Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Observations from a public shower

One of the things I dislike is my inability to exercise anymore.

And replace "inability" with "refusal" and that statement would be accurate.

I commented about this phenomenon to someone the other day, and he said "You are waiting for some great motivation. You are waiting to work out until working out is pleasurable. Well, guess what? Exercising is not fun. By definition, it's strenuous. But you still have to do it. It's a chore. No one likes it. Doesn't change the fact that you have to do it."

Ok, that's not an entire quote, but that's a paraphrase of what my friend said.

It was like a light bulb went off over my head. I don't have to like working out.

Now, in truth, my Aussie friend P has been saying this for years. She hates working out, but she does it religiously. And she looks fantastic.

For some reason, though, having my opinion validated that working out is not fun has helped me. To work out. Why? I have no idea. Because I'm mental, probably. Maybe because my mother always talks about how much she loves apples and eating vegetables all the time. And my one sister who adores running and complains how sad she is when she can't go running because her knee is sore. And my husband who loves lifting weights and sprinting on the treadmill.

Give me a break. I love playing tennis and horseback riding and hiking, but the gym form of exercise is dead to me.

Regardless, I joined a gym today. I now workout during the lunch hour.

It's quite a nice gym. The kind with a sauna and a steam room, and hair dryers and mouth wash dispensed in teensy dixie cups and lotion and hair gel and towels, the kind where the staff, genuinely or not, wish you smiling hello's and goodbye's, and the kind with free coffee and tv's and q-tips and curling irons.

And showers.

I went during a busy time, and I was not surprised that there were many other women in the locker room at the same time as me.

I don't know if it's because I'm from the mid-west, or I'm Catholic, or just a plain ol' prude, but I hate showering with other people. It's the one drawback to this gym: the showers are set up in one sort of long room, 8 shower heads, no dividing walls.

There are also 4 showers off to the side with curtains, but (a) I will not admit I am not confident in my appearance and use one of them; and perhaps more importantly (b) when I have used them in the past, the shower curtain static-clings to me and I can never get clean enough after that.

As a result, I was in the shower today with 3 other women. There is nothing good about that except, I suppose, we didn't waste any water and we are now all clean.

But it's weird. I know that as a new gym person I will have to become accustomed to it, but I don't think I ever will.

It's weird. As part of my new self-validation, I will say it again: it's weird to shower with strangers. But oh dear god, it would be more weird to shower with people you know from work. I shudder to think of showering with a judge I have to appear before. Good. God. I think I'd vomit.

At any rate, I still managed to muse about a few things:

~I have quite nice ankles. I am not prone to cankles. That's a good thing.

~I have quite nice hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. I like them very much.

~Unfortunately for me, what was a layered bob hairstyle in September 2008 has now grown into a sad imitation of the Rachel from the 1990s. No amount of styling changes that fact. I just have to wait for it to grow more.

~I need to dye my hair again.

~I can't wait for the French Open to start.

~I need to sign up for a tennis league.

~I wonder if anyone else here has noticed how long it's been since my last pedicure.


Jacque said...

Oh Lordy. I would not take a shower with other people who would see me naked. Never. Maybe that's a ploy of the gym, you want to work out to look good in the shower. Also, I didn't know gyms had mouth wash, curling irons, and qtips. Of course, I've never been to a gym. I'll stick to my Wii Fit. At least I won't have to be naked in front of people. ;)

SaRaH said...

I can always count on you to give me perspective. The thought of showering with colleagues almost takes me to full panic mode and, therefore, makes showering with strangers better. I bet those other women are at home right now coveting the hot ankles on that chick with the great hair.

SaRaH said...

Oh, and one more thing. I hate public showering, but I LOVE the reminder that women look like women and not like magazines and television.

Shannon said...

I could never shower in a public shower without curtains. When I used to be a gym freak I would work out after work or early morning and go home afterwards and shower at home. I have never even been comfortable changing my clothes in front of strangers, I always use a change room. It all just weirds me out.

feitpingvin said...

You should try the mixed saunas in Finland sometime :-P

I could care less about other naked women in the shower or locker room, and I felt this way even before I moved to Europe. But I shower at home because 1) the gym is only a 5 minute walk from where I live and I'd rather not drag all my crap with me back and forth, 2) you never know what kind of foot fungi you can catch in public showers. Strangely enough, I have issues with that...

As for gym workouts, it helps to have specific goals. I train as a supplement for other sports, but at the same time, I get pleasure out of outlifting some of the men, with the annoyed looks they give me. That's one of the things that really motivates me...


Anonymous said...

I don't think your dislike of public showers has anything to do with being Catholic or from the Midwest, because I'm a Catholic from the Midwest and it no longer bothers me. In fact I blame my all girls Catholic school for having turned me into a locker room exhibitionist of sorts.

They were very strict with us about showering after gym class in school. We had those group showers that were completely out in the open, and we were not allowed to use a towel until after we showered, which meant we had to just walk nude to the shower room.

The first day that I had to shower in gym class, I was 12 years old at the time, I was terrified about being naked in front of all of the other girls and the gym teacher. The second day was a little better, but still nerve racking.
But by the end of the first week I was able to be nude in the locker room without any nervousness or embarrassment at all. After about a month I had turned into a locker room nudist.

You might think I'm crazy because of this, but I think it's kind of liberating and even fun once you get to the point that you can walk around the locker room in the buff without a care in the world.

I convinced one of my closest girlfriends to join the gym that I go to and to workout with me. The gym also has open showers with no stalls or dividers. I always shower at the gym right after a workout, I can't stand to feel sweaty and nasty for even a minute longer than is necessary. I had to nag my friend into showering at the gym, she was terrified of the thought of being seen naked by strangers. After a while she became so comfortable with the nudity that she doesn't give it a second thought either.

Don't worry, after a while you'll wonder why you were ever nervous about showering at the gym.

Mary Ann H