I've moved to JennetteFulda.com

Tales from the gym

They’ve got 911 on speed dial

The cardio machines at the downtown gym face four big windows looking onto the street, providing interesting distractions from the pain of working out. For three days in a row, I saw the flashing lights of an ambulance in the parking lot across the street. “Damn, I’m glad I don’t live in that apartment complex,” I thought as I jogged along. People must be getting stabbed in the lobby or falling down the stairwells on a regular basis. I was also grateful that the ambulance was not parked in front of the YMCA three days in a row. That might be enough for me to cancel my membership. Later, when all the machines on the side of the room near the door were full, I got on one in front of a different window. This is when I noticed the ambulance had not been parked in the parking lot of the apartment complex, but in the lot for a building with a large sign on the front that said “Fire Department.”

That’s not what I meant by “stretch”

On Monday, I was ellipticizing when a long, black, stretch limo stopped in front of the building. I thought it was just stopped at the light, but the door opened and two people stumbled out and walked inside. I know some people recommend that you stretch before a workout, but I don’t think that’s what they mean. As my mind started generating scenarios for why you would take a stretch limo to the gym, my eyes focused on the TV screen in front of me. This is when WTHR actually gave me helpful information instead of just sensationalizing the latest pedophile arrest as their lead story. It was Monday, March 17. St. Patrick’s Day. Duh. A great day to hold a parade two blocks west of me, a parade with floats and leprechauns and stretch limos. The men probably weren’t going to the gym, but hitting the restaurant with a beer garden just next door. I hope they got some green beer.

I don’t like spicy food either

As I neared the end of my workout, I suddenly caught the unmistakable scent of Old Spice. Only, no one had walked past me and the machines on either side of me were empty. I turned my head and there was a man on the bike machine, two spots down from me – and I could still smell him. If there were special, hi-tech goggles that let you see scents like heat vision binoculars do, this man would have been a huge, bright, ball emanating waves of smell. While I appreciate that he wasn’t suffocating me with BO instead of Old Spice, it made me wonder if there was a secret room in the building where people could swim laps in a pool of cologne instead of chlorinated water. The smell made it harder to breathe, and after 25 minutes on the elliptical, I needed to breathe. Thankfully, after a couple minutes my nose adjusted and soon after that I got off the machine and entered a neutral smell zone.

When I’m 64

Yesterday I worked a later shift at work, so I went to the YMCA near my apartment around 9:30AM. The mid-morning crowd at the Y is definitely different than the after-work, evening crowd. As the hour decreases, the median age increases. There were lots of older people there, particularly using the weight machines. It would be easy to make a joke about visiting the gym at a retirement home or some crap like that. Instead, as I worked out I mostly hoped that when I’m 64 I’m still rocking it at the gym like that. I hope I’m healthy enough to lift weights and do low-impact cardio and not give a shit that other people are younger and less wrinkly than I am. Though, I hope I’m not wearing a skin-tight, Lycra, biking outfit like that one dude, no matter how old I am.

Fat is buoyant

Most of the cardio machines at the YMCA near my apartment face into the room, which has a large window looking into the pool. The funny thing I’ve noticed is that most of the people who use the pool are fat ladies. I know most women are self-conscious about wearing a swimsuit in public and might avoid doing laps at the gym because they don’t want anyone to see the curd-like texture of their thighs (me included). However, it appears that you will only stand out at the YMCA pool if you actually do possess a thin body with tight-flesh and no tan lines. If you are a fat lady, you will totally blend. So if anyone has been thinking about hitting the pool, but has been too scared to, your fears could be unjustified if you find the right spot. If I get enough courage, I might eventually take my own advice and take a swim. But I don’t think I’ll do it at a spot where a room full of people on cardio machines can watch me strut out of the locker room.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
Home: Main index


Red • March 20, 2008 at 9:36 am

I used to hate it when people would douse themselves in cologne and go to the gym. There’s really no point (I mean, who is that smell there to impress, anyway?), and when you’re breathing heavy from working out there’s nothing worse than choking on an breathful of Armani Aqua Di Gio.


katy • March 20, 2008 at 9:39 am

hi PQ.

