On Being the Fat Girl at the Gym

Looking around, I realize I should have done my hair. This is not an exercise class. It is an audition. And I am bombing.

Can I run a mile? All at once? No.

I’m sorry, did you say twenty push-ups? How about three?

Chin-ups? Definitely not. But if you slide over that janitor’s bucket, I bet I can hang from the bar.

I can tell by the look on the trainer’s face, she wishes I would go home. If I asked to buy a shirt with the gym logo on it, she would probably pretend they were out of my size. That is, if they even stock my size.

It is no fun being the fatty at the gym.

In ten years as a mom, I have gained and lost hundreds of pounds. When I am pregnant, I eat too much cake. When I am breastfeeding, I sport triple Ds. But I have weaned my last baby and donated my maternity clothes. The yo-yo of pregnancy weight gain and loss is over (I hope). I am ready to reclaim my body. Except this gym doesn’t seem interested in my kind of body at all.

On the membership application, there should be a disclaimer: Don’t join this gym until you first join another gym to prepare you for this gym.

Despite the rowing machines and the multitude of dumbbells, this is not a place to get in shape. This is a place where people who are already in shape come to work out. It is a place for beautiful people to congregate and look awesome together. Don’t get me wrong: I would love to be a member of this club.

Except I can’t. I am never going to be a size zero. I wear jeans with an elastic waistband. They wear cross back halters and bedazzled yoga pants. I am happy when I find shorts that don’t chafe my thighs. I am the sweatiest person in here by a factor of ten. And I only did seven crunches.

A little shame isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes it can be helpful to work out with folks who embody the goals I have for myself. But my gym mates all appear to be on perpetual juice cleanses. It would be nice to walk in and lift with someone who looks like me, someone else battling her way back from the baby-making brink.

So big women of the world, unite. I don’t care if your belly jiggles or your butt sags. Find the sexiest, coolest gym you can, and go there with gusto. And if you happen to live in Southern California, I will meet you there. I will be the one in the corner with frizzy hair and sweat rings down my back, but I promise to make you look good. I will pace you during the mile run and give you a boost to reach that chin-up bar. No one should have to do this alone.

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