I started going to the gym when it wasn’t really all that cool. I worked out among men for the most part. That was back in 2002. Fast-forward 16 years and some people call the gym the new club. Who doesn’t work out?! I witnessed the hookups during my gym-rat days though, which extending to approximately 2014.
It’s funny how fitness has exploded. I worked out at Gold’s Gym – the one know for being a “body-builder’s gym” – it had just opened so when I enrolled, I kinda felt like the gym was mine. Gradually, more and more women and men started coming in. As a people watcher, I naturally enjoyed the phenomenon of the gym as not only a place to sweat, but a hook-up joint, too.
Men and women alike fell into one of two categories – those that were there to socialize and “hook-up” and those, like me, who were there to meet challenges, work damn hard and enjoy the mental benefits of a good, long run. I wasn’t ever, ever going to dare do damage to my self image and be just another slut – forced to quit my gym because I had a one night stand with one of the muscle-bound dudes that joined after me – and couldn’t return because everyone knew. Yes I witnessed this. Psssshhh!
I still attracted my fair share of attention and invites for dates, but this was my gym, you are in my territory and no, I’m not going to meet you for a drink. I think some people must of seen me as anti-social or maybe even awkward, yet I was there to do work for me and it was all about me.
My drive was fueled initially by fear, actually. Even though I played basketball, volleyball and ran track and field, I was deeply afraid of running. Just running, nothing else. I had this fear for years that my body would give out for some reason and I had to challenge this fear head on.
I started off only being able to run for about eight minutes, but everyday I tried to push longer, challenge myself with running at an incline eventually. I reminded myself to smile while I ran, hoping this trick would convince my brain that the burning in my thighs was worth it. I came close to being able to run, alternating inclines to about a 2.0 and back to 0.0, off and on for 45 minutes straight.
I ran every time I went to the gym – even after having some Vodka and Red Bull drinks at happy hour. I felt disgusting if I didn’t exercise and I shared this with the one and only guy I let in during my time at that gym. See he was a trainer and he wanted to help me get in the best shape of my life. (But he liked me,too.) We connected through our occasional workouts together and I attended one of his friends bachelor’s parties, which was very awkward to say the least. But he genuinely guided me and helped me spend some of my time actually using gym equipment and free weights, besides the treadmill.
He gave me upper and lower body workout regimens. I was apprehensive about weights as many women used to be. But he assured me, I wouldn’t get big, I would just get stronger. My body transformed to the point that everyone knew I spent time at the gym and at the time, only a few women shared the space with all the weight machines, ropes and dumbbells with me.
Chuck was his name. He told me his story. He said he was a fat kid and the teasing he must of had, led him to be one of the most dedicated fitness enthusiasts I’ve ever met. He know owns Titanium Fitness, a start-up he and his wife began seven years ago. Chuck challenged me further than beyond running. For three months I trained everyday after work and on the weekends for what should be called a hot body contest. It was actually named the Show-Me Naturals and I was training for the Figure Competition and the year was 2006.
He gave me a strict diet to follow, a homemade video to watch of other figure competitors and a female friend named Kate, who taught me the poses I would need to do once onstage.
The commitment it took was quite a challenge. I got sick of being at the gym so much. On the day of the competition, with my body painted, yes painted, a deep brown, I started to doubt my looks so much that I almost didn’t even go. I had two very revealing “outfits” to wear, custom-made for my measurements. (My mom stitched padding in the breast area tho.) After all that running and dieting, my breasts seriously paid the price.
The royal blue, sequined one-piece was my first outfit. The black rhinestone two-piece was my second. They fit me perfectly and wearing them made me feel like a warrior.
The day of the show started early. Five of us girls were competing that day. We were lined up according to height and I actually ended up being the tallest – and I’m only 5’7.” Not sure what this was for, but anyway I was like hell yeah, I’m the tallest, I got this! I even had invented a little kick that I planned to do as I turned to exit left-stage.
After lining up, we were sent back to “pump up” our muscles. I focused mostly on my abs. Than a run through of our performance. I was the last to enter the stage. We practiced our poses, paid our entry fee and went home for several hours before the pageant started.
Chuck called me and said he couldn’t make it, but wished me the best and expressed how proud he was that I followed through with it. I wasn’t thrilled about the news – feeling rather abandoned.
