Health Clubs: Only for the Beautiful and the Fit
summary/annotationBy Amanda Maria Rodriguez opens by discouraging “slightly but not noticeablyoverweight” adults from joining a health club to lose weight. (266) “You will feel likea failure before you have begun,” she says. (266) As she talks about her day at thegym, it is clear she speaks from experience.Rodriguez arrives at her aerobics class and immediately feels out of place inthe “glitzy, overdecorated, migraine-inducing discotheque.” (266) She observes herclassmates, all donning trendy activewear, and compares them to her ownsweatpants and sneakers. Once her class begins, Maria attempts to join in, but feelsinferior once again as everyone starts to perform “some sort of complicated dance.”(266)After leaving the class, she feels worse than before, so she heads to theweight room. She watches the weightlifters “grunt and groan and gyrate” as theypick up the heavy dumbbells. (267) After she unknowingly tries to strike up aconversation with a particularly unhappy weightlifter who “growls” a reply, shedecides to try her luck on the walking track. (267)As Rodriguez walks, she overhears a couple of other ladies using fitnessterminology such as “crunches” and “abs,” words that are unfamiliar to her. (267-268) Feeling utterly defeated, she resorts to the dressing room, where she has arevelation: “walking in the mall is cheaper than a fitness center, and it doesn’trequire wearing spandex, being maniacally cheerful, acting morosely serious, orlearning a new language.” (268)ANNOTATION:I have trouble believing that Rodriguez could be so naïve about fitness thatshe has never even heard the word “abs.” I am no gym rat, but even I am familiarwith basic gym terminology. As far as the essay as a whole is concerned, I just didn’t“get” it. Was the essay describing her true perception of the health club or was it allexaggerated?I also did not like how Rodriguez portrayed all the weightlifters as stone-faced, egotistical, macho men. For example, she says, “They look up at themselvesin a mirror and stare purposefully at their overdeveloped bodies with a sober ‘I lookvery healthy’ look.” (267) I think Maria’s lack of understanding regarding fitnesscenter rituals amplified her feelings of inferiority in both the weight room and theaerobics class.