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Better To Be Scary Than Weak

Posted Nov 17 2008 9:19pm

Parroting the oft-told axiom that men find strong women frightening, a personal trainer at the Y today said of Gym Buddy Allison and I: "Those girls scare me."

My first reaction was, "Us? Scary??" We're about as scary as the Hamburgler. (Seriously, Ronald McDonald is scary. But if I met the Hamburgler in a dark alley? You know it'd start with "gimme your wallet" and end with fist bumps and "just messin' with you, man!") Perhaps the trainer was afraid that we'd do something stupid and make quadriplegics out of ourselves and sue the Y. But I'm pretty sure that all-encompassing liability waiver we signed when we got our memberships prevents us from ever living that dream. Besides, while we try lots of different things, we don't do anything terribly risky. The worst we're in danger of are some wicked bruises, a rolled ankle or possibly a pulled ab muscle from laughing too hard.

My second reaction was to puff out my chest and growl, "He should be scared, by golly! We could kick his butt!" And then I realized that anyone who says "by golly" - even in their imagination - is inherently not scary. Plus, I like to talk big (and kiss my biceps when no one's looking) but I really have no idea how to handle myself in a fight. In a showdown, I'm sure I'd be the one eating mat. Allison and I can't even play basketball without apologizing every 2 minutes and saying, "No really, you take another shot - I had the ball last time!" It's kinda pathetic, actually.

Gym Buddy Mike has his own theory. "It's because you guys have no fear and that's what personal trainers usually do, is help people overcome their fears. He knows you don't need him." He added, "Take it as a compliment, really." It's true. Allison and I do not worship the personal trainers as the purveyors of all fitness knowledge. Which isn't to say that he is stupid. I'm sure he knows many things that I do not. I'm just saying that we dare to use the "weird" equipment and try out new exercises and we're not reliant on the personal trainers to show us how.

Or perhaps he finds us scary because we are markedly unfeminine in the gym. Despite always wearing sports bras and pony tails, we routinely invade the male-dominated areas of the gym. We wear weight gloves and talk about one-rep maxes. We can list seven different exercises to hit all three heads of your shoulder. We do CrossFit and pull-ups and handstand pushups. I even belched today - loudly - for good measure. We're working up to scratching ourselves.

I have to say, I'm a little sad that he finds us "scary," for whatever reason. Because ultimately I'd rather work with people and share knowledge then be fighting them for gym space. In the end though, I'd rather be scary than weak so if being strong makes me scary then bring it on.

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