Me and my gym bunny coworker Tipper were working out this morning. As we do three mornings a week on average.
We’re both female. We both love strength training. We both like to make “dem gainz” as the meatheads like to phrase it.
This morning we started with bench press. I’d upped my bench by 2.5kg and so had Tipper. We’d already completed 3 sets of 6 and 5 reps respectively. Our pecs and biceps and triceps and cores were burning.
Tipper had one set to go. Now I’ll be honest – that last set of hers was not pretty. She was close to fatigue and it was guts and willpower to make each rep, not strength and form.
And yet halfway through her last set a middle-aged overweight white male came and interrupted us. Right in the middle of her press. He said: “Can I just say something?”
And I said: “Not in the middle of a set you can’t.”
So he stood over us and watched as Tipper battled up her last rep with guts and not a lot of pretty.
And then as she was still lying there, he pointed at her and said: “That weight’s too heavy for her.”
I looked at Tipper and then looked at him. “Too heavy? She just finished her set.”
He shook his head. “No. I’m telling you that weight’s too heavy for her.”
And he walked off. I think what pissed me off the most was that he was talking to me, not Tipper, as though her effort meant nothing and I was somehow her spokesperson. Or maybe he thought I was forcing her to do too much.
What he obviously hadn’t thought was that interrupting us in the middle of a set could have had serious consequences. If he’d startled one or both of us Tipper might have lost control of that weight and broken her sternum or her face.
We could hear him lamenting our ignorance to another man as I set up for my final set and I could feel them watching the whole time. I was so angry that weight flew up like it was nothing.
And then during the rest of our session – bent over row, overhead press, kb windmills and sandbag front-loaded good mornings – he kept appearing. Watching us. Wandering around the gym with a bottle of ribena telling men how hard and strong they were and how well they were performing. Encouraging them. Telling them to push those last reps when they were fatigued and close to failure. Just like Tipper.
We didn’t see him lift a single weight of his own or do any form of exercise in the hour we were there. He praised a lot of men. He praised one woman – she was on an exercise bike.
We were the only people – the only women – who were subjected to his supercilious brand of ‘advice’.
I’m always happy to receive advice and support in the gym, especially if I’m learning a new skill like kb swings or Turkish get ups. But he didn’t offer advice.
Every fibre of his rather overweight being radiated horror that women were in the weights room and it seemed that he hoped to make us believe we didn’t know what we were doing and so leave. I guess we tapped directly into his tiny-penis anxiety.
What did we do instead? We had a hardcore damn workout and strutted through that weights room like we owned it.
So screw you, fat guy. Get off our case and get your flabby ass on a little bicycle. I wouldn’t bother with the weights, sir. I think they might be too heavy for you.
Tipper (far right): And though she be but little, she is fierce.
Published by Anna Stephens
Anna Stephens a UK-based epic, gritty, fantasy author.
Anna is a literature graduate, a karateka, a HEMA practitioner and a dog owner, among other strange and nefarious pursuits and powers.
She's represented by Harry Illingworth of DHH Literary Agency and sub-agented by Cameron McClure of Donald Maass Lit Agency for North America.
The complete Godblind trilogy - Godblind, Darksoul and Bloodchild - is now available in all good book shops and online in the UK and Commonwealth (excluding Canada), with translated versions available - or soon to be available - in French, German, Polish, Dutch and Czech.
The Stone Knife, book one of Songs of the Drowned, is also available, as well as The Serpent and the Dead for Marvel and Gothghul Hollow (February 2022) for Warhammer Horror.
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