The Workout Enemy

Everyone’s got one. Or four.


I used to enter my workouts innocently — yawning mostly, blinking a lot, putting my hair up into a ponytail like a drunk sloth while wondering how I made it from my bed to the gym without getting hit by a car. I was docile and calm in those early minutes before the slow drip of adrenaline kicked in, not yet emboldened by the hubris and ego that comes with a completed workout nor struck with the mid-class panic of realizing it isn’t over yet.

“Find a spot by the bar,” the instructor would say.

I’ve had the same spot every single day for the past two months — it’s near the back right corner of the room, in front of the mirror but not too close to the teacher. In order to secure bar-territory one has to literally mark it (if you do this with pee like a cat, that’s considered weird, so I just set a water bottle down at the beginning, like a human). But if there’s no time upon entry, you have to mark it with your eyes, and do that quick-walk with clenched butt cheeks, which propels you forward faster without running. You don’t want to appear crazy enough to actually make a bee-line for a specific spot.

You know who is, though? My workout enemy number 1: Racer Back. And she is coming for my corner.

Racer Back spends 80% of her paycheck on gym clothes and has a hard time understanding the same etiquette that the high school cafeteria model relies on — aka, your spot is your spot until graduation unless an approved mandate states otherwise. She is either oblivious, or rude, I can’t tell. But because it’s before I’ve had my coffee and my sports bra is pinching me, Racer Back just stole my spot and therefore she is the devil.

Workout enemy number 2 is The Instructor. I’m her teacher’s pet for about the first 15 minutes — “Look how high my knees go!” I demonstrate. “Look at my form! My stance! And my sweat!” But the second she calls me out, the moment she corrects me, my Favorite Instructor becomes dead to me.

The next to go is her assistant. The assistant always has something to prove (namely, I suppose, that she is good at her job) but I watch her watching me every morning like a hawk eyeing a falcon, and the second she breaks to walk in my direction, I go red. Then, when she pinches the fat between my shoulders on my back to “improve” my posture and “protect” my lower back, it takes every bit of strength in my stupid isometrically-pumping arms to not throw back my elbow at her nose. Toning move!

Workout enemies aren’t limited to classes that penalize you for being 2 minutes late, however. If you run, there’s always a girl trying to race you. Easy there, New York Marathon. This thing I’m doing is called a jog. If you ellipt, there’s always some guy on your machine watching a full season of Game of Thrones. Or GIRLS. If you lift weights, Jen Selter is hogging them, and if you cycle, then god bless.

These days I enter my workouts like a warrior: abs in, fists up and mouth guard locked on. My instructor says the mouth guard is unnecessary considering the nature of the class — barre — but I’m a product of Darwinism and the Boy Scouts of America and if you’re not prepared, you’ll die. Like Muhammad Ali said: float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, and pray for the woman who tries to steal my spot at the bar.

Rant over. Your turn!

Image Courtesy of, shot by Arthur Elgort, 2003

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  • Dominique
  • Rosaly

    hahah love this. I totally agree about the racing. Whenever I am on the treadmill and someone is next to me, I can’t help but think of it as a competition. Oh you’re going to run on 6.5? Bring it on 7.0…wait no just kidding 6.6 will do!

    • charmystique

      Me too!!! And the sidewards glances to see if you’re keeping up. :X

    • Aisha S

      Run next to me!! I like to keep the bar real low at 5ish…haha

  • GapToothedGirl

    LOL!! I always love your writing style!

    XOX, Gap.

  • hahahha i literally laughed out loud at this! the butt-clenching line got me hard, I DO THIS!! Sometimes during zumba class, the studio is so unbelievably crowded, i need my spot and i want the other members to take note and notice the imaginary circle (of at least a 1 meter radius) around me, if anyone happens to cross that imaginary line, they’re screwed.. i may by complete accident elbow them

  • charmystique

    During ABT class, it’s a race to see who can do more squats, the lower the better. I think it’s the natural competitive streak in me, I love pushing myself further than the whoever’s on either side of me. Even though many a time it ends with me walking out of the class with jelly legs or cramped abs. Well isn’t that the whole point of going to the gym though?! Some friendly competition?

  • CarlotaLMorais

    I would say that I’m the worst. I have 60 year old grandmas in my gym
    class that do everything, and I mean everything, better than me! Im afraid that
    the instructor may approach me and say “Im sorry, but you should leave,
    you are making a fool of yourself”. And I am, but still, these 3
    kilos I gained have to leave my body somehow!

  • Love it! How true. Although, often it is me, pitted against me..oh yeah, and that 80 year old couple who are gaining on me as I climb another hill (rock climbing/hiking in Phoenix).

  • Ivana Džidić

    I have almost no experiences with gyms whatsoever…Probably because I can’t stand the smell…being outdoors (even if outdoors happen to be a city park) appeals more to both my visual and my olfaction senses.

  • LISA

    The racer-back portion is so true for me! I’ve fallen off of the work out wagon, but I always had MY spot in my usz group exercises classes. So did all of the other regulars. But when someone new got there and took my spot, I was secretly steaming all class! Another thing I hate is when people are too close to me in group ex. I don’t like strangers in my personal space. Back the F up, beotch!

  • Caroline

    Hahaha this MUST be a Bar Method class… I recognize the status quo all too well.

  • The sweaty Mc Sweat-sweat guy who drips all over my yoga mat. I dont even like yoga WHY AM I HERE?!

  • pourlamour

    Let’s lay down the bar-method here. Routine!! Method = routine. STAY IN YOUR LANE. I’m in the left lane, at the end of the bar. Enter, and you’re dead to me.

  • Blue Labels Boutique

    I agree that it is HARD to get out of the bed and get started. But once you’re done, it is always so worth it!

  • Mariah

    I feel like this whenever I take an adult dance class. There are the professional dancers and then there’s people like me who want a good workout and end up crying inside that I can’t do splits or have that perfect posture.

  • Yes! This so resonates with me because I just started taking barre classes and have noticed that 1.) I am the only freaking one who sweats and 2.) the thousands of dollars people spend on lululemon, athleta, etc. to look moderately good looking at the gym. In theory I totally get #2, but c’mon ladies, you are going to sweat (maybe) in these things – spend your money on clothes that you only accidentally sweat in. I also get that death glare in my eyes when I notice the instructor approaching to correct my form, but nothing feels sweeter than a “Good job, Kate!”

    Also, I knew this was an Amelia post even before I read the byline. Love your style, girl!

  • ee_by_cc

    Hilarious. I’m a fellow bar lover (I’m a Bar Method Soho devotee!) so that just established a certain kinship. 🙂

  • You are hilarious. I laughed so hard visualizing the exact same things that happen at my gym. Thanks 🙂

  • Lyric

    How about the people in the weight room who like to grunt and moan and smash weights around. If you have to be THAT loud to lift and NEED to Hulk smash (more like Hulk drop) your weights, maybe you should pick up something a little less heavy until you can work in such a way that doesn’t sound like a silverback gorilla in heat.

    But, I love weight lifting, and there aren’t nearly enough ladies in the weight room. Come join me! It’s actually incredibly hard to get “bulky” (which so many women seem to worry about).

    • One of my jobs is below a gym and OMG those people and their HULK DROPPING. Pipes literally are falling off the ceiling.

  • Maura

    My favorite friend in my building just started running with me, we’ll call her Tits Magee. She wears only a jog bra and very small running shorts. I hate her. I actually really like her, but I hate her.

  • City_Girl

    Workout Frenemy #1: the treadmill. Or, the dreadmill–whatever tickles your fancy. (It’s a tomato-tomahto kind of thing)

    Oh how I loathe thee, treadmill. What with your belt to nowhere, sometimes working fan and confusing buttons. I try–desperately–to distract myself from how much I hate the device with as much technology as possible. The TV, Pandora, etc. Nothing works.

    It’s still terrible. It gets the job done, but often at the cost of my mental stability.

  • So funny and so true! When I’m without coffee in my body and it’s early I bite. It takes a lot of patience and strenght to stay calm!

  • LuxuryMuse

    Honestly Leandra! You’re fucking hilarious! Great post

    XOXO Luxury Muse

    • Leandra Medine

      I did not write this!

  • Hahaha, so funny. I don’t particularly care for such open competition: if you want to look pathetic running for my spot, be my guest. I will move to a different one. And than I will lift my leg so high that you won’t even be able to see it for the freaking clouds.

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  • S. Jones

    Loved this. One time a guy on the treadmill next to me looked up when I finished sprinting like a mad woman at the end of my workout and said “Great job!” I acted all huffy, as if to convey “I’m here for me and my own satisfaction!” But during my last set of intervals I had been imagining I was wiping the pavement with him. So getting congratulated by the person whose ass I had just been pretending to kick made me feel extra, extra cool.

  • Frankie

    Sweet Jesus…why am I just now finding your blog. I need to buy you a drink. Because not too many women can make me laugh like you just did. haha

  • john
  • godmothersupreme

    hahahahaaaaaa I kinda remember these days….waaaayyy back when I gave a damn about working out [more than I do now]

  • So I’m REALLY late to the party, but this blog is absolutely hilarious.