I go to 24-hour around 5:30am before work, and I have to say that the crowd is VERY different than the one I used to work out with at 10:30pm (or even after work, for that matter). The morning brings with it a lot less pressure to worry about how you look when you’re working out–something that feels totally lame to even think about, but more often than not consumes my thoughts as I am bouncing up and down on the treadmill. That’s why I like to get machines in front of the mirror or a window where I can see my reflection. I want to know what other people see when I am working out.

Anyway, at 23 I am definitely the youngest person in the gym at that time in the morning. I’m surrounded by older ladies on the treadmills who walk their 1.5 miles at 0% incline, and I’m inspired by their dedication.

I’m running a 5k on March 30, and a 10k on April 12th, all in preparation for the Bay to Breakers run in San Francisco in May (12k)! You’ve inspired me so much, thank you!


Jenny • March 20, 2008 at 10:44 am

I am turning 48 at the end of this month and I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life and I hope to continue this for the rest of my life. At 27 I was at my largest. I wish I had gotten the “message” earlier….. maybe there were things I would have done differently in life if I felt stronger. I KNOW there are clothes I would have worn that I can’t now…. because that would look weird. :-) I also know where I’ll be to celebrate my 48th year…. yup, I’m starting my day out at the gym.


Dyan • March 20, 2008 at 11:45 am

I can beat the Old Spice story…

A few weeks ago, the staff at the gym I go to had to ask one of the older gentlemen to wear underwear because his nuts were hanging out of his shorty-short shorts. I think he was doing it on purpose, I mean come on! You have to feel the breeze. I made it a point to never ride the same bike he did.


Barb • March 20, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Fat ladies in the Y pool = aqua aerobics. Much easier on the joints. I took a few of these classes a while back, and was the youngest by far at 35.

It’s fun, but I can’t say it’s really that great a workout, unfortunately. Maybe that’s just me though. ;->


Danielle • March 20, 2008 at 4:21 pm

C’mon, PQ, get over your swimsuit anxiety and give lap swimming a try!

Fantastic way to cross train for running, you know.


JEM • March 20, 2008 at 5:17 pm

You never cease to make me laugh.


Juanita • March 20, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Lap swimming is the greatest exercise for older people. Since most people my age (almost 63 – aarrgh) have a touch of arthritis here and there, it’s a good way to get a workout in without putting any pressure on your joints.


Melsky • March 20, 2008 at 6:03 pm

I just joined the Y and at my branch there is a huge range of ages and sizes in the pool. I feel very comfortable there.


weightlossguru • March 20, 2008 at 6:16 pm

If your gonna sweat it out at the gym then let it out unadulterated… no scents please!! We can handle a bit of smelliness at the gym, yeah? (unless of course you’re only there to ‘pick up babes’ then by all means, bring on the Lynx-effect!) – jus kidding!


AG • March 21, 2008 at 12:34 am

Okay, you totally convinced me to dust off my flower bathing suit with built in skirt and get to the Y!!!! Hilarious.




Becca • March 21, 2008 at 8:11 am

Ok, that YMCA with the exercise room looking out onto the pool sounds suspiciously like my YMCA north of Indy. And chubby lady in pool sounds suspiciously like me. LoL! From the perspective of one of those ladies (jammed into size 18 bathing suit mind you) it is so disconcerting to see all those running, biking, weight lifting people on the other side of the window. Sometimes I want to stand on the side of the pool with a sign reading “THIS is why you must feel the burn!” But it is actually really nice to feel like we’re in good company. YMCA pools are often populated with suburban mommies who have the results of child-bearing and eating leftover mac ‘n cheese on their bums.

As always – you are hilarious and motivating. Keep it up.


Amanda • March 21, 2008 at 10:14 am

PQ your gym sounds like a load of fun! So many interesting things to see while your working out. At my gym all we have 3 bikes, 2 treadmills, 2 step machines, 2 rowing machines, 2 cross trainers and the weight room… oh and they just installed 2 new flat screen TV’s and airco… and there is no view from the windows as they are covered in that blurry plastic stuff… luckily they do have some good music otherwise I would be falling asleep during my workout. Hehe. Loved the bit about the ambulances! :)


radiosilents • March 21, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Great vignettes! I love how your blog is about losing weight and getting fit, but is also about everything else, too. :)

I’m going to start working out today!


