Let me say right off that I love the gym I go to. It's relatively small, rarely crowded, and pretty friendly to women. After a long day like today (at work from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM), it's really helpful to get sweaty while reading a fashion/fitness/gossip magazine.
Today, though, I noticed something. In a recent issue of Shape, the two "success" stories both included anecdotes about nasty comments. The first woman was told by a snooty salesperson that she was "already wearing the largest size the store made," and was so devastated by the thought of shopping in a plus-size store that she decided to change her ways. The second woman went to a family reunion, only to have her grandfather-in-law say that he "couldn't fit his arms around her" after he hugged her. In front of the rest of the family.
I'm not bitching about the magazines themselves. If I really didn't like them, I wouldn't read them. Weight-loss stories can be inspiring for people who are trying to improve their health (although I wish the focus was actually on health rather than weight loss). But the point is that these women were shamed into losing weight - one by a person who had no business passing judgment and one by a family member. Thing is, shame is not an effective weight-loss method.
Something else happened at the gym today. I was well into some cardio on the bike a when I finished my magazine. I took a break and went to find another, trashier if possible. As I looked over the selection, a trainer drew me into a conversation about why people get personal trainers. I replied with a polite smile and nod.
Then he said, "You know, if you're doing cardio correctly you shouldn't be able to read."
I gave him my sweetest, fakest smile and said "I know." But once I got back to my bike I was too angry and upset to go on.
I tried to think about why I was so angry, and I talked to Jim about it to get his perspective. First, I know he is probably a nice person and just wanted to give me some advice. Second, I really think you can use cardio machines correctly and manage to read, say, People. Also I was literally dripping sweat when he said that to me - do I look like I'm doin' it wrong? And finally, as Jim pointed out, a lot of personal trainers think everyone (I would say every woman) has the same goal - to thinner. The guy had no idea why I was there (to get sweaty and read a bad magazine), and because of that, he shouldn't have said anything.
Buddy, if I wanted your advice, I'd pay for it.