by Susan Wenner Jackson
Remember that cheesy deodorant tagline from the 80s: “Never let ‘em see you sweat”? For the past few months, as part of my New Year’s get-fit resolution, I’ve been breaking that rule of female empowerment at the office.
Between meetings, at lunch, after work – pretty much whenever I can find the time – I head down to our office gym for a seriously sweaty workout. That includes changing into my unflattering exercise attire (oversized T-shirt and yoga pants) in the locker room, which is nestled behind my coworkers’ cubicles. Then, I stride past those coworkers (who all happen to be male in that area), who are still clad in regular clothes and going about their work, and head into the gym.
Once I’m in, I do my thing. A little treadmill here, a little elliptical there, burning off my excess fat, one drop of sweat at a time. Sometimes, I throw in some smooth weight-lifting moves, lunging my way across the gym floor or squatting my big ol’ butt into shape.
Often during these sessions, I’m alone—and I like it that way. Many of my colleagues either don’t work out or go somewhere else to sweat. But I’m cheap and would rather use my free office gym than pay for a membership somewhere else. Plus, I can watch my story (All My Children) if I go after lunch! So I have the benefit of enjoying Erica Kane’s aging feminine wiles while I turn into a stinky, red-faced Fatty McGee, sans audience.
Like when HR brings a potential hire in for an office tour. “And this is our brand-new, state-of-the-art workout facility … Ohhh, hiiii. Sorry, didn’t know anyone was in here.” Awkward looks and smiles all around. I just wave and try to look as professional as possible. Too. Out. Of breath. To talk.
Or when a coworker sneaks in just to watch TV. I know who they are, because they’re still wearing work clothes and always get that hand-in-the-cookie jar face when they see me. I pant a hello and they pretend like they meant to come in and workout. After about 2.5 minutes on the treadmill, these fakers slink back out to the office. I’m still sweating.
After my workout, I look terrible: shining with sweat, ponytail hair, and if I was wearing makeup before—man, it’s gone. I walk back out into the man cubicles, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible, and into the locker room. I shower (if I have time), change back into my regular clothes, and attempt to salvage my hair and makeup.
I never look as good going out as I did coming in. Hey, I’m not thrilled about letting my colleagues see me sweat. But with 33 pounds lost so far, I’ll sacrifice my office rep as a cool, calm, collected woman for my incredibly shrinking behind.