A casual-to-moderate gym devotee, I’ve always been intrigued by who goes to the gym. It’s so fascinating to watch what machines people gravitate toward, and which classes are perpetually overcrowded. I was under the impression that you could tell a lot about person by observing these things. But it turns out, the gym floor isn’t where you see people at their most vulnerable, it’s actually the sauna. (The women’s sauna specifically because I haven’t had the privilege of being in the male sauna.) Though I’ve been a member of my current gym for well over a year, I hadn’t ventured into the sauna room until last week. A stifling box full of body odor and sweat simply didn’t seem all the appealing to me. (It has also taken me this long not to run for the door like a bat out of hell as soon as my workout sessions ended.) However, like 90% of New Years resoluteness I’ve decided that 2015 is the year that I gather myself in order and whip my thunder thighs into shape. Tragically this means hanging about New York Sports Club for at least an hour.
I’ve vowed like many others while sipping my green juices and counting my calories to be more in tune with my health. And yet, as a Black woman I wonder if it goes beyond the health factor. In fact I know that for me it goes beyond health. As women, we strive for perfection, to have just the right amount of hips and butt, just the perfect handful of breasts without a roll, or stretch mark or piece of cellulite in sight. I feel like there is a constant cycle of questions about my body in my head. How should my body look? How do I think it looks? How does everyone else perceive it?
If I’m honest with myself, I’ve been overly obsessed with my weight since college. Like most women, I’ve been aware of my body and how it looks compared to others since puberty. In an effort to be “thin”, I’ve not eaten, I’ve juiced, I’ve dieted, I’ve worn corsets and so on and so forth. At first I tried to get away with not working out. (In my eyes, sweating was the devil.) Senior year of college, I chopped of all of my hair and I no longer had an excuse so I began running. Initially, I was barely making it a mile before feeling like the end was near, and now over two years later running I can run three miles without too much effort. (Of course this is when I’m in one of my gym going friezes which constantly ebbs and flows.) So now I have a tolerable relationship with exercise but my internal wars that I have with my body are a whole other situation.
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