Gym Buddy Allison and I were minding our own business, finishing up our second set of 10 reps of 135-lb free-standing back squats (seriously, we rock, right??) when we hear from across the weight floor, “You know I used to squat heavy weight like that but then my legs got too big. I couldn’t afford to buy new jeans so I backed off on the weight and now my legs look great!” My eyebrows shot up as Allison managed to both hold her squat at parallel and snort at the same time. Whether or not this unsolicited advice was true for the woman speaking – and hey, to each her own, I don’t like buying new jeans either – it has not been true for Allison and I. We have both gone down pant sizes since starting weight lifting together over a year ago.
This did not stop the woman though as she approached us, continuing, “You know, you’ve really put on a lot of muscle lately.” She pointed at me. I blushed. “You,” pointing at Allison, “have always been big. But she,” pointing back at me again, “used to have a cute little runner’s build.” Continuing to address me she added, “You used to be lean and toned and now… ” Allison and I said nothing although my eyebrows continued to climb my forehead and Allison crossed her arms defensively over her chest. The woman finished awkwardly to me, “But I guess you like it that way, right?”
I was stunned. Like what, exactly? I do like my muscles. I love being strong. I love being able to throw my six-year-old in the air and not throw my back out. I love being able to chase my toddler as he runs headlong into traffic and not be so winded that I can’t lecture him about car safety. And yet, I don’t want to look “big” or “bulky” any more than the next girl. And I didn’t think that I did. Until today. This did not help with the I-need-to-lose-10-pounds crazy voices that you know live in my head.
(On the flip side, Turbo Jennie told me last week that my 10 pounds look good on me as they just add a little more milk to my shake. And what are good friends for if not to tell you when your girls need fluffing?)
Although bonus idiot points for managing to insult both Gym Buddy Allison and I in the same breath, rude gym lady. Oh and one more thing, Allison is not “big” and has never been “big” since I’ve known her. She has awesome, totally appropriate muscles and you should have seen her back in her wedding dress. It was hot.
Seeing as today is lower-body weight lifting day, when it was Allison’s turn to choose the exercise (we take turns – moms of toddlers gotta walk the talk!) she picked doing alternating lunges around the track. Just as we were rounding the last leg-shaking corner an older gentleman passed us and said loudly, “Wow, you two look like a couple of constipated ducks!” I wanted to ask him how he happened to have personal experience with constipated fowl (is that like the redneck version of fois gras?) but he was gone too quickly. Although this comment did not offend me as I took it to mean that we both had good lunge form (i.e. heads up and butts tight)!
Lastly, on the way out of the gym our two aforementioned toddlers ran straight into a bank of bushes that they have become enamored of lately. Allison and I were trying to find our babies in the chest-high bushes – our only clue as to their whereabouts being the occasional rock pitched out of nowhere – and were looking rather intently when we hear a jovial voice call out from behind us, “You girls find him?”
“Huh?” I turned around to see a different older gentleman.
“The Easter Rabbit!” He chuckled. I giggled. My toddler, never one to be left out of a good joke, laughed loudly – thereby enabling me to find him and snatch him out of the bushes. And the day was redeemed.
Is it just my gym where people make strangely personal comments or does this happen to other people too? What would you have said to that woman? I haven’t been able to come up with a single witty comeback, even this long after the fact!