Friday, September 5, 2014

I'm Doing The Best That I Can

Well, guys. I'm sorry to do this to y'all but I can't stand myself. And besides, I'm long overdue to write a post that's basically a rant so here goes.

I've been going over to the gym at the community center with some regularity over the past month.

.::patting self on the back::.

I don't swim yet because even though my rash is definitely better, I'm wondering if all the chlorine in the pool will only irritate it further and I'm still kind of embarrassed by it. So instead of skipping exercise altogether, I just head over to the exercise machines. I pedal away on one of their excellent recumbent bikes for twenty minutes, and then I spend another ten minutes on what looks like an exercise bike turned upside down, so that you grip what used to be the pedals and use your arms to power the thing.

Our gym has one exactly like this. I wish they had more.

Image found here

Yesterday, after completing my thirty minute session and feeling smug because I actually broke a sweat doing it, I headed out of the center. One of the staff members who had seen me come in noticed me as I left. She said, "WELL. That was a quick workout!" and rolled her eyes.

How snarky was that?!

My first reaction was guilt. Yeah, I thought. What I'm doing here is pretty pathetic compared to everyone else...

But I stopped in my tracks as I realized what a dumb stupid thing that was to say to someone. And that I had nothing whatsoever to feel guilty about. So I made an about face and walked back to the senior citizen woman, who had dry frizzled bleached blonde hair, was dangerously tanned into human leather, but yes, was very fit.

"I'm doing the best I can," I said calmly.

She looked at me with a shocked expression.

"I have an autoimmune disease which severely limits my energy. The fact that I can get here at all is an amazing thing. So thirty minutes of any kind of exercise is a real accomplishment."

I turned on my heel and left her blabbering something like, "Oh, I didn't mean to sound that way, I just blah blah blah blah blah..."

I didn't hang around to hear her finish speaking because 1) I didn't hear her use the word "sorry" in that sentence, and 2) by then I was royally hacked off and I would not have been able to continue the conversation in a composed manner. What I was tempted to say to her wouldn't have been pretty. Or nice.

It's been awhile since my hackles were that raised. (What the heck is a hackle, anyway?) I fumed all the way home. Good grief. There were lots of other gym members in the area, and I'm sure they heard her comment. I hope that  they listened to my response as well.

I've never felt anything but positivity and encouragement from this staff, so I was shocked. This is the first time that I've ever felt any kind of negative judgement whatsoever over at the community center, and I'm resolved that it won't bundle my undies sufficiently to keep me from going back. And if I EVER hear anything snarky from this or any other staff member......well. Our conversation will be considerably more animated. And will involve someone's supervisor.

I'm thinking that her hair lightening treatments bleached her brain as well.


Laura said...

Oh, what a horrible thing to say! I do not have any health excuse but was not in good shape when I joined a gym, and the clearly communicated "you SHOULD work out for an hour" was one of several factors causing me to drop my membership. Because half an hour a day is better than none, but apparently not acceptable.

(As it turned out, fitting even a half hour in my schedule was hard, which was the main reason I dropped membership - but the above was another reason why I was glad I got to. It's easier to get my exercise by swimming / running / walking with the family, it fits our schedules better.)

Gyms do their membership no service by that attitude, IMO.

And that's ignoring the part where it fails to take into account health limitations of the people exercising.

On the one hand, I really hope she got the point and no more is needed.

On the other hand, part of me thinks their administration ought to know that members are being treated that way.

Because you shouldn't need to tell her your medical situation for your exercise time to be acceptable.

Betsi said...

Julia, you are my hero this morning! I belonged to a "women only" gym for a while, where you would expect a supportive and encouraging atmosphere, right? Wrong. The staff members--just the women, but they were almost all women--oozed judgement from their pores. Good for you for letting that woman know how you felt. A misunderstanding? Her statement was judging and condescending and I can't imagine any "nice" way she could have meant it.

And hackles are: "erectile hairs along the back of a dog or other animal that rise when it is angry or alarmed."

I hope you have a great day!

Anita Rowe Stafford said...

Julia, this brought tears to my eyes. I'm glad you could answer back to her rude statement. I have found no understanding for sjogren's in my community.

Melissa - 710.9 said...

You handled this SO WELL. You're my hero.

Anonymous said...

I will fart in her general direction the next time I am there.

Unknown said...

Julia I am so proud of you standing up for all people with chronic illnesses. It all goes back to the "you don't look sick" part. Why on earth someone at a gym of all places would make a critical remark (and I agree, there is no other way to take it) simply astounds me. I would expect the employees to be more like cheerleaders, encouraging you for coming in, and creating a welcome atmosphere where you want to come back. i agree - you are a hero. Next time wear your cape!!!

Christine said...

As you know, I am a big fan of exercise with Sjogren' matter what it is or how much time you spend doing it. I am unbelievably proud of you for not only exercising, but for handling that so well. That is one of the most inapporpriate things I have ever heard and I would not have handled it that well or assertively!

Amy Junod said...

I would not want to piss TD off. It sounds like an awesome use of the arsenal though.
There are big trends toward quick bursts of exercise reaping better mean lady!
I'm glad that you said what you did. Not that you should have to explain but I'm glad that maybe someone else might have overheard and learned something.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Jul. You have spicy and spunk! dh

Orb Weaver said...

Mom, I want you to email me the name of this gym.

annie said...

Why are people always judging, always having to comment and never minding their business? Even if you didn't have a health issue maybe you didn't feel well that day, you did not have to explain yourself to a little nobody, and none of us have to!

However, I'm so glad you turned around and spoke to her. My blood would have been boiling, and I would not have been so polite...blame it on menopause!!

stephanie said...


Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how often I've heard something similar towards myself, or felt that sense of guilt for not doing more. People are becoming so self centered to a point of not realizing or even caring that not everyone is as perfect as they are. Nobody has a right to criticize, but especially if you don't know the person. There are days I honestly don't have the energy to get out of bed, so if I do, on those days, I feel very accomplished for just achieving something as little as that. But, I won't lie, even though I may feel good about being able to get up and moving, if I don't clean something I still feel so guilty, brought on only by myself and nobody else. So, for anyone, to feel the need to orally express to someone a sound of disappointment, they are the ones who really need to look at themselves from the inside out.

dal said...

I'd also like to know the name of this gym, so I can tell them exactly what I think. There is no excuse for an employee to act that way. And that is not in the least bit understanding. I admire you for working to build your strength and stamina.