My Fleeting Starring Role in a National Workout Video

For me, working out is a private affair, but my fitness center had other plans and wanted to launch me to stardom.

By Donna Cavanagh • Guest Writer
TV with weights
Photograph: iStock

I work out a great deal. I go to the gym four to five times a week. I used to swim all the time, but I felt as if I needed to change up my routine a bit and surprise my muscles. I think they got used to “what was coming” and decided they didn’t need to work as hard to get toned. So, for the past two months, I have altered my workout to shake my muscles back into peak performance. Instead of diving into the pool each morning, I head to the treadmill, bike and weights.  

The most difficult aspect of switching to “dry” workouts has been learning what to wear at the gym. When I swim, I wear my Speedo one-piece suit underneath old sweatpants and a comfy sweatshirt that is about three sizes too big. I don’t have to look good to walk through the gym. My swimming cover up clothing is there to keep me warm while I dash from the parking lot to the pool and back to the parking lot again. The nice thing also about swimming is that once I get to the pool, I am in full disguise. No one cares what I look like or even if they did, they could not tell who I am. The swim cap completely covers my big hair (yes, I did have to get the super duper model), and it is impossible to determine who is swimming the laps behind my purple goggles.  

However, now that I exercise among the masses, the entire situation has changed. I am on center stage with every other workout person on the planet, and I have to say, I don’t think I am a pretty sight. So, I have to wonder why my fitness center, which is part of a national chain, sent me an email inviting me to participate in a video profiling me and my workout routine. Yes, they want me to be in a video to show people how wonderful it is to workout at my gym, and how the experience has enriched my life.

I have to guess that the sole purpose of this company’s PR department is to sink the entire chain. Why else are they inviting me into this promotion? 

According to the email, they sought me out because I am a very active member of my gym. Did they even bother to see what I looked like before they invited me to do the video? Perhaps, they should have checked my membership photo. They took that beauty about 6 AM on a rainy day – not a flattering pose. I can always tell when there is a new front desk person because when he or she swipes my membership card into the computer and my picture comes up, there is always a shocked moment of stunned silence. Anyway, now they want me to make a freaking video. I don’t wear makeup to the gym. I wouldn’t even have on Spanx undergarments to make me look ten pounds lighter. I cannot see how this project is going to build membership.

OK, if I had to do this video, I guess I could don makeup for the cause, but I refuse to take the time to do my hair. I admit that I might wet down my hair before going to the gym to do my workout regiment because I don’t want to scare anyone, but once I start exercising, the curls just boing back into place and the bulk of my tresses expand in direct proportion to my increasing speed on the treadmill.  

Last week, an Asian lady with silky black hair commented that my treadmill should record not only my heart rate and the miles I run but also how much my hair grows during a workout. She thought she was cute. I was tempted to hit the “stop” button on her treadmill and watch as she catapulted across the gym floor. I figured a sudden stop would send her flying pretty far since she only weighed about 87 pounds sweaty.   

Next challenge for this video:  my workout clothes. OK, I did get a few pairs of the new cute yoga pants for my gym workout and some tee shirts. But I don’t have the tight fitting stuff that many of the women wear. I don’t have the coordinating gym ensembles that include the Capri pants, matching sports bra and tank tops, sweat bands, head bands and iPod arm bands. I don’t even have an iPod. I go economical and sing to myself on the treadmill. Sometimes, if there is a really gross sweaty man running next to me, I sing out loud so he thinks I am crazy, and he moves to a new machine. 

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