Er...or hear it, however the hell one connects with the eye, I could do it. I'd passed the nondescript red brick building twice a day on my way to the dog park. Had observed the leotarded and sweat panted women and men striding determinedly through smoky glass doors or bouncing in on aerodynamic gym shoes with those new fangled bulging bubble soles. I could Just Do It, as the advertisement goes. Not wear the leotard, good god no one should! But I could enter the promised land and get my work out on.

The next day I psyched myself up. This consisted of strapping on my trusty, black sports bra with heavy duty underwire, double knotting my Nike's circa 1993 and capturing my humidity ravaged hair in a rubberband. The Surge watched me with raised eyebrows, but wisely opted to keep his trap shut. I couldn't have him jinxing the eye of my tiger.

I strode purposefully out the front door and down the sidewalk, the credit card I planned to use for the membership slicing creases in my palm. Five minutes later I was parked at The Read, my local java joint, sipping creamed and sugared bean and pecking at a bagel with extra cream cheese.

Dammit! Maybe tomorrow. I slunk home and indulged in Thai Tai with my rockboy and the Maxer.

Next day dawns bright and early. I bra up, strap on the Nike's once again and hit the pavement. Five minutes later it's me who's striding purposefully through the tinted glass doors to the gym. Score! Monica-1.. Fat-0

Ten minutes and a substantial amount of money later I'm doing my best gerbil-on-a- wheel impersonation as I tromp to nowhere in my cage.. I mean gym. I'm walking. I could do this outside for free. I notice a plasma screen affixed to the front of my wheel - treadmill, I mean.. sorry. I'm watching TV. I could do this at home. The ironic channel chosen by the previous gerbil? The Food Network.

I tell myself twenty minutes is a good first go (Monica-2..Fat-0!) and turn my attention to the row of sleek, futuristic machinery lining one wall. A sign tells me that if I do three sets on each machine I'll look like Heidi Klum in no time. Okay then, let's do this up. I fidget with pullies, jimmy screws, pull levers and slide my substantial arse onto the first gadget. I'm not two repetitions in when a giant, black man looms above me.
"Lemme show youse the right way to use that."
"Uh, okay." I realize he's not black, just a freakishly tan white man. His skin is slippery with grease and I'm afraid his goodtimes are inches from confronting me out the bottom of his size small workout gear.
"I'm Joe." He sits on the thingamajig I've just vacated. "S'like this see?" He pulls the gadget closer to the other thingamajig. "See dese here muscles flexing. Yeah dem dere. Youse wanna see dose in action. Den you'll know you're really doin' sumptin."
"Okay thanks Joe." I giggle self consiously. "Thanks for the tips." I valiantly attempt to continue my puny little workout without drawing Joe's attention. But he's hovering. I move to the next apparatus and try my best to give my muscles the old Joe treatment but he swoops down again for another demonstration.
"You needa personal trainer? I'm a professional. I can help you." He presses a glossy black business card into my hand.
"No thanks. I kinda like doin' my own thing?" Do I really look that desperately awkward or is Joe the ambulance chaser of the workout world, loitering around gym machines until tragedies like me strike? Not sure what to do with the card, I tuck it in my waistband and try to finish the rest of my "workout". But under Joe's watchful eye I feel like the clumsy, fat girl picked last for dodgeball in gym class. When a shapely blonde draws Joe's attention momentarily I slink out the door. Never to return. Monica-2.. Fat-Victorious!

That was August. Four months ago. Every month, between giant bites of the donut I sip with my morning coffee while perusing bills, I see the giant bite Maxim takes out of my credit card. How cosmic. As the bill grows, so does my waistline. But I can't cancel my membership! I'm planning on returning any day now. Probably even tomorrow. Well, maybe not tomorrow what with the holiday season in full swing and all. Maybe it'll be a New Year's resolution. Yeah, that sounds right, New Years.

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Reader Comments (6)


I don't even know you but thanks for posting this! Rock on girl and don't worry about the exersizetheass avoidus syndrome you have going on; we've all got it too! Cheers chick.

November 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKelly
I'm experiencing the same thing. There's a definite lack of motivation there and I have a treadmill in my apartment! Isn't that sad? Everyday I say that I'm going to get on it, and everyday there's another excuse why I don't. Keep on writing--sometimes I feel like you're in my head!
November 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNichole
You need to get yourself addicted to workout endorphins, but you won't feel them until you're moving around for at least half an hour, with a good aerobic workout happening. But once you start to get them, you'll keep going back.
November 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
Maybe the gym isn't for you? I'm a big believer in not doing things that don't make us happy. Life's too short.

I know, I know, I just validated the behavior you want to eliminate...but still...
November 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterVelvet In Dupont
I've been wanting to cancel my membership for the longest time, too, but I keep telling myself that I'm going back. Very soon.
November 26, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterValleyGirl71
whey did you do it.
March 22, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjessica

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