A little droplet coaxes itself down the arch of my nose and then with a satisfying “plop,” the sweat lands on the treadmill.
Why am I at the gym on a holiday weekend?
I could ask the two girls on either side of me the same question.
We are all obviously a healthy, or “average” weight. Some might consider us “skinny” or tell us to go eat a sandwich.
Maybe we did just eat a sandwich. Or three. And that’s why we are at the gym sweating our asses off instead of enjoying a relaxing Labor Day.
As I glance around at the cardio equipment (treadmills, ellipticals, stair masters, etc.) I see a predominantly female population. None of us are tremendously out of shape or overweight. Is that because we are at the gym everyday? Or are we here because we want to maintain that appearance?
In the hunter-gatherer days, men’s bodies were designed to be lean, muscular and fast in order to catch the evening meal. Guess what? That’s that high metabolism we complain about men having now. They eat burgers, drink beer and fall asleep on the couch and they can actually lose weight. Which is perhaps why there are no men at the gym.
Women on the otherhand, were designed to produce children. Now before any of you feminists start with me, let me finish. Our bodies were made to store fat to have the strength to do things the “hunters” didn’t do, like rearing children and maintaining a shelter. Guess what? Our bodies are still fat storing machines. We could eat a small garden salad and still gain a pound. It’s the way we were built.
So why are we here fighting our bodies’ natural inclinations? Some might say they are doing it to be heathy and fight off diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Others might say working out relives stress. And in the words of the famous Elle Woods, “Happy people don’t kill their husbands!”
But I believe the later two reasons for working out are implications of an image obsessed society. Girls want to look thin for their new profile picture on Facebook. They want their abs to be rock hard for when they wear that crop top to the bars tonight. We believe that the only way we can be appealing to someone is if we look appealing.
Who even determined the standard for what is appealing anyways? Famous Renaissance painters depicted curvaceous women with rounded mid drifts and voluptuous thighs. Their breasts weren’t perfectly shaped from implants and their waist wasn’t a size two. These women did not go to the gym. Since when is sweating ladylike? Yet they were still deemed beautiful and worthy of being painted.
As society changed, standards changed. Even the new gym slogan of “Fit is the new skinny,” is presumptuous. Fitness never has determined health or happiness. It may be a contributing factor, but by no means a determining one. Sometimes the most “beautiful” bodies can have the most tormented souls.
Societies norms can be a constant pressure in our lives whether we want to “conform” to it or not. It’s just the way things are. For example, skin color. We are all human beings, but over time we have categorized ourselves into “races” which means, race is socially constructed. Just like beauty. But does that mean we can pretend that race doesn’t exist? No, because every health form, every US census, and every work application asks you your race.
I guess there is no real “moral of the story” here. The point of this post was to remind you that societies’ standards are constructed by ourselves, so if we want social change to happen, we have to change. So get off the treadmill and go eat a sandwich or watch a movie or hang out with your friends. Just don’t accept fitness as your fate.