Mingling with the Gym Buffs

The weather is recking havoc on my run schedule. A little light rain I can work with, but as a general rule I do not like to take on thunderstorms. As a runner I like stats, graphs, anything that helps to track my progress. I believe in the power of well executed statistics. So when the U.S. National Weather Service tells me the odds of being struck by lightening in my lifetime are 1 in 6250, I pay a little attention.

And I figure my average is higher since I run outdoors and the stat encompasses the couch potatoes and gamers who perpetually live in doors and pull the number down.

While the last few days have been threatening with severe weather I have moved my workouts indoors and added in some strength training.

Which brings me to the gym buffs.

I have never been a tiny gal. Even at my peek physical form in high school, I had some meat on my bones. On an all girls team I did not necessarily stick out, but I did not have the average teenage physic.

By my astute *cough* statistical analysis, about 85% of the people that workout at the gym while I am there are male. And not just any breed of male, manly men. The kind of men that talk to the hair on their chest and encourage it to grow. The kind of men that crush beer bottles with their fists (note, not cans, but glass bottles). The kind of man that can bench press me and my extra pudge without even batting an eyelash.

It is always with some trepidation that I enter the gym for my workout, because by my outward appearance I always feel like I am being judged. When I walk in with my Peto Bismol pink shirt and frou frou pony tail there are side glancing stares and raised eyebrows. The men pound on their chests a bit and let out grunts to show that this is their territory, and I am merely a visitor.

My little chubby behind wattles over to the treadmill to warm up for a couple miles. Any longer on the dreadful thing and I contemplate taking a dumbbell to it. Of course a couple minutes after I start the thing I am flanked by two runners who push up their speed to seven minute pace miles after glancing over and seeing that I am merely at a 9:30 pace, in order to show their awesomeness. They jump off after a mile and hold back their wheezes until they think they are out of sight.

At least I imagine their wheezing and chalk that up to my own awesomeness as an endurance athlete.

I finish up my run on the devil treadmill and scurry through the gym and out into the open track area for some stretches and ab workouts. There is a girl who cannot be more then 12 years old out there and I think she looks adorable in her little purple tank and pigtails. Then she drops to the floor and starts pounding out push ups like she is in the Navy. Her military precision is intimidating. I lower my head in defeat and retreat to the back weight room.

It is quieter in here. The bulk of the serious gym buffs are out by the free weight section, so I have the standard machines to myself for a bit. A couple other guys come in and I hold my breath expecting more judgment. But then I notice they are like me, slightly skittish and trying to stay out of the eye of the more serious weightlifters.

I finish up my arm and leg circuit and know it is time. The final workouts for the day are the free weights, and it is time to come face-to-face with the gym buffs. When I enter the main room I am meet with the worst possible scenario.

The power lifters.

These are the ultra gym buffs. They compete all over the country, and I know a couple of them are world champions in their weight class. Not only can they bench press me and my flub, they can do it standing one handed and dancing a jig.

"Hi Clarkie!"

Oh, and they know me too. So I cannot just hid in the back and go through my reps, I have to walk over and engage them in polite conversation. To be fair, they are pretty cool people who really work well together and encourage each other. They look like they belong here at the gym, because they do.

And so do I.

We chat a bit, I let them get back to their massive weights, and I go grab my little ten pounders. It is then that suddenly something in the gym drastically changes.

Everyone stops looking at me funny. They just acknowledge me and go on with their workout. I am almost positive it is because the power lifters who are the kings and queens of the gym have shown me their favor. But I also want to think that it is my confidence in myself that I exude changes their view on me. Whatever it is, I am thankful for acceptance.

Thanks to the weather, I will probably be back there again tonight and postponing my long run until tomorrow. Here's hoping that newfound grace follows me through.

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