The gym has been crowded the past few days. Or more specifically the cardio machines have been crowded. The weights and machines have been fairly empty but I guess everyone has overdosed on Pumpkin Spiced goodies and feels the need to be on a machine. This means instead of the customary every other machine arrangement that I prefer I've had to work out in between two other people. It's not my favorite but it's usually not that big of a deal.
Today as I was finishing entering all of my start up info I noticed the guy next to me is talking to me. Take out my earbud and say, "Hmmm?" and....
"Do you really weigh that much?"
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to a Brand New Denise...Speechless Denise.
Not biting her tongue Denise, or bowing to her better angels Denise but literally I cannot make words form Speechless Denise. It was like all of the Denises in my head dropped what they were doing and peeked around their cubicle walls. There was a buzz which I had to imagine was all of them murmuring..."Did he just say what I think he said?"
And because I was speechless he took that as a sign to keep talking.
"I didn't think people put in their real weights, I thought it was like the DMV where you tell them what you wished you weighed and put that in. Or I guess here you could go high, because then it would say you are burning more calories than if you went low so that could be..."
AND HE JUST KEPT TALKING...
Now, of course, as she usually is the first one to find her voice was Bad Denise who wanted to tell him to shut the fuck up, but she was followed by Good Denise, who, bless her heart, is normally right there trailing Bad Denise to make sure she keeps her cool. Good Denise thought Well maybe he has Asperger and doesn't realize how inappropriate he's being and can't help it. Which then caused every Denise in my head to give her side eye to which she responded, "I'M FUCKING TRYING HERE! HE'S NOT GIVING ME MUCH TO WORK WITH!"
By this time I'm softly biting the inside of my cheeks to keep from telling him off. Finally he takes a breath and stops talking long enough for me to get something out. "Are you done?" And the question, the tone, the look on my face, something about the combination was enough for him to realize that maybe he needed to shut up. "yeah..."
I put the earbud back in and finished my warm up.
But I did not finish the conversation.
As I hit the floor to do my workout the voices started in. Bad Denise was full of things to say, "Yes that's my actual weight, did you enter the speed you wanted to walk or is that your IQ?; Yes, that is my actual weight, balls of steel add a few pounds. Yes that's my actual weight, did you actually mean to use your outside your head voice you fucking asshole?" Gym Rat Denise was trying to keep everyone on task, "Focus on the workout. Feel your muscles working. Full range of motion. Good, good." Good Denise, "Muscle weighs more than fat. You are solid. You aren't fat, it's okay, you are fine."
And then Skinny Denise slinked out of the corner she's normally hiding in. "Muscle weighs more than fat is what fat people tell themselves...Finally someone said it. You know you are too big. Look at you." And she started pointing out the saddle bags, the lack of thigh gap, the fact that you can see the curve of my ass from the front when I'm doing squats because it's so round. She's been talking softly lately anyway. Now she got to run free and I could feel the tears...
Bad Denise, "You are not fucking going to cry because some asshole you never met before said something about your weight. You WILL NOT FUCKING CRY OVER THIS."
Skinny Denise was doing the mental calculations in her head, "You could catch the Step class that starts at 10 you know. There's no reason why you need to only do one workout session a day. What else are you doing?"
Gym Rat Denise, "Focus on your reps. Keep your knees back in line with your ankles. Good."
Skinny Denise, "If you started skipping lunch, but just entering something nobody would ever know you weren't really eating..."
Bad Denise, "SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GO BACK TO YOUR CORNER!"
On and on the voices in my head fighting over what a stranger said to me about my weight.
Then one of the trainers came over as I was doing shoulder presses, "Do you have another set?"
"Hmm? Oh yeah, I have one more, do you need to work in?"
"No, I was wondering if I could use you as a training aid for a second?"
So he shows his client how to do shoulder presses while I do my set, "See how she keeps her elbows at shoulder height the whole time? Don't drop them down, keep them engaged. Now watch as she presses the weight up. No twist. Just straight up, then straight down. Because she's keeping her arms steady she's engaged her biceps and triceps as well. Look at the muscle there move as she lifts, and then as she lowers...."
And I finish, "Thanks"
"No problem, glad I could help."
Walk over to do biceps curls and I'm on a break at the same time as the lady that was just taught shoulder presses. "You made them look easy. I'm not even using half of the weight you did and struggled."
I smile at her, "To be fair, this is your first time. Today is my last workout in this cycle so it's at the very easiest for me. Monday I will add weight and reps and it will be a struggle again." I didn't tell her about the first week I was doing them and the cords in my neck stood out so much I told Brent I looked like one of the vampires from The Strain and then got the uncontrollable giggles when I thought "You have a vagina neck!" I wasn't sure she would find that inspirational.
Good Denise, "See? You've got this. You are strong. You are fine. Just fine."
Skinny Denise, "I'm not done, just so you know, we have so much more to talk about."
I put on the Rock Your Workout (Explicit) playlist and went back up stairs to finish off my cardio.
Watched the Pope, watched a lovely Yogi Berra tribute. Sang loudly in my head to songs with lots of cuss words. Pulled everything back in. Finished strong, sweaty, determined and went to leave....
And then he started to walk towards me. Are you fucking kidding me here?
Started thinking, "Channel your Carly Fiorina to his Donald Trump. He's not worthy of anything but your contempt. Don't say anything. Just look at him...."
"I just wanted to say that I wasn't trying to be insulting I was just shocked..."
(Okay, so I'm not a good Carly Fiorina)
"Just stop talking. There is literally nothing you can say that is going to make this any better. The only person who should ever comment on someone else's weight is their doctor. Other than that it's just a no." and then though I couldn't quite get my tone or face to register as pleasant I said, "Have a great rest of your day." and I walked out of the gym.
I'd like to say that I was filled with confidence from the trainer using me as a role model. Or the woman complimenting me on the workout, or that the self talk I did made a huge difference. I'd like to say that but it's not really true. I still cried when I got in the car. Yes, that is really what I weigh. And fuck you for being rude enough to watch me enter my weight and beyond the pale in feeling like you should say something about it.
Though it's nice to know even after all of these years there are still a few new Denises hanging around up there.