Marla • March 21, 2008 at 2:37 pm

It’s not even that Old Spice actually smells BAD, but why is it always so strong?? I remember a guy at worked wore so much could smell him in the hallway 30 minutes later. Apparently he was trying to cover up whenever he went out for a smoke. Pretty effective!

I like the comment about the guys with his nuts hanging out of his pants! I was going to say, This is the benefit of working out in my garage, that doesn’t happen; but of course my husband is constantly doing stuff like that. On purpose. Do men ever grow up?


n.b. • March 21, 2008 at 4:30 pm

I like your gym musings! Yeah, the pool thing. At our local community pool there are many types, including lots of very overweight people of all ages and sexes letting it all hang out. I love it, actually. Poignant to see a skinny bikinied teen standing next to her plus size gran…all stages of life flashing before your very eyes!


DDWT • March 21, 2008 at 10:01 pm

I’m sorry for you & your left foot that you are having to ellipticize at the gym . . . but I’m happy for me. Your observations are very entertaining. Keep ’em coming!

So true about the swimming ladies, lol.


Heather • March 22, 2008 at 8:40 am

I try to go when there’s an older crowd at the Y. Feel more comfortable…

Oddly enough, I’ve never felt insecure about being seen in my bathing suit. I’ve always felt I looked better naked or in a bathing suit- comparatively to others, than fully dressed. Maybe that means I don’t dress well. but anyways– I’m embarrassed about swimming laps because everyone else seems to have learned how to swim, instead of doing some perversion of the doggy paddle to get them across the water.


Jen • March 22, 2008 at 2:21 pm

I love the Y because it is the opposite of intimidating. I used to swim almost every day for triathlon training, and in that kind of setting I don’t have any worries about my body in the suit. The beach, on the other hand, would be a different story.


MizFit • March 23, 2008 at 7:18 am

I know Im just echoing the masses but *damn* I love your blog/writing style.



Carl • March 23, 2008 at 7:18 pm

Well, first of all I have to say well done! You truly are an inspiration to anyone with a weight problem, in fact I’m wondering how you would look in a slinky little black number!

Yeah, I hear you about the gym. I try to get to my gym in the morning or afternoon for the older crowd and the gentle background radio station. If you go in the evening you get a herd of young bucks and bright orange blonde strumpets and you are subjected to repetitive dance music at 50 decibels. Although I could pass for late twenties, I do prefer the older crowd, they are friendly and civilised.

As regards the pool, I think you are right, even though I am on the other side of the pond, our pool is frequented mostly by the overweight or obese, bobbing around like dumplings in a clear stew. (I say this with no ridicule intended, I used to be a bit tubby myself). I do remember when I got back into working out a few years ago, I was in poor shape and I found swimming to be the gentlest, easiest exercise for getting back into things, perhaps this would explain the large numbers of rotund patrons in the pool.

We do not have ambulances or cop cars at our gym as our door entry fee is deliberately exorbitant to keep the riff-raff out.

Anyhow hun, one other thing I wanted to say was about re-adjusting one’s self-esteem after a massive physical change. I do not know you, so for all I know you have no issues about your past weight problem and you truly do feel worthy of Antonio Banderas or Tom Cruise, you certainly look fantastic. You may want to check out my most recent entry on Self Awareness, Self Worth and Romance over at my blog:


Anyhow Hun, keep up the good work, I shall watch your progress with interest! By the way, how old are you?

Warm Regards,

Carl xx


Gwendolyn • March 27, 2008 at 11:02 am

Old Spice…yuck.

There was this sweet 80 year old man that took care of the mares and foals at a horse farm for one of my previous employers. Instead of bathing, he would just splash on more Old Spice. In the summers it was my job to take him to the store for his weekly shopping. Even with all the windows rolled down, he smell was awful!!!!! I still can not stand the smell of that stuff. Ugh!


Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog at JennetteFulda.com.

Man looking into telescope

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

Lick the Produce: Odd things I've put in my mouth
Half-Marathon: Less fun than it looks
European Vacation

"What distinguishes us one from another is our dreams and what we do to make them come about." - Joseph Epstein

Learn to run...online! Up & Running online running courses