On the Modern Gym Experience

30 08 2011

With mention of and pleas to various sub-groups of gym members.

For the gladiators working out was not an elective so much as it was “do this or die more quickly”. The Greeks worked out so that they could take home a crown made of deciduous vegetation. (Olympics anyone?) My grandparent’s generation engaged in physical activity if and only if they were in the military or owned a farm.

Something happened in the 1980’s though that changed our cultural perspective. For the last thirty years or so working out has been… well… cool. With a host of fitness and health oriented books, magazines, day-time talk show specials and reality tv shows we are now a culture of gym rats. The fact that 80% of people don’t know what to DO when they are at the gym is irrelevant. There’s always “standing around pretending to be mid-super set” or “getting a drink of water” or “listening to one’s iPod”. As a last ditch effort the confused can find a personal trainer who will guide them through the maze of equipment and activities.

I like to think of myself as part of that elite 20% who a)know what to do to use my gym time well and b) don’t shoot myself in the proverbial foot by eating crap ten minutes after a workout. And, since I’ve been working out and have had access to a personal trainer off and on for the last eight years, I am able to workout while simultaneously observing the idiosyncrasies of fellow gym members. Today during my intervals I composed the following mini letters to different groups of people I see at the gym.

Dear Middle Aged Men,
Way to go! Now is the time to get heart-healthy. Now is the time to learn to love anything from bicycling to kayaking to running. But please, don’t think that your newfound hobbies give you the right to wear spandex. Manly man shorts of appropriate length and volume would greatly enhance your manliness. Trust me.

Dear Overweight Ladies and Men,
Do you know who the most inspirational person in this building is right at this moment? Nope, it’s not that guy over there who was once an Olympic pole vaulter. Nope, not that lady who has been running on the treadmill for an hour without stopping or even breaking a sweat. The most inspirational person here is YOU! You are the one who conquered unknown numbers of insecurities, unhealthy habits, hatred of gym clothes, embarrassments and cruelties. YOU are the one who decided that you wanted to make a change. YOU are the one who SHOWS UP EVERY DAY. Well done! I doff my cap to you and thank you for being so amazing. Keep on keeping on.

Dear Teenage Boys,
Good habits start young. You are off to a good start if you are already making working out a daily part of your life. It will benefit you for years to come. That said, please do your research. Watching you lift improperly day after day after day is painful to me. Not to mention that you’re front-loading your muscles. Your pecs and biceps are admirable but your back is weak and your triceps must feel neglected. Read some books! Get a trainer! LEARN! Also, don’t waste my time. If you aren’t using a piece of equipment GET YOUR ASS OFF OF IT! Some of us have jobs and classes and life to get back to, I don’t have the leisure to watch you watch a football game while sitting on the bench I need. Also, last thing, please do not stare at that girl’s butt so obviously for so long. This is her gym too and she needs to feel safe and comfortable. You leering like she’s the porterhouse steak and you’re the hungry pit bull does not encourage her to spend time here.

Dear Young Women,
First, when you come to the gym make sure that your butt is fully covered and your boobs are contained. I know, I know, the men should not be staring at you in the first place but you are hardly making this easy on them. Feeling cute at the gym is important, I get it. I myself put effort into being both comfortable and cute when I’m going to pump iron. One cannot wear baggy sweats and a sweatshirt at the gym without passing out from heat stroke. But you can work your outfits so that you have maximum comfort with minimum distraction-potential. Oh, and dear dear girl, doing the stair master for an hour six days per week will not make you fit. Cardio alone will not cut it. Do some research and start lifting free weights. It’s the best way to protect your body, build bone density and see results. Just wait until you wake up one day and have triceps! It’s the best feeling ever.

Dear Old People,
I love you. I love your knee-high white socks and black tennis shoes. I love your sweat bands and your treadmill-walks and your awesomeness. Someday I hope to be just as cool as you.

Dear Suburban Moms,
I’m impressed. I thought all your people did was take yoga classes and meet your friends for coffee. Nice to see some bicep curls from your group. Come back soon and often!

Dear Me,
Don’t think you know everything. Remember that every person has a story and you don’t get to judge anyone. Ever. Also, do more push-ups. You were slacking today.

Dear People Who Don’t Go to the Gym,
You should. It’s a fascinating place to people watch. Besides which, “Exercise give you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!” Thank you Elle Woods and thank you gym. It’s been a good day.


How Not to Be Embarrassed

19 03 2011

This post could also be titled “Surviving Life as Meghan”.

Let’s face it, I was set up. God made me a six-foot tall blonde with not the best balance and a good amount of bouncy energy. It’s a given that I am going to do things like walk into open doors, fall while going up the stairs and trip over nothing. Never mind my apparent penchant for passing out in public. Luckily God is very kind because He also gave me a sense of humour. From twenty-three years experience I am going to give you all some tips about preventing and dealing with unpreventable embarrassing situations.  Read the rest of this entry »


16 09 2009

I forgot somewhere along the way why I love working at Village Theatre. It got lost in the swarms of little old ladies getting angry at me because the music was too loud, the cookies too pre-packaged, the sky too blue- whatever. Tonight I am proud to say I have remembered why it is that being a Lobby Attendant ROCKS.

