With my lifestyle change journey, I’ve incorporated regular gym workouts to ensure that I’m getting the best results and so far so good, but being a tattooed woman means that in my gym wear of choice majority of my tattoos are on display. While this does not bother me, it is clearly something that other gym goers notice… Often.
Our gym is laid out such that the weight training area is at the far back corner of the gym, the generalization is that if you walk into gym and you have tribal biceps tattoos, you’ll walk directly to the weights followed by a protein shake. While I don’t have those tribal bicep tattoos, contrary to popular belief I am actually allowed in the weight area. The only judgment I’m getting here is based on how weak I am and how low my weights are generally set to. It’s unbelievable how it’s still more acceptable for men to be covered in tattoos over women and how it’s assumed that women shouldn’t be weigh lifting unless they’re body building.
I’m not a body builder and therefore don’t spend all of my time doing weights (smirk) which means I have to take my inked body to the cardio area, the front of the gym. I generally choose to speed walk (I’m not at running yet) on the treadmill or cycle on a stationary bike. I’m definitely not the only tattooed person in the cardio area, I’m not saying that at all, but based on the time I gym I’m definitely surrounded by an older crowd that perhaps still reserve tattoos for sailors and prisoners. There are a few other tattooed gym goers that I see here and there but for the most part, I’m a minority and am probably the most inked in the room.
Look, I like the attention that my tattoos attract. I have some beautiful pieces and why shouldn’t other people be allowed to look at them and admire them? Outside of the gym, I do get stopped regularly and get numerous comments (good and bad) about my body art and I’ve grown accustomed to it. What I’m struggling with is how to deal with getting the same attention when I’m at gym, at my worst and most out of breath!
I’ve done 40 minutes on the stationary bike, I’m sweating buckets and the music pumping through the headphones is drowning out the sound of everything around me. I’m a bit of a weirdo in that I close my eyes and sing along, I’m in the zone. Out of nowhere I get a tap on my shoulder, I get a bit of a fright because I’m not expecting it and when I look up its a middle aged tanned woman trying to get my attention (who knows for how long). I jerk my headphones out, snap out of my zone and greet her to which she replies ‘Your tattoo is really nice but what are you going to do when you’re old?’. Really? You interrupted my session for that? To make it worse, she wasn’t just pointing, she was touching my sweaty dripping arm (ew) which made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Of course, my reply was something like ‘Still be awesome’ after which my headphones went back in and on with my session I go, weirded out by the lack of personal space respect at the gym of all places.
Speed walking on the treadmill, I kind of look around the room and out of the corner of my eye notice a guy behind me, staring. When he realizes I’ve seen him, it’s apparently a cue to come closer and tell me that my tattoo is so good it looks like it’s a stick on (what?) but I can’t respond to the ‘compliment’, because my heavy breathing catches my words before they come out and I end up staring stupidly back utterly confused by the comment and the need to interrupt my session.
Walking around the gym in a vest does mean that I get quite a few stares and that’s ok, go ahead and look or admire or even judge, whatever makes you feel better but approaching me mid workout is just a little rude isn’t it?
The funniest tattoo gym experiences generally take place in the Mind and Body room, when I’m going to Pilates. Again, the time I go to class ensures a more mature room with obviously very different views. I happened to be doing one of the stretches incorrectly and so the instructor came to my aid and decided to call the class to watch her make an example out of me as I wasn’t the only one struggling. She asked me to turn around to face the class and while she bent my elbow out wards in ways the body was definitely not designed to be bend, the only looks I was getting were of disdain. One woman even pointed and whispered to the person next to her, with only one guess about what she was whispering – Yes, I have boobs on my arm, no need to whisper.
These incidents may seem trivial but this has happened in less than two weeks, I can assure you that this is going to be a part of my gym routine going forward and something I just need to get used to. Thank goodness I choose to shower at home instead of at the gym, can you imagine this inked body of awesome running around naked in the change room? Yeah no, me either.
There are unwritten and unspoken rules of the gym and etiquette that gym goers are required to abide by. Wiping your sweat from the equipment should be just as second nature as at least waiting for someone to complete their workout before approaching them with your tattoo comments and questions because, if I want to ask you where you bought your awesome sneakers I’ll make sure I wait to catch you on the way out.
Rant and rave over
I’m off to gym