The Ugly Thing



Sometimes at the gym when I deadlift I look down at the floor and there’s a pattern of droplets there on the rubber mat. I have no idea how they got there. I don’t remember sweat rolling down my face, or any other part of me.

Maybe I drooled.

Maybe I peed.

I was lifting; who knows.


I have, in the past, gotten the bar almost up to height on a bench press and hollered “SON OF A BITCH” because I’m about to drop it on my face and I really don’t want to and a moment of rage at the very possibility of failure is what gets the bar that precious inch and a half higher.

Then I rack it.

The guys lifting around me don’t blink.

Mostly they don’t yell either although it does happen once in a while.


I’ve been annoyed when some jackass repeatedly, for every rep of his every set, does his Oly lift and then basically drops the bar from nipple height, causing most of the gym to shudder with the impact.

On the other hand, once I got 285 up on a dead, and about halfway down my shins that was it. I was done. Hands, arms, everything. I dropped the bar.  It bounced. It was loud. Sometimes lifting to failure means that you fail. Gravity being what it is, weights tend to fall down.

I’ve slammed the bar so hard onto the power rack after a squat I swore I was going to knock the power rack over.


The guy in the nice polo shirt shook his head when I asked if they were getting bumpers along with the other new free weights the gym signs said they were getting. “No, we’re not.”

It was a weird tone of voice.

“How come?” I asked, mostly to find out what the tone was and he finally looked up from the paperwork he’d been doing while he talked to me. I wasn’t a member of his gym. I was there helping a friend lift.

“Because frankly, that kind of lifting attracts a certain… element,” he said.

I blinked. “But I’m that element,” I told him.


So this is what I’m told.  As I look into other gyms they say “no chalk.” “No bumpers.” I’m given vague, nonsensical reasons why, like “that’s our policy,” or “we don’t want to clean up chalk,” or once in a while someone is up front with me. They don’t like this… “element” in their gym.

Or as one guy said “we feel that kind of thing intimidates our gym clientele.”


I intimidate you. With lifting.

Let me get this straight. I am 5’4″ of strawberry blonde perky tits and chubby ass doing my sets of 5×5 deadlifts with a smile on my face because goddammit deadlifting is FUN and when you need some chalk I loan it to you and if you need a spot I’ll jump over there, and pretty much every other guy in the gym would do the same with some encouraging “do it, you can do it, get it up there” patter on the side, and I’m intimidating?

I call bullshit.

Let’s catalogue what you find intimidating.

1. Big people

2. Big shouts and noises

3. Sweat and other bodily fluids

4. Grimaces and veins popping out

5. Chalk

Here’s the reality.  People are intimidated with people who are being other than acceptable standards of beauty. They’re intimidated by hurt, by struggle, by someone around them pushing their absolute limit and they’re intimidated by the signs and sounds of human failure.

They’re intimidated by pudgy chicks lifting heavy and sweating — or whatever it is I’m doing — on the floor.

By mess.

By ugly, real stuff.


Dear Gym People:

I say this with love and affection.

If you are intimidated by people lifting weights, by sounds of struggle or victory or effort, if you’re intimidated by sweat flying and people who are loud, powerful, and who don’t fit some standard issue notion of sleek “normal…”

You got a lot more to worry about in life than us.


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