Someone asked me to write about a time I had an embarrassing moment in the gym. I really thought about it, and there wasn’t one particular incident that stood out to me, because I embarrass myself every single time I go to the gym. I’m the girl who accidentally knocks her iPhone off the treadmill, which rips the headphones outta my ears and sends the whole kit and caboodle flying across the room. I’m the girl who can’t figure out how to use a machine I’ve used a million times before, so I just walk around it in circles, pulling and grabbing at random levers until someone takes pity on me. I’m the girl who goes over to the bench press and benches only the bar, but grunts and strains like I’m lifting half my weight. I think that might be the most embarrassing thing I do: grunt. I can’t help it. And it’s worse if I have in headphones and I can’t hear that I’m doing it. One time, when I worked at a college, me and some coworkers were working out together in the campus gym, when a male coworker offered to take me through his new arm routine. We went downstairs, where the weights were kept and it was almost always completely men working out down there. His workout was really tough, it worked all parts of the arms and chest. I was trying to look like a badass, so I was really going for it. But at one point, I looked at my coworker and he had the most bewildered expression on his face. I looked around and a few of the students were looking at me, in what I thought was admiration. Later, my other coworkers told me I was moaning and groaning in the middle of each set. I’d had no idea, and I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen his face.
Now I try to keep my noises to low whimpers. It’s not about pain, I’m trying to remember to breathe, in on the first rep and down on the second or some other such pattern. I’m also the girl who does 15-seconds planks and then flops over like I’ve been stabbed. I’m the girl who goes into downward dog and farts. I’m the girl in too-small pants doing lunges down the hallway. I run a 13-minute mile and I have since 7th grade, except for the one year I took weight training in high school. I accept all these things about myself and I keep going to the gym. I tell myself that maybe someone is having a bad day but if they’re watching me, they know it could be worse.