Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pyrrhic victory

I’d just got onto the treadmill the other day, when a ‘gentleman’ entered the gym, found all the cardio machines taken, and commented loud enough for me to hear, “The non serious people shouldn’t be allowed into the gym when we men are training.”
What he meant to say was that it would be considerate of the stay-at-home wives and mothers to go to the gym after the office goers were done. But neither in words, nor in tone did he say that.
Since his statement did not have the intended effect of making me get off while stammering aplogies to him, he parked himself on a bench and proceeded to glare at me till the person next to me was done with his treadmill.

I try very hard not to get into unnecessary scraps (much better to pick my battles, I have now realized), but this man really put me off. Not only was he stereotyping, he was stereotyping on multiple levels. Female, therefore not working – sure, more than 90% of the women in my building don’t work despite being professionally qualified, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that every female is a stay-at-home mom or wife. But it was the ‘non serious’ bit that really got to me – what about me suggested that I was not as aware of my fitness levels as he was? In fact, if I went by all the extra tyres he was carrying around his tummy, he worked out far less than I did.

His entire attitude towards me was absolutely condescending, and I was still seething when he claimed the treadmill next to mine. When he glared at me before starting off, something snapped.
“So you think women are not serious about fitness, do you? How about a challenge? You pick the speed, and let’s see which of us runs longer.”
He should have known better than to take it up, but after making his position clear, he couldn’t back away from the challenge either. He started off at 12 kmph, and I followed. It was faster, much faster than I normally run – to be honest, I hadn’t expected him to pick such a high speed – but I had too much at stake to think about it.
One minute later, both of us were panting. Half a minute after that, he seemed ready to collapse. Fifteen seconds after that, he gave up. I drawing on the last reserves of my strength, but continued for a minute longer, before nonchalantly giving him a grin, and reducing my speed to a light jog.

I had won! A personal victory and a blow against gender stereotyping.

But at what cost? Muscles I had forgotten existed ached for two days after that. Now I know what the term pyrrhic victory means!

Will I do it again? Undoubtedly! The one thing I cannot stand is stereotyping.
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Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Good for you! How infuriating. I wonder if he ended up being ashamed of himself later. Sometimes you wonder what comes over people...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Catchword said...

Hurrah for you! I'd like to tell him for you "Not all men are dopes, not all women are frivolous. You, sir, acted dopey but I will give you a fair chance not to be included in the stereotype. Would that you would do the same for me!" Jan from Crazy Jane

Watery Tart said...

EXCELLENT! Good for you, Natasha! Oh the sweet victory. I know the muscle pain is no fun, but doesn't it remind you every time how you put that jerk in his place? A WORTH IT kind of pain! I probably just would have told him off (probably an an 'attempting to reasonably explain' tone at first... "I have a job you know. And I work out almost daily." But your victory is much sweeter, because you actually showed him up.

Ron said...

Been lurking on your blog for a while. Just had to de lurk to say good for you!! I have faced similar obnoxious behaviour from these alpha male types in my gym as well..only in my case I didnt have to challenge him, the power went off and the treadmill stopped and he fell face front:D I did laugh long and loud though.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Elizabeth - not sure he knows the meaning of the word ashamed. He was upset at being shown up in public, but contrite, no way!

@ Jan - nice new name that! I'll remember that for next time. Victory is sweet (whatever the cost), but grace is something to aspire for.

@ Tart - you know me too well. Yes, every time my muscles ached, I remembered the sweet victory - well worth it.

@ Ron - welcome to the blog - I do with lurkers leave a footprint, if only so they can get a welcome.
You had me laughing out loud with your account. I'll never say it in front of the kids, but it is fun seeing obnoxious people fall flat on their face.

Doli said...

Yippee! Im doing a victory dance here for you!yayayyaya im so happy finally a woman stood up to these MCPs :) woo hoo! Go girl! you rock :)

Not Hannah said...

You are awesome! I actually pumped my fist and said, "YEAH!" when I read the end of this story.

Aleta said...

What an absolute (*#&^%(*#*$ for making that comment! Freakin' GREAT that you gave him that competition and WON! WOOT TO YOU!

Marjorie said...

Woo Hoo! It's jerks like him that make us more timid souls nervous to to the gym. I'm so glad you showed him up.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I am applauding you from the west coast of Canada. Can you hear it? Good for you!


dipali said...

What a moronic man!
Hope you've recovered from your victory:)

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Doli - thanks.
@ Heather - one up for us, right? Not just for women, but for sensible people.
@ Aleta - welcome to my blog. And thanks!
@ Marjorie - people like him can be overpowering, but don't let them intimidate you. They are the idiots!
@ Elspeth - yes I can. *grins*
@ dipali - now I have, yes. And it was totally worth it!


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