“So, how many pounds do you wanna lose?”
She snaps her gum . Her gaze seems to be darting everywhere in the room as she talks, landing on me about as long as a fly would.
“Well, uh, I don’t know, exactly. I want some of my pre-mommy clothes to fit, I want to feel better. But I don’t really want to watch the scale,” I tell her.
“We weigh you you and take your measurements every week until you reach your goal weight,” she says. “We will weigh and measure you today. How many pounds do you think you want to lose? Just guess.”
Gum snap. She fidgets with the paper she’s holding. Gum snap. She mouths something to a co-worker. Gum snap. Her eyes are everywhere in the room, except on mine.
“I don’t know, twenty? Maybe thirty?” I am looking at her, thinking, you didn’t hear me at all. “Whatever it takes for me to feel better, healthier.”
She looks beyond me again, and says something to the girl at the front desk.
“I’m going to have Gina give you a tour, then you can do fifteen to twenty minutes of cardio and then we’ll do your workout,” she says to me, still looking at the front desk.
The place is nice enough, and the girl who takes me through it is also nice enough. There is a lot of space dedicated to only women, which is also nice. I’m having a hard time figuring out why a place that seems to be taking the Curves approach to marketing has no child care available, and when I make a comment to that effect, it draws a blank stare.
The nice girl stashes me at the elliptical trainers, makes sure I punch the right button to start it and leaves me alone. I didn’t think to come equipped with water and the hotter I get as I step, step, step, the more tantalizing the coolers in the front become. I sweat my way through 18 or 19 minutes and stumble to the front where I buy a bottle a bit breathlessly.
“How much longer do you have on cardio?”Gum snap asks. I don’t understand the question.
“I…. I did 18 minutes or something,” I answer.
“Oh!” She says. “Oh, then let’s do your workout. Ready?”
When we reach the weight machines, she tells me what to do at chipmunk speed at each one, saying “do two sets of 15 for me” faster each time and ordering me to spray and wipe the thing down afterwards. I feel like I’m in a hurry, so I push through the sets quickly, and by the third machine, I begin to feel nauseous. It’s mid-afternoon, and I’ve had a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a salad for lunch – I begin to realize that there wasn’t enough protein in my day.
I sit on the floor and a couple of minutes later, after talking to several other people in the room, she realizes where I am.
“I didn’t see where you went, are you okay?”
I insist that I am, but that I’m nauseous, so she gets me some sample power bar to eat. I feel better, but three machines later I’m nauseous again, so I take a real break in the bathroom, wash my face and finally come back out for the last two machines.
Now my free day pass is complete and it’s time for me to be sold. I hate that gyms refuse to tell you anything about their cost without coming in, and this place at least has signs for $15 a month stuck in the ground every ten feet between my house and the freeway. I could have sworn they also said something about no membership fees, but she gives me three possible equations for membership, all involving paying several hundred dollars that day, with alleged incentives for better deals after I’ve joined for one year.
She might as well have been saying “you’re on a an orange train 763 miles away from town, traveling 64 miles per hour with a load of 754 clown shoes that retail for $3.79 a pair. Your membership cost will be the square root of the number of minutes it takes you to get to town, multiplied by the overall value of the clown shoes two years ago, which have since been reduced in price by 37 percent…”
By the time she spins all three membership packages, I’m completely confused about which one is the best deal, but I’m told that I’ll be giving up the one she says is best if I walk out the door without getting it today. Then she changes my deadline to closing time that night, but says she’s not allowed to give me the paper that explains the cost of a membership to help me think it over.
Because I’m too tired, demoralized by how sick the workout made me feel and confounded by the need to do 9th grade algebra to make a decision, I make the only one I feel comfortable with. I skip it. She asks me why and as I’m telling her that it’s more than I expected, that I think I should talk to my husband about it first, her eyes are back up on the front desk, the Biggest Loser sign dangling from the ceiling, the butt of a passing man.
I think I could have said, “I can’t buy a membership because I’m made of plutonium and oatmeal cookies. Please let me eat your barrettes. My tonsils are periwinkle. Neep norp, neep norp, neep norp,” and she still wouldn’t have heard a word.
Thankfully, she spared me the indignity of weighing and measuring me, probably accidentally, because I’m sure the results would have become part of her pitch. I didn’t need to subject my body image to a person who couldn’t stay with me through the end of a sentence.
The next gym experience, which I’ll write about later, wasn’t much more human, but at least it was also free (for now). Affordable gym with reasonable math run by compassionate humans, if you are out there, I will find you!
I’m submitting this post to the Group Writing Project at Mamablogga. Visit the link if you’d like to join. The subject for January is “Me time.”