So I’m back at the gym again after a three week hiatus. One week I was sick, next week I was on my period, and last week I was not motivated. The biggest thing that demotivates me is carrying my gym stuff and changing into and out of my gym attire. I do not have a gym bag, so my gym gear ends up in a scruffy barely surviving plastic bag or it’s somehow shoved in my everyday super big handbag (might as well be a backpack).
Another thing is changing at the gym, I’m always arriving and there are naked women changing. I feel like I don’t know where I should be looking and it’s so awkward! So I try looking everywhere else but at the naked bodies around me…which is next to impossible as everyone and their mother is at the gym at 5:30pm! When I find a free locker, I try and quickly put my clothes on in a way that limits how much others must see of me naked. It’s almost like I’m breaking the law being naked for more than 2 minutes. So the process starts, I lay gym cloths out, dump work shirt and bra, grab gym bra and gym tee on STAT. After shoving my head through the freaky super tight top, I throw off the boots, slyly take off the stockings. But God forbid someone sees my underwear, therefore the skirt comes off after I have hopped into those super elastic yoga pants. By the time I’m done and the speed I do it…I consider that a work out.
As I’m panting, I’m seeing all shapes, colours and sizes of women. Some do the “Speedy Gonzales” quick change like me; others are butt naked as they choose to fold their workwear nicely into their gym bag before putting their gym gear on. And then there’s everyone in between trying not to make eye contact with anyone that happens to be naked or who seem to not be fazed.
So it all got me thinking…what’s the big deal…what is it about these clothes that give me freedom to chat to a stranger, freedom to smile and just freedom from being awkward. We came in the world naked and now we seem unable to stand anyone naked unless they are barely naked and of a certain size. I know certain cultures do not make a big deal of it…from nude beaches to unisex saunas. Other cultures, within the same gender its ok to be naked at any age. It varies for everyone and how they were taught to relate to their own bodies and others. It’s also about protecting oneself in a culture (at least what I observed) that has a heavy sense of insecurity and therefore high value of privacy with everything. There is a dominant message of being told not to be quick to trust (and there is strong argument to that) and to relate nakedness with sexual activities.
This is I believe the reason many are uncomfortable with being naked. Seeing a woman breastfeeding in public is one action highly debated, I think this is because our bodies are understood to be owned and be private, and breast feeding is one huge action that screams to us that there are other relations our bodies have…one of sharing and public space. Another could be stripping, being paid to show what society deems not to be public but to be privately enjoyed at a cost.
I guess the gym is helping me get down to the naked truth….that as much as we say we accept ourselves and our bodies, it’s a different thing having everyone see that dimple, scar, fat, abnormal shaped muscle, rash, colour patch, stretch mark, sweat stain, because that would make you feel vulnerable. However, I’m discovering being vulnerable can be liberating…and being naked can be comfortable.