Gym Jam: Notes from a sweaty corner
This is my column for Femina Magazine dated Oct 15th. Do pick up a copy!
It’s so easy to hate people at gyms. Because we live in a world where everyone is supposed to be polished, perfect and presentable at all times. You want to look hot but the impression to be given is that you just naturally have this ridiculously sexy body. That your rippling muscles, toned arms and protruding clavicles just come as a result of you existing. But it takes work. That’s why it’s so easy to hate people in there, even though you might be the chubby girl sweating all over the treadmill, panting like the engine of a Padmini Premier. (I’m totally, talking about myself here, to clarify. Sweating one of my best qualities)
The suburb of Mumbai that I live in, Andheri West, is kind of like a home for Bollywood and television actors. Everyone within 2 Km radius of here is is going to be the next Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan combined and acting skills be DAMNED. What you need these days is a 6 pack. Because nothing conveys your emotions like those weird biscuit-y things on your stomach.
Being in Andheri West, I have also had the fortune of once going a gymthat was visited by television personalities and film stars. Now maybe their eyes are sensitive from all the stage and camera lights they face it’s almost like they’re scared that they will end up emoting from their eyes in person, which they only do for cameras thank you very much. You can tell the struggling actors from the established one because they still don’t have sunglasses on, so they can make better eye contact with themselves in the mirror while simultaneously admiring their own pectorals. As for the women, who show up in full make up to work out, it’s sad that they are still to discover that it also exists in the water proof variety. You go into the gym looking like a movie star, and come out looking like a Panda that has not slept for a month.
Having lost and gained over 100 Kgs in the past 5 years (I’m not even joking, I have more stretch marks a rubber band), I am an expert atgyms. My favourite workout machine is the jiggly machine(TM) . I’m not sure what it’s actual name is, but the jiggly machine has a belt that you put around your waist and it vibrates violently taking your body along with it for the ride. Anyone using the jiggly machine (TM) always looks like they are being electrocuted, but in the most enjoyable manner. I’m not sure how it’s supposed to help with losing weight (can you just jiggle away your fat? But then if you lose your fat then will you be able to jiggle?) I enjoy the paradox of treadmills, where we keep running but get nowhere. I feel like a hamster that’s powering a giant machine that is keeping humanity alive when I’m on it. Some machines are so complicated that I wait for others to use them, watch what they’re doing and then proceed to do it horribly wrong. The system of levers and pulleys that creak in response to my creaking bones is a solace.
As I have qualified, I am far too conscious to be the sports bra with short shorts wearing gym visitor. (I’m talking about the women as well as the men here) They look like they’re in a Sports ad and are doing some overachieve-y like training for an ultra marathon that raises money for noble causes like supplying water for wet t-shirt contests in Goa. On the other end are the ladies in the salwar kameez and sneakers combo. The one’s who will take the elevator to the gym on the first floor. Their best friend is that napkin which is used for everything from wiping their brows to fanning themselves to waving at the gym trainer when they are stuck under the 50Kg leg press.
And then, there is, the chubby girl in the corner working out in mismatched track pants and an old torn tshirt who’s breathing like the engine of a Padmini Premier who’s weird because she has no place on the spectrum, hating everyone at the gym because she will never be as perfect. And hell, it takes work.