At home a practiced my poses in my blue sequin one-piece in the mirror. I styled my hair into a simple side ponytail and ravaged the refrigerator, eating bits of lasagna and whatever else I found. I hadn’t had but oatmeal, eggs, plain chicken and green beans for there months. Oh the ricotta cheese tasted so good.
This actually was NOT what I was supposed to do at all! Why would I trash all that hard work by eating calorie after calorie that surely would at least give me bloat? I still don’t know why it did it, I was supposed to be nibbling on fruit only.
Around 6 p.m. I arrived back to the auditorium. Everyone was backstage “pumping up” their bodies and spraying themselves with Pam. Everything to make the definition of your muscles pop. Again, I focused on my abs and refused the non-stick butter spray everyone was using.
As we were finally lined up to go onstage the auditorium was so packed with people that some were standing to witness the show. Just to shake up my nerves even more, the other girls commented that I didn’t even do my hair and my blue one-piece was tied incorrectly in the back – automatic points off for this error. Thanks.
I couldn’t see the audience when I filed in the last spot on stage and began my poses. The lights were shining in my eyes – I knew I must be squinting. Cameras were flashing in the black abyss, the judges reported to the crowd a brief bio of the five of us. I tried to remember all Kate had taught me – walk with your bum as high as you can, push your chest out and smile. My transparent “stripper” heels made me about 5’11. I knew I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I remembered my signature kick stomp and hoped it looked good.
Second round, same basic thing, but this time I was in the black shimmering one piece. After a series of poses I attempted to mimic from practice, we all finally stilled our bodies into a final pose – shoulders raised, abs tightened, a slight turn of the hip and fingers like a ice skater. I knew I was squinting. Our names were called one by one and the audience hooted and hollered for each one of us, calling out the numbers pinned to our suits.
Then the judges took over again. This was the end, the judges had made their decisions. The same girl won best in show and also was selected as the winner overall. She got a sword! Finally, I heard my name. Fifth place and a trophy of a warrior-looking women. I was devastated. In my opinion I had lost. And I had, actually. The girl that won, won rightfully so, but after that I believed I should have been second at least. Last place was embarrassing and I couldn’t wait to see my boyfriend at the time (who actually came) and get his opinion.
He couldn’t believe I was fifth either. He and his friend reassured me I looked hot up there. Maybe I rightfully deserved to come in last. Maybe my hair and the lasagna I ate were distractions. Maybe the fact I didn’t have fake boobs or even “real boobs” justified being last. Who the f**** wants to be last?
I couldn’t wait to get out of there. My boyfriend, his friend and I left, choosing not to linger around as a sore loser. We got some Italian food.
No pictures remain of that time in my life. The warrior women is only a memory now. I wish I had pictures to share, but sadly, they were never developed.
It seems like ages ago that this happened to me. A bulging disc ended my career in body-building and for the most part, running, too. Even after an injection, I never had the desire to work out like that again. Of course, I moved so I joined other gyms, but it never stuck. I suppose I never will ever feel like I did at that Gold’s Gym – like it was mine and maybe that’s what repels me.
Trust me, I have all the intentions of joining the workout craze, but I’ve always been an individualist and I feel like it’s now turned into a trend that the herd follows because that’s what their doctors tell them to do, that’s what all the celebrities talk about – their workout routine or their personal trainer who changed their bodies, changed their life – and everyone just follows the damn herd. Maybe you might be saying what a pompous freak she is. No, it’s not that which stalls me. I guess it’s like Tupac Shakur said – find out what everyone else is doing and do something else.
So should I have a fitness and nutrition section on this site? Of course I should. I still read about fitness and I know a lot about nutrition. I guess when you run into a problem, a quandary such as this, you see it as a challenge. Should I tear down the walls I’ve put up and go be the new girl at the gym, making sure that this time I fit in with coordinating outfit and shoes – oh and my Fit Bit? Or have a reached the age where I don’t feel the need to impress anyone and talk about my workout routine, that “tight as a tiger” reference now longer means much to me? I mean if I wanna talk the talk, I’ve gotta walk the walk, right? I mean not everyone feels this way, certainly I’ve met overweight doctors and wondered, “How in the Hell,” but I guess their okay with being phonies.
I must be true to thyself. I will just relegate to refuse to post anything about fitness or nutrition that I don’t follow myself. I’m not taking this section down for now.