The most difficult thing about a fitness program is not shelling out the bucks to join a club, or even using the resistance machines. No indeed. The hardest thing is buying clothes to work out in.
Exercise clothes seem to be designed to remind you exactly why you need to go to the gym in the first place, and also to reveal to everyone else just why you are there.
Thank goodness you don’t have to go to a sporting goods store to buy fitness gear. I can just imagine going into the realm of macho men and macha women and having everyone turn around and stare wondering, “What is she doing here?” Just sidling into the section of the lingerie department, where the fitness outfits are, is enough to make a sheepish grin creep onto my face even though no one is looking.
Who are these clothes made for anyway? Five-year olds? There are teeny-tiny tops that bare the abs and little bitty shorts that bare almost everything else. Have I wandered into the children’s department by mistake? No, there is grown-up lady underwear in the very next aisle.
The colors are rarely selected to make you inconspicuous. There are blindingly bright blues, electric greens and fluorescent pinks. What color goes best with a sweaty red face? Horizontal stripes are everywhere. Apparently the designers of sports wear never heard that horizontal stripes make you look like an elephant wearing a circus tent.
If I still had the Popsicle stick body I had when I was 10 and taking ballet lessons, I might consider wearing tights and a leotard. That was many milk shakes and pound cakes ago. There is no way I’m going to bounce around in an aerobics class in gear that fits like a coat of paint.
But I have to wear something. On my orientation tour of the gym, I saw people working out in sweats. This would seem an ideal solution to my camouflage problem. However, I sweat in sweats, even when I’m standing around just thinking about exercising. Not to mention, sweats have wide waistbands which accent the place where my waist used to be. Until I get a waist again, I want to cover it up, not show it off.
Loud colors aren’t the only puzzlement. Some of the garments are made of a rustly material that reminds me of candy bars being unwrapped in a quiet, dark theater. That’s the last thing I need to be reminded of. The tag gives no indication what this noisy material could be. What I see, instead, is that these togs have been proven in various athletic events, and have even won championships and medals. I can barely do one push-up; I don’t want pants that could compete in the next Olympics, while I watch from the stands. There must be clothes that need exercise as much as I do.
Back behind the boldly colored outfits hide some garments in more subdued grays, blacks and navy blues that don’t make claims to an athletic prowess that I don’t possess. I select a few tops and bottoms and head for the fitting room. Thank goodness there are locks on the doors, and that the snoopily-helpful sales ladies of my bashful teen years, who tended to barge in just as I was trying on bras, are long gone.
Rubberized bike shorts are supposed to squeeze your flesh and make you look more compact. Just struggling into them is probably good for burning off 50 calories. But where is the blubber supposed to go? In the mirror I see the answer rolling over the waistband. Riiight. Removing them is like peeling the skin off a grape.
After trying on five or six different outfits, I feel as blue as the navy pants I try on last. But they are quiet. The only claim they make is to be washable. They hug me in places I don’t need to be hugged, but I’ll buy a long t-shirt to cover up those parts. At least they don’t make my thighs look like sausages in a casing.
As I head for the cashier’s desk, I’ve already scored a small triumph. I’ve selected active wear without bursting into tears, completing the hardest exercise.