I’ve been lifting in weight rooms since I was fourteen, mostly in college fitness centers. Most of these weight rooms have had ample benches and multiple sets of weights, and most times I’ve had no problem having a bench to myself and accessing the weights that I needed. Even if I got there and all of the benches were in use, I felt comfortable approaching someone and asking to work in (take turns lifting during while each of us rested between sets) and even asking someone to spot me if it was a day when my spouse wasn’t there. This is what I expect when I go to a weight room.
There’s a fitness center in the apartment complex where we’re staying until we find more permanent housing (or whatever passes for “permanent” for someone who’s moved twenty-three times). Usually I work out with free weights at home, but there are some limitations to that set-up (e.g., no bench, no good way to work my lats, only five-pound increments), so while we have access to a fitness center I’m hoping to make some progress I haven’t been able to make lifting at home.
This apartment complex fitness center has weights, but one couldn’t really call it a weight room. There are only two flat benches, one set of dumbbells, and no barbells. Around the perimeter of about a third of the room are resistance machines and the rest of the space is devoted to high-tech cardio machines (and I won’t even go into how I feel about the idea of running on a treadmill when we live in a place with perhaps the most perfect weather in the world).
Maybe due to a sense of scarcity around free weights, people are a little more possessive with their lifting accoutrements.
The men working out seem to be more aware of the weight room etiquette I expect, or at least they’re accommodating when a 5-foot-tall woman asks to use the twenties sitting by their feet while they’re between sets. But I find that the women are a different story.
This morning when I arrived at the gym there was a man using one of the benches and a woman standing next to a bench doing squats. It was chest and triceps day, so I definitely needed a bench. Since the woman doing squats wasn’t actively using the bench, I approached her (her name was Heather*. I know because it was painted in script on her plastic straw cup).
“Are you using this bench?” I asked.
Heather looked at me unsmiling and said, “Fine, go ahead,” and started to pick up her weights.
Now, maybe I was just sensing brusqueness that wasn’t there, but she seemed put-out to me.
“We can work in—take turns—if you need the bench,” I offered, but she was already moving, head down, to the area behind the benches where she continued her lower-body workout. By the time she needed a bench, the man using the other bench was done, and we both had a bench to use. So, it worked out, but she refused to make eye contact with me the rest of the time.
The interaction left me confused. I can’t figure out if I read the situation wrong or if it was just her personality. Maybe it was a difference in expectations for shared equipment or a difference in culture between a college gym and an apartment complex fitness center, or maybe she was intimidated by my upper arms, which I can’t really hold against my sides anymore because they’re so muscular. If I really wanted to know if it was a culture/etiquette thing, I would try to engage fellow lifters in conversation to get a sense for general expectations, but knowing myself, it’s more likely that I’ll just try to lift during a time when no one else is there.
Enough of the weight-lifting tangent. On to the visual interest, another sunset, this one while we were at the playground:
I assume that I will eventually cease to notice San Diego sunsets, or at least cease to be breathless at their beauty, but for now, I remain short of breath every evening.
Where were we?
- Tangent – check!
- Visual Interest – check!
- Books – Ah, yes. That’s the point of this whole thing. On to the next twenty titles!
Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.