How to Cure Dysfunctional Gym Syndrome

I’m an 80’s kid.  I watched Olivia Newton John strut across my giant tube television screen as she “got physical” and I’ll never forget Jennifer Bealls’ sexy leotard as she danced bare bottomed in Flashdance.  What a feeling it must have been to wear a sweatshirt so loose a boob slip was inevitable or a leotard so tight a camel toe adjustment was needed every take. 

80’s workout gear revealed more than just rib cages and pelvic bones. Even Disney’s Mousercise featured the trainer wearing belts and suspenders to compliment her thigh high, neon leotard.  It’s no wonder “Great Shape Barbie” wearing heels and leg warmers or Richard Simmons’ short shorts and sequined tank tops are still popular Halloween costumes two decades later, but can you imagine actually working out in those clothes?

I blame the 80’s for my dysfunctional gym behavior.  While I didn’t show up in leotards and pumps, I did view the gym as a place to be seen.  I walked in with full make-up, beautifully groomed (and tanned) legs and underarms, and the best workout clothes a teacher salary could buy.  If the clothes were dirty or the legs weren’t shaved, that was reason enough to skip the gym.  When it was time to hop on the treadmill I made sure my ponytail swayed as I walked as fast as I could, without running, and as soon as I started to sweat, I hopped off.  

If you’re thinking I’m superficial you’ve never been to LA Fitness at 6pm.  Some girls my age wouldn’t even be seen in a ponytail; They look like they just came from the salon, their perfectly formed tresses flowing down their back as they lifted 10lbs in front of a mirror.  Maybe they suffered from the same 80’s syndrome I did because they weren’t concerned that their hair would stick to their sweaty back and look like a hot mess by the time their workout was complete… BECAUSE THEY WEREN’T THERE TO ACTUALLY SWEAT!

Fast forward to 2010 where female fitness icons showed women that muscle is sexy and how hard work (aka sweat) is necessary to getting a toned body.  Soft curves have been replaced with athletic ripples and recognized as the new sexy, but it takes hard work to get that type of muscle definition.  Women seeking the new sexy have to be ready to sweat so much that shapes form in places that would have made Mickey Mouse and his Mousercise crew blush.

Recently, one of my class instructors wore a pair of gray capris.  About 30 minutes into a 50 minute kickboxing class, a wet spot started to seep through her pants.  She saw it, shrugged and kept kicking ass.  She wore her vagina sweat like a badge of honor.  It made me think, had Olivia Newton John ever sprung a leak in her leotard?  

A few months ago, I was doing crossfit.  On a particularly tough WOD, I turned to look at myself in the mirror and noticed everything was drenched, except two circles around my boobs.  I had worn a regular bra in my rush to class and it showed through to the entire gym.  10 years ago, I would have been mortified, and I have to admit that a tinge of embarrassment did surge through my body.  Then, I had an epiphany, “who cares?”  That goddess looking back at me was a red faced, pineapple headed, armpit stubble, sexy beast who had just pushed her body to its limits for 60 minutes straight.  That boob sweat rockin’ bitch was the sexiest thing I had ever seen.  Doctor, I was cured!

My 80’s syndrome was treated by some amazing female trainers