The other day, while I was getting a drink at the water cooler at my Y, my little paper ice-cream-cone-shaped cup collapsed, and I spilled water down the front of my shirt. A minute later, one of the regulars there said to me, “Wow, you’re really working up a sweat! Good for you!” It took me a few seconds to realize what prompted his accolade, and I was about to set him straight, but then I got to thinking. Why not let him think I was a fitness freak? What’s the harm in that? Maybe it makes him feel good and encourages him to keep working hard because, after all, he is a young man in his thirties, and he probably needs to see an older woman who keeps moving and exercising. It prompted me to think of other ways I could help inspire people at the Y, and I’ve developed several strategies so far besides the water-down-the-shirt trick. (By the way, you need to toss a little water over your shoulder onto your back to really make it look like authentic work-out sweat.) Here are some things that seem to be working for me:
1. Know the lingo. Talk about your abs, pecs, hammies, glutes and lats, getting ripped or shredded, split body and interval training, and talk about your yogatude.
2. Walk around with a weight belt on.
3. Go over to a young man who is pressing a barbell loaded with weights so heavy you didn’t know they existed, and ask if he needs you to spot for him. Don’t worry; he will never take you up on your offer, but I love the look on his face!
4. Every time you leave one weight machine and move on to another, make sure you surreptitiously move that little peg to a heavier weight. A much heavier weight. You should see people look with amazement and adulation at me when they sit down at a machine I have just vacated and see that I had been lifting 180 pounds.
5. And no, it is not cheating to wear Spanx under your work-out clothes.
I’m still developing other techniques to promote my fitness image. For instance, I plan to become a spinhead and wear full biking gear when I go to my spin class. But for now, these five practices help me be an inspiration to the people who frequent my Y. It’s my little contribution to society, and I’m glad to do it.