I had my first session with Pushy McTrainerson the other day. It was basically an assessment of my fitness level - how many push-ups can you do (25), can you reach your toes (no), how many sit-ups can you do in a minute (28), what's your exercisey heart rate (high enough to make him ask if I'd just drank coffee), height (175cms) and weight (61kgs), and a bunch of questions about goals.
I told him my long term goal was to get fit enough to run a whole game of basketball, and my immediate goal was to exercise enough so I could wear a bikini at the beach this summer.
When I mentioned this second one he asked "What's stopping you?" And I told him nothing is stopping me. I would go to the beach and wear a bikini and have an awesome time looking exactly like I do. Would I have a better time after I've been going to the gym for a few weeks, slathered on some fake tan, and gotten a bikini wax? I don't know.
He asked me if I thought I was doing it more for other people or myself. I told him I didn't know. Society imposes these values on everyone, but I wouldn't do it if I didn't want to, or if it didn't give me at least a small amount of pleasure. I know that I sleep better and probably eat better when I'm getting regular exercise. I rarely feel truly bad about the way I look, but I suppose since the gym is meant to keep me getting to where I don't feel good, it's making me feel better about myself. (Except for where I hate how I am one of those people who go to gyms and talk about their workouts and their personal trainers!)
I thought that was an interesting question, but I'm still not sure what use he would put the answer to. Is someone with major body image issues going to be turned away? Encouraged? Helped? Are we ever truly doing things entirely for ourselves, or entirely because of other people's expectations? And if I am happy to wear a bikini right now, what am I doing at the gym, and how do I know when I can stop?
And why am I posing all these questions on a weekend, when we should, by definition, be relaxing and not thinking?