My amateur eyes nervously scanned the intimidating area. The music was cranked up, upbeat and energetic while people panted around as a result of their intense workout sessions.
Some were running on the treadmills, others pedaling their exercise bikes, some doing some serious Muay Thai moves in a boxing ring, amidst other things.
Naturally, it all seemed like too many things to take in for untrained eyes like mine. As the zestful music reverberated in the backdrop with the heavy-built people working out throughout this immensely huge gym, I felt all the more enfeebled and meager.
Why was I about to join a gym? To reinforce my lament, I remembered having read an article by Zoe Williams in The Guardian that had reduced gyms to a mere capitalist establishment:
“The gym is so much greater a capitalist con than the casino, and yet so much more acceptable, so legitimate,” she had claimed. And so why was I to fuel
Just as I was about to let my newfound perspective sink in, a lady with an amazingly toned body walked past. And you know, your memory decides to conspire against letting you take the easier way out sometimes.
Well, my memory also decided to do something similar. One of my aunts’ voices rang in my head, “Lau, yo ta motaichhe!” Look, this one’s gone fat!
Illustration: Sworup Nhasiju
For a girl, these may possibly be the most shunned words ever. So without ado, a contract was signed and I thus became a member of the gym.
Many months have passed by since my early days in the World of the Gym. By now, I’ve mastered the art of walking with my exercise mat and gymming gear and looking like a pro, confidence radiating from the mere fact that I’ve joined a gym.
The confidence stems primarily from my assumption that I’ll now be able to eat what I please for I’ll be able to shed it within a matter of minutes, thanks to the VersaClimber or the intensive Body Pump classes. And if a gym equipment or a gym class is no match for my indulged palate, I’ll just ask my trainer to put me through a more gruesome workout routine that I’ll have happily paid for, and that’ll surely work its magic.
But wait a minute! The knowledge isn’t so much a proven fact as it’s a common misconception: Exercise doesn’t make you thin!
Agreeing to this, Lowri Turner from the UK-based Mail Online writes, “The awful truth for every would-be slimmer is that going to the gym is unlikely to make you thin. It may even have the opposite effect: it could actually make you fatter.”
When you exercise, you burn calories, and that’s crucial to losing weight. However, this whole routine can also stimulate hunger, studies show. Moreover, we often tend to reward ourselves with some heavy meal after a good workout session. That may actually render the workout in vain.
Bummer, huh! Just when I had gained enough confidence that I would be able to look at the aunty in her eyes and smirk with a “Look who’s all slim now” sort of face, my confidence level went zilch!
More findings back up what Turner claims. Eric Ravussin, Chair in Diabetes and Metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher, argues in a 2009 article published in the Times Magazine, “In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless.”
I admit that such knowledge has definitely made me more lax when it comes to my commitment to the gym. However, I’m partially glad I don’t have to obsess over paying an institution to torture me with the same vigor anymore.
Instead, my routine has become more flexible as I’ve started going to the gym not with the intent of losing weight but with that of leading a healthier life.
After all, although a gym might not be the miracle worker when it comes to shedding the extra kilos within minutes, it definitely deserves credit for the fact that it may help boost our cardiovascular health, making all the time spent running on the treadmill or riding the exercise bike a worthwhile endeavor anyhow.
So, Happy Gymming, People!
The writer is a student of Political Science at Thammasat University who enjoys exploring life and all that it has to offer.