Life advice from little old men. 


Today I had an old man ask me why I wasn’t married. (Don’t ask me how it came up, it would take too long to tell you.) My response was something silly, I’m sure. Then it happened- he fixed me with one slightly reddened eye and said “I had a baby by the time I was your age!! You better hurry, miss! You’re biological clock is ticking!” 

Oh NO you DIDN’T! 

I haven’t had to try that hard not to laugh in a really long time. In black and white it looks like it should have been super offensive but it really wasn’t. It was bizarrely nice…

The conversation was peppered with little strange-sounding but kind moments. Like when he found out that I was an artist, considered for a moment and told me that I’d “better find a rich fella”. Or when I jokingly told him about my two former proposals (yes, I have been proposed to twice by two different guys) and he got very sincere and said “No. You need the pick of the litter, and you’ll know. You’ll KNOW.”

He made it better by  following that up with “But you’re pretty, you’ll luck out. Or some guy will.” 

Seriously. I love my job.

On the Brink

14 09 2009

I sit. I sat. I shall be sitting.

(And that is how NOT to begin a blog post. It has no hook, no zing, no pep. Blame the late hour because normally I am really very creative.)

I spent a really lovely couple of days on the Olympic Peninsula this past week visiting my best friend and her husband. They’ve just moved into a new house a few streets up from their last place. The greatest feature of said house is an extraordinary closet/tunnel between two of their rooms. I got to sleep at the top of a house surrounded by trees and buried beneath four (count ’em!) blankets. Oh happy day(s). 

One of the highlights of the trip was having coffee with Stacie’s mother in law- an extraordinary Dutch woman whose generosity is only exceeded by her bravery. Apparently it’s not just my father who gets repeatedly beaten up by “the church”. While the two cases are not the same, they certainly run along parallel lines. I won’t go into either story, as they aren’t my stories to go into, but I found it a wonderful time. Mrs Van de Weghe (the elder) has some really unique and thought-provoking wisdom to share about the role of women in the church and what the Lord really expects from women that is different than the expectations He has for men. For example, we talked about how the Bible tells women to cover their hair during prayer and prophecy. I wish I had her written notes on the subject, since she had studied it extensively and I never have, but it was very provoking. (In a good way.) Read the rest of this entry »

Info that has come in handy today

31 08 2009

Here is a list of information that I am glad I had ready-to-hand on this day:

The formula for the area of a trapezoid

That “titanium” and “stainless steel” are two different finishes on appliances

Fire ant bites are not deadly (though they are darned painful)

My own e-mail address

How to be a banker for a board game. LIFE is hard to play if you can’t count

How to do long division and how to reduce square roots 

Who Nathan Fillian is

How to safely cross a street in dim lights

How to be thankful when God provides (which He is doing all the time)

Who wrote “Cat Among the Pigeons”

And last but not least… that the episode of Next Generation where Timothy wants to be an android like Data ends well. 

It’s been a good day, and Glory comes tomorrow!


18 08 2009

Why is it that, in old movies, the girl always has ample time to do her hair, get dressed, put on heels, refresh her lipstick and drive to wherever the boy is in less time than it takes to sing one song?

Why do my wrists crack when the weather changes?

Why does my cat think that sticking her nose in my ear is a good idea?

Why don’t more people commit to one another and mean it?

Why are laugh lines so completely wonderful?

Why do I miss performing so much it hurts?

Why can some people raise one eyebrow, while others look like their are having an epileptic fit every time they try to do so?

Why do bridesmaids almost always look awful even when the bride’s intentions are good?

Why do some folks like staying up late, while others prefer early mornings?

Why do night owls marry early birds? 

Why not wear more color?

Why do Americans love pre-packaged food?

Why not admit that a life of convenience is as stale as three year old  saltines?

Why not just have a good cry?

All these questions and more… open to any answers that people want to submit.

Where is Jen when I need her?

16 03 2009

I hate packing.

It is my LEAST favorite part of travel. In fact, I dream of a day when I can just hire my sister to pack for me.

Have I mentioned that my sister is an amazing packer? She packed for me when I went to New Zealand and when I went to visit the Carrs in January. Now here I am, faced with an almost six week trip and there is no-one to pack for me! 

In an effort to stave off packing-related stress, I’ve been laying things I want to pack out on the spare-room bed. I don’t know if it will help me remember everything that I want to bring, but it sure has heck helped me out mentally.

At this point, I have packed all eighteen movies + two seasons of Star Trek Voyager, the jewelry that I think I will want and my shoes. Let’s face it, all the good movies in the world won’t help me if I don’t remember T-shirts and a hairbrush.

Oy. I’m in trouble.

I’m not good at this. I bring too much of what I won’t need and forget essentials. Not to mention I am going to look like a total goob because I have to take two enormous suit cases. I’ve just tonight discovered that my easel won’t fit into a small carry-on-type suitcase. I’m going to look like SUCH a blonde.

(And NO, I’m not vain in the least. Showing up with two ENORMOUS suitcases won’t embarrass me at all.)

Won’t someone please marry me and hire me a personal maid? Or at the very least, buy me some cardboard boxes and enough postage to mail my stuff everywhere?!

Can you tell that I’m a little stressed by all of this?