Monday, October 27, 2008

Cottage Cheese, Muffin Tops and Afro Pubs

A Moratorium on Locker Room Nakedness, Please

© 2008 Leighann Lord

Unless you have immense self discipline, or a ruthless personal trainer, the gym is a risky investment. If all the people who had gym memberships actually went, they’d have to make reservations. That said, I’ve decided to go back.

I hope it’ll be different this time. This time I have a goal. I’ve taken up running to improve my cardio and endurance because it’ll help my martial arts training. It doesn’t matter how good or strong your techniques are if you tire easily. This was a hard decision.

As a child I loved running games like Tag and Red Light, Green Light 1-2-3 but that all changed in high school. Freshman year gym was track & field. At the first class Sister Sadist commanded us to run a mile. No warm up, no nothing, just run. The girls who had asthma – okay, me – were told to suck it up. Diva In Training that I was, I refused, choosing instead to walk the mile. I got an F. The only F of my academic career and I still stand by it with pride. Consequently any love I might have had for the gym, running and religion evaporated.

So it is with great reluctance that I have finally decided to run. With Winter approaching I figured the gym would be the best place to go. My first day back I paced myself. I didn’t over do it. I started walking on the treadmill, slowly increasing my speed, then ran I for 10 minutes. I switched to the elliptical machine and did 10 minutes of interval training. Yea, me!

"Well that wasn’t so bad. Maybe this will work out after all," I thought, and that’s when I saw her: a naked woman strolling through the locker room. The only covering she had was a towel wrapped around her head but I’ve never had a problem with naked hair.

While I’ve managed to recover from most of my Catholic upbringing, I can’t seem to shake my prudish reaction to the human body. Add a bit of vanity and snobbery, and not only was I offended that this woman was naked but that she wasn’t even in good shape. She wasn’t Jabba the Hut but she was very cottage cheesy. There was some lopsided muffin top action happening and a voluminous shock of afro pubs in dire need of a shape up.

I in no way mean to imply that I by comparison am perfect. I am not. That’s why I always remember to bring a towel. According to Douglas Adams you need a towel to hitchhike through the galaxy and according to common decency you need towel if you plan to shower at the gym.

To be honest, it wouldn’t have mattered if the naked woman had a flawless figure. I just don’t think the human body is all that beautiful. At first it’s not so bad. Most babies are cute, but over time there are profound physical changes that the general public doesn’t need to be privy to.

This wasn’t the first Naked Locker Room Woman I’ve ever seen. But the last one had the decency to dash from the shower to her locker, hands and arms covering key areas while mumbling "Sorry, I forgot my towel." She evinced the proper amount of shame, conveying that this scene would not intentionally be repeated. Maybe it’s the Catholic thing again, but I think there should be dinner, courtship and some type of commitment before you begin showing off your nakedness. The Naked Cottage Cheese Lady did not scurry, run, hide or dress quickly. She in fact strutted around in her all together’s like she was in the privacy of her own home. I wish she had been.

Since I’m always up for a good conspiracy theory, maybe this woman didn’t "forget" her towel. Perhaps an astute gym manager paid her to parade around the locker room au natural – imperfections and all – to remind everyone in eye shot why we’re there. Naked Cottage Cheese Lady then is an inspiration. And I am inspired – to buy a treadmill and run at home. God help me.

Thank you for reading The Urban Erma.

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