Avoiding Awkward SituationsDon't Sweat ItEliza Hurwitz

Going to the gym is always an awkward experience for me. My first time at a gym in college, I decided to try something new and lift some dumbbells. I never lifted weights before, but I figured I was an adult now, I was in college and I was going to get buff. Unfortunately, my desire to revamp my workout was short-lived, thanks to the awkwardness I caused when I stole some other girl’s weights. I thought they were communal weights but it turns out they belonged to her, and she was in the middle of using them. This wasn’t the worst of my gym experiences, not by far. But experience builds character, or at least given me some coping mechanisms. So, here are some common gym mishaps and how to power your way through them.

Laugh Attacks:

Sometimes when I do something strenuous I make a weird face. I don’t even understand how it is possible, but only one side of my lip curls up, my nostrils flair, my nose scrunches up, yet my eyes remain wide open, filled with rage and discomfort. If I look in the mirror when I do this, I know I’ll start to laugh. I know because it’s happened way too many times. There are definitely other reasons to laugh at the gym, including but not limited to: other people who make weird faces, grunting people and funny/weird music coming up on your iPod . One way you can hide your laughter, however, is to pretend you’re working out super hard and just do a scream/grunt. The other gym goers will be intimidated by your intensity. You may only be lifting 5-pound dumbbells, but your scream says, “I just lifted 100 pounds and ran 10 miles simultaneously.”

Another way to hide your laughter at the gym is to choose an exercise that is conducted face-down. Then feel free to laugh away as you get in more of your workout. You can also get your silliness out by running on the treadmill extremely fast. It is pretty much impossible to laugh and run at the same time, so by turning the treadmill up to an insanely high intensity might cause you to cry instead of laugh.

Sweat Attacks:

I sweat an embarrassing amount, both in real life and even more so in my gym life. Sometimes I’ll get done with a workout and look at myself and be like, “What happened to you? Where have you been, and why do you look like you’ve been attacked by a hose used to put out fires?” Luckily, gyms provide you with the perfect means to hide your sweat – namely towels, and lots of them. Towels allow you to turn your disgusting sweatiness into a beautiful and unique towel dress, pantsuit, blouse or head wrap, and free you to parade around the gym displaying your design with confidence.

I know wrapping yourself up with a towel isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially when others are watching. You may feel pressure to create a gorgeous towel design under the watchful gaze of other gym goers. Maybe you can’t always deliver your best under such extreme stress. Or maybe you just sweat too much and no amount of towel dress will cover you. So, another option is to wear your sweat proudly. Think of your sweat as part of a reward for working out and wear it like a badge of honor. Your sweat is a nonverbal way of saying, “I’m hardcore. Don’t mess with me.”

Machine Attacks:

There are so many confusing, complicated and intimidating looking machines at the gym, but there is no reason fear should keep you from trying all of them. There have been so many times when I don’t know how to use a machine and I just sit there for a good ten minutes trying to adjust every setting. After that, I feel like I’ve gotten a sufficient mental workout and a decent physical workout from just reconfiguring the machine. I am generally pretty good at deluding myself, but I know  this is not true. So, if you run into the common problem of choosing a machine and are unable to figure out a way to work it, you can always make up your own exercise using the machine. This allows you to add your own unique flair and flavor to this piece of equipment, and hopefully you won’t injure yourself. Another option, of course, is to ask someone else for help.

I think it’s important to remember that no one is watching or judging you at the gym. People are there to focus on themselves. So, no matter how much you laugh, sweat or cry out of frustration or confusion, know that you are your own worst critic, and best personal trainer/motivational cheerleader.

Featured image via Shape Magazine.

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  1. ………BAHAHAHA! machine attacks: YES. Way too often, I find myself sitting there adjusting everything to the ‘short person’ setting…when I finally realize that I myself am too short for the ‘short person’ setting. Dang it.

  2. Thank you so much for writing this article! Completely agree with all of these and if I could add one more it would totally be: Hair Attack! I don’t care how wonderful my ponytail looks when I walk out of the house by what feels like minute 4 of walking into the gym I’m all flyaways and frizz. If the sweat pouring off my body wasn’t gross enough to deal with…

  3. As a lesbian, I have to laugh at girls who think they look gross when they sweat. There is nothing hotter than a chick who’s skin is flushed, hair’s all messy and and she’s dripping wet. Just sayin’…

  4. I sweat. I don’t glisten, I pour with disgusting sweat. And even though I feel great after a work out, I’m still gross and the thought of being around people makes me shudder! I do Zumba at home, but eventually, I’ll have a different living situation that requires me to get my exercise regimen in at a gym, which is so scary. But yes, like you, my bestie says that No. One. Cares. Everyone is gross and everyone is doing their own thing, so it doesn’t matter. I think I’ll enjoy my at-home workout for as long as possible.

  5. Laughed so hard reading this. I’m a hot person by nature. I start sweating at 70 degrees. When I workout, it’s so much worse. I look like a drowned rat when I get done. Given I know you aren’t supposed to look pretty after a work out, but looking like i jumped in a pool, is that natural? Trying to get my sweaty clothes off to shower, I seriously need the jaws of life.