Gym Bullies.

In the summer, my sister and I were harassed in a public garden by a personal trainer wearing an Adidas popper tracksuit. I think most people would agree that you have the right to be highly suspicious of someone who still wears these types of tracksuits past the year 1999, especially if they undo the last three poppers on the trouser leg to expose an inappropriate amount of ankle. Enter: the Gym Bully. What a slut.

Here’s how it went:

Him (squatting in front of us, trousers flapping in the wind): Excuse me ladies! You both look like you’re looking to join a gym!

Me: Really? That’s how we look? That’s your hook to get us to join your gym – by telling us we look fat? For your information, good sir, I’m already a member of a gym.

Him: Oh yeah? And how much do you pay for that?

Me: Well, it’s free because I work there.

Him (looking at me like I’m lying and I actually work in KFC): You work in a gym?

Me: Yes I work in a gym. I’m a receptionist. So fuck you.

I didn’t really say fuck you. Well, I did say it, but only in my mind, because he had these humungous arms, and he didn’t look like the type that would be against punching unattractive women in the face. And I’m talking the whole arm – biceps, forearm, wrists, hands, everything. And veiny as fuck – it’s like they were screaming “ARRRRGH, I CAN’T TAKE IT, I’M JUST SO MUSCLEY! LOOK! LOOK AT ME! LET’S GO PUNCH SOME GUYS WEARING EYELINER!”

By now he had realised that I was a lost cause and had cut me off mid-sentence to talk to Olivia. Well, either that or I had confused him by using a word containing more than two syllables, chortle! (Look at me being a typical bitter fatso; trying to use my intelligence to belittle those who are better looking than me! I would make a fantastic internet troll).

Him: So how about you, are you with a gym?

Olivia: Well, no…

What Olivia was avoiding telling him is that she was a member of his gym, until realising she was paying £50 a month to use their swimming pool for about ten minutes twice a week, before having to get out because it was too busy. Don’t worry though; she got her money’s worth in her own special way. I won’t tell you exactly how, but it involved a shitload of tokens and a bitchin’ tan.

The thing is, the Days find confrontation very hard to deal with; even if it’s just telling charity muggers and gym buffs with clipboards that you can’t give to their cause right now. You have no idea how many gyms we’ve joined and how many charities we’ve supported just to avoid those awkward few seconds between us saying no and them turning away to hassle someone else. But it’s those seconds that seem to last a lifetime; the intensity of their judgemental stare is enough to make my eyes water. So I tried to help Olivia out, because she was starting to sweat, and I think the size of his arms made her feel bad about the large Thorton’s ice cream we were eating.

Me: It’s late, we really should be getting back to work

Him: Hold on – I thought you worked at the gym?

Me: I do, I have two jobs!

Woooah! I didn’t realise it was an interrogation! I’m surprised he didn’t smack the ice cream cup out of my hand.

So long story short, Olivia caved, and was bombarded with calls from the gym for the next two months. That’s right; SHE EVEN GAVE THEM THE CORRECT PHONE NUMBER. I’m not entirely sure why she didn’t just tell him that she was a member of the gym where I work, because she is. That’s the results of peer pressure I guess – we’re the kind of people who’ll get killer abs because we don’t want to tell our personal trainer that we’re not that keen on sit-ups.

About a week ago I was leaving work and the same guy was still trying to intimidate fat men and hot women into joining the gym using obesity statistics and his ever-expanding biceps. He stopped me as I came out of the building by shouting to me that I’d dropped something. Of course, I hadn’t dropped anything, but I stupidly turned around anyway and by the time my eyes had stopped searching the floor for this so-called “gay card”, he was so close to my face and staring so intently into my eyes I felt like he had me in a metaphorical headlock, ruffling my hair with his knuckles.

I would just like to point out that he definitely didn’t think I was one of the hot girls, it’s just that from the back I look a lot like Danny Trejo.

Him: Hey there! Would you like to join our gym?

Me: Please…No…

Him: Why not?

Me: …Becaaaause… Because I’m too poor…

I follow his eyes down to the two bulging bags in my right hand filled with new clothes and a foot-long Subway.

Fucks sake.

Him: You don’t look too poor Sir….

Me: FINE. Fine. I give up. I’ll join your gym.

Him: Ok fab! Just give me your name and phone number, sir.

Me: I’m a girl, ok? I have boobs. This is just an unflattering top.

And then I had a stroke of genius. I take his personalised pen and scribble down a number on his clipboard, below the tremulous scrawls of all the other scared fatties pressured into signing up.

Him: Great! We’ll call you!

Me: FANTASTIC! I’m so looking forward to working out in your fabulous gym, because if this polite and completely non-forceful exchange is anything to go by, I’m going to have a completely relaxing and uninterrupted time.

And then I walked away, happy and smug. Good luck, gym guy – good luck calling YOURSELF!! AAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!  That’s right, I gave that SOB the number to his own gym! And he didn’t even notice! I can just imagine it now: him spending hours trying to call me, bewildered but never fully making the connection between the engaged tone and the suspiciously simultaneous flashing of a caller on Line 2; hitting himself over the head with the phone like the confused primate that he is.

However, I think if my karma were a person, it would be one of the gym bully’s Neanderthal frat boy colleagues – the type whose biggest concerns were his body fat percentage and figuring out how he can watch sports and bone chicks at the same time. I say this because a couple of days later, as I reached across my desk to get a pen, my back went. Like an old age pensioner. I was convinced I’d slipped a disc but my health freak mum said I was being over dramatic; that I’d probably just pulled a muscle, and if I just drank more water none of this would have happened (this is her solution to everything: “I think if those angry fellows in Syria just drank more water they would be so much calmer. And have flawless complexions”). Nevertheless, I’ve been walking around like the elderly prisoner from Aladdin all week.

Personally, I hate the gym. Physically I’m a very weak person. I probably don’t look like it; I have the kind of physique that makes people think it’s ok to ask me if I’ve ever thought about amateur wrestling. Of course competitive sports are my nightmare; I remember my mum making me go to judo competitions as a pup (I don’t know why I couldn’t just go to gymnastics like all the other girls), and hating the pressure of having to writhe around on the floor with a total stranger, as they tugged at my clothes and tried to get me on my back in front of a huge group of riled-up, over-competitive parents. I swear someone’s mum once told their child to “rip [me] a new one”. I used to just admit defeat, because my judo jacket would come open so easily, and I was wearing thermal vests way longer than I should have been. So I’d lie on my back, put very little effort into pushing off the opponent slumped across my torso, before returning to the bench with a bruised ego and a massive wedgie, watching my rival’s mother flip me the bird as I went.

I actually did gymnastics one time after I gave up on judo. I was so close to enjoying it, until I tried to act less like an overweight 9-year-old unable to do up her leotard and more like the malnourished, backflipping, scrunchie-wearing skeletons that surrounded me, and bruised my vagina on a pummel horse.

I don’t think parents should overly encourage competiveness in their kids. A desire to succeed is healthy, but it’s those kids with the overbearing parents that end up with a ridiculously extreme competitive streak that makes them think it’s cool to have a neck that’s the same width as their head, or shout in people’s faces when they win quizzes.

It’s entirely possible that I’m just bitter because I grew up being picked on for looking like Chunk’s slightly better looking but equally fat sister. The only good thing about growing up overweight is developing boobs early. Luckily I wasn’t hindered with those weird boobs that really fat people get – the ones that resemble loads of socks stuffed into a pair of tights. They were pretty fantastic if I do say so myself, even though I was probably a little young to have them; my mum decided to buy me my first bra after she watched me vigorously attempt the egg and spoon race on sports day.

I’ll be honest, I can’t even do a press-up. I had to do them at this bootcamp thing once, and I fell straight to the ground and got gravel embedded in my cheek. To be fair it’s not because I’m torso heavy anymore, it’s because my arms are ridiculously weak. The size of my body is completely disproportionate to the size of my wrists and ankles. I can’t even wear bracelets or watches, it’s so sad…

I do, however, think sport is excellent (when I’m watching it on tv with a bargain bucket). I think this year’s Olympics really brought sport back to prominence in England, because at my gym, there is a lot less room in the pool to swim than six months ago, and it seems that all these new swimmers are POOL NAZIS. Only last week a woman of at least eighty turned to me, propped her goggles on her forehead, looked me straight in the eye and told me not to swim so close to her or she’ll end up kicking me. After she put her goggles back on and pinged her swimming cap at me in a threatening manner, she continued to swim an unrecognisable stroke that caused her to stay pretty much in the same place. I think if she did kick me, instead of causing any collateral damage to myself, I could honestly imagine her leg just snapping off without her noticing. To be honest I think that would be way more interesting that seeing a plaster bobbing around. I could use it as a float.


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