Monday, December 23, 2013

Gym Rat Girl

Greetings all! 好久不见!Its been a while since my last post. Swamped. Again. I don't need to go into it.

Been back at the gym lately! Going to the gym just makes me feel so much better: more relaxed, stronger, makes me sleep better, and on and on. I feel alright if I don't go, but I just feel awesome when I start going again, I wonder why I ever stopped! So there is a university gym here for students. 8 kuai to use the treadmill for a half hour and weights! Good deal.

But really, there was a good reason why I didn't keep up at the gym since I arrived in Nanjing. I figured that, like in the United States, the gym would be mostly full of dudes working out.  In the US I can handle being the only girl in the gym, or usually there is at least one other female person. But over here, it is a little different. It is very clear than when I lift weights, I look really really odd. People take long, undisguised looks, and not going to lie, it is really uncomfortable. I even got my picture taken the other day, and no, they did not ask my permission first.

Being here, just doing what I always do, I can feel the differences between peoples' reaction to me. Going to the gym is one of my things, and one of the differences is that people just think it is really weird for me to want to work out. China doesn't really emphasize physical education as something worth pursuing. Sometimes I see people walking around who clearly have never done any physical exercise. People with no muscles. No butt whatsoever. Arms that aren't used to lifting more than a finger. Awkward, uncoordinated running strides. So when I arrive at the gym in my work out clothes and have a good run and do squats and lift weights, I just stick out like a sore thumb.

I feel like another aspect to my awkwardness has to do with my female-ness. Sexism is still alive and kicking here. I feel its presence in odd and subtle ways once in a while, and I get that feeling when I go to the gym. There seems to be so many reasons why someone would stare at me or take my picture that it would be difficult to say definitively why it occurs or attribute it to any one reason, but I feel like the female thing is definitely playing a role here. I feel almost subversive when I show up and pick up a set of weights.

Though its terribly awkward, I will keep going to the gym. I will keep showing up there doing what I always do, because I know there is nothing wrong with me working out, or wearing cute work out clothes, or lifting weights. I actually kind of like the idea that I can make people uncomfortable, because it means that they're going to have to reflect what is is that is making them uncomfortable, and why, maybe. As long as I can take the heat first. Because really, it is really weird.