Clan of the Gym Rat – from “She’s Losing It!”
If you’re new to my blog (hi!) you might not know that I wasn’t always into bodybuilding, or even fit! I started this blog five years ago when I was 50 lbs. overweight and entered a bodybuilding competition as a last-ditch effort to shake the baby fat before my 20th high school reunion.
Long story short I lost the weight and fixed my messy life in the process. It was such a life changing experience I ended up writing a book about it called “She’s Losing It!” as a Rocky for Moms.
Lots of books show the before and after pictures but never talk about all the messy stuff that happens in between. I wrote about the messy stuff: fights with my husband, being called out by my trainer, self-sabotage, and trying to balance strength training with potty-training my toddler. (The struggle is real.)
It’s been five years and I’ve managed to keep the weight off. I’ve been interviewed by dozens of magazines, TV shows and podcasts about my transformation story and I hope that by sharing it other people will be inspired to realize that change is possible and you can get healthy, even after kids, even in your 40’s. Because if I can do it, so can anyone!
Here is an excerpt from my memoir, “She’s Losing It!”. This is when I’ve signed up for my gym membership but haven’t had my first training session yet
“Clan of the Gym Rat”
In high school sociology class we had to read “Clan of the Cave Bear” and dissect the various social mores of the clan. We also had to then pick a clique within our school to study and discover the rules of how their tribe worked. High school is filled with factions: jocks, geeks, drama club, druggies, outcasts, sluts, lone wolves, mean girls, etc., etc. It was a fascinating assignment and I never really looked at social circles the same way again.
In the adult world we name these tribal rules “corporate culture” and “social climbing.” The gym is no different. People who work out all the time are the tribal elites. I refer to them as the Gym Rats. Gym Rats only respect two things: 1) a fit body, 2) evidence of an improved body.
As a newbie to the gym, you can immediately identify the Gym Rats because they are 1) incredibly ripped, and 2) will completely ignore you if your fitness level is less than theirs.
Each January a fresh crop of newbies enter the tribal gyms in an effort to lose weight and follow through with their New Year’s Resolutions. Gym Rats are vaguely annoyed by this annual ritual because it means the parking lot is crowded and they have to wait for their favorite equipment. But they will give a cursory glance at the newbies and place bets on how long each will last.
People who really don’t want to be at the gym are the first victims in the evolutionary process. You can tell they won’t last past January 5th because they are the ones who are reading books on the treadmill. Another general tell-tale sign of someone about to get voted off the island is the person who wears jeans and flip flops to work out in.
By mid-January the crowds have thinned and you begin to recognize other people who consistently take fitness classes with you. You mentally note who is fatter, thinner and the same size as you so you can begin to compare your fitness progress.
People who know they need help will hire a personal trainer. People who are serious about getting healthy show enthusiasm trying to keep step as their trainer moves from one machine to the next. (It seems like trainers enjoy running from one area of the gym to the next just to see how winded they can get their clients.) The people who just aren’t into it can be spotted easily too. They are the ones who show up late to their sessions and seem to talk more than train, probably about why it’s too hard for them to train.
Do-It-Yourselfers will stand behind people lifting dumbbells and try to mimic the exercises being done. But being newbies, their form will be completely wrong and the Gym Rat will try very hard to not laugh at them. (After all – the newbie is trying, and this is respected by the Gym Rat…subject to certain provisions.)
The Gym Rat will give a perfunctory nod of approval to newbies showing up to the gym consistently at 5 a.m. But if the newbie’s body has not improved within a one month time frame all respect is lost, because a Gym Rat knows that the newbie might be exercising but is not eating “clean” which is why the newbie is still fat.
Right now I’m trying the Do-It-Yourself thing, but soon I will have a trainer. And some weird bodybuilder diet. And maybe one day I’ll be a Gym Rat?
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, on FOX!!!
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