I belong to L.A. Fitness which I don't really love: something about it just feels very soulless and corporate, or maybe, as a Chicagoan, I am suspicious of why allegedly L.A. has the monopoly on fitness. ("Nice bitching Claire--then why do you belong there?" you might ask. My answer is that it's in my office building at work and the convenience/cost is hard to beat.) I also don't understand why they are incapable of throwing a few boxes of Kleenex in the women's locker room (per my suggestion) especially during cold/flu season, but whatever.
One thing that I do like about my particular location is that the women in the locker room tend to be quite supportive of each other. It's not the perfect locker room--there are a lot of women in there who for some reason like to make calls on speakerphone, which can be off-putting, but at least it's not oppressively chilly (by which I mean bitchy) the way the locker room was at my dad's downtown health club. I used to go work out with him a long time ago and sometimes still used the extra-fancy VIP locker room even when I didn't have a key because I still remembered the door code until a member hissed at me "I know you don't belong in here." Well, fair enough, I didn't, but it wasn't like I was using her locker (because hers had her name on it.)
Anyway, at my current gym, you hear a lot of women not only greeting each other but congratulating each other on their fitness. "It makes me so happy to see you in here, taking good care of yourself," is something I've actually heard. Isn't that great? What a nice, non-body-conscious way to support your fellow woman's efforts at physical health.
I typically hear these exchanges between women I assume are friends and acquaintances but as my pregnancy becomes more and more prominent I hear it too. "Good for you for staying so active!" I hear, or "I just know that's going to be a happy baby," or just "You look great." I think this is, largely, b.s. I do a very leisurely 30 minute elliptical to an InStyle magazine or swim slowly in the pool for a bit and if I looked so great how come my daycare lady tells me every day that I look tired? And on top of that the other day I stupidly looked up #35weeks (which is how far I am) on Instagram and was rewarded with lots of photos of #fitmoms. I'm not a #fitmom. #Fitmoms who are having #fitpregnancies are very skinny women who have huge bellies simply glued onto their tiny bodies. I'm a round woman whose roundness gently evolves into a round belly and then just goes back into a genearl roundness elsewhere.
However, the fact that these women are gently lying to me does not diminsh how much I appreciate their doing it. It doesn't make me feel good or proud that they congratulate or compliment me but it does make me feel good that they are kind enough to say something nice when they really don't have to. They probably know I don't feel great and are in fact just being nice, and I appreciate that niceness. Every now and then I wonder if it's mean of us to dump new kids into a world that is possibly falling apart and say "Here, we're going to tell you this is a wonderful, magical place--and you have to solve all its problems after we're gone." But other times, it's good to realize that at some places (specifically the Hyde Park L.A. Fitness), people can still be good.