I turned and stared scathingly.
“What did you just say?”
The jerk grinned, repeating blithely, “You’re sooo big!”
I stared daggers at my oblivious brother. “Is that a joke?”
Quirking a sardonic eyebrow, he pointed at my little sister, who had her tiny hands raised blissfully in the air. “See? Em adores being told that she’s a big girl.”
“Em,” I said between my teeth, “is a three year old child, with thighs the size of my pinky.”
He smirked, I sighed, and we joined the YMCA.
Somehow, the mere possession of a gym membership creates a magical feeling of fitness. The first day, I slipped into my sweat pants, which already felt more svelte, and preened in the mirror. The image which stared back at me erased the magical feeling.
Walking into the Y did nothing to restore the magic. Toned athletes swaggered by, all sporting muscled biceps and sculpted calves. Gazelles masquerading as humans loped around the track, while Arnold Schwarzenegger doppelgangers hoisted massive weights high overhead.
In silent agreement, my brother and I headed for the cardio centre, which boasted treadmills, stationary bikes, and a rowing machine. We paused in the doorway, horror-struck. Greyhounds were running on the treadmills, lean legs striding smoothly. A gray-haired man rowed briskly, knotted arms pumping hard and fast, knees bending in a fluid rhythm. At that moment, I became a hardened cynic.
In vain, I looked around for a slightly flabby peep. Ken and Barbie dolls stared back at me, disinterest oozing from every non-sweaty pore. Then…
I found her. Glazed eyes stared blankly at the stationary bike screen, which informed her that although her legs burned, lungs ached, and mouth parched, she had pedaled a grand 1.24 miles. A sweat-soaked t-shirt, which hid blossoming love handles, sported an encouraging workout motto. Limp, brown hair hung in her eyes, but she had ceased to blow it away. The white flag was being flown.
“There she is,” I said triumphantly to my brother, who was still gazing about mournfully.
Blankly, he stared down at me. “There’s who?”
“My new favorite person.”
As she staggered past us to the drinking fountain, my brother muttered, “Refreshingly realistic, yes?”
In silent agreement, we nodded, detouring towards a small weight room. It was empty, so we had a tempting array of choice equipment. Jerm started pumping iron, while I stared, bewildered, at the complicated machines towering over me. Finally, I figured out that each one sported a step-by-step illustration.
Sitting down gingerly, I rested my back against a leather support and attempted my first rep. Later, my brother informed me that I looked like this:
I informed him that I did not care, and that he could go jump in the nearest, preferably frigid, river.
Stubbornly, I struggled with my machine, attempting to figure out whether my legs, arms, or pinky toes were supposed to be supporting the weight. Glancing up, I noticed a guy’s gaze flicking away nonchalantly. Bemused, I glanced back down, studying my tennis shoes. Subtly, I raised my eyes, only to meet his once more.
Apparently, my five minute work-out was working. However, I was not there for male attention, I told myself firmly. I was there to become fit, healthy, and toned. Furiously, I applied myself to the up-down, up-down clank of the weights.
Three minutes later, I got up, arms trembling with exhaustion. As I walked away, earnest dark eyes looked at me expectantly. Slightly annoyed now, I ignored them, striding towards the paper towels and disinfectant. When I returned, the guy was waiting.
“Miss,” he said sweetly. “Are you done with the leg-curl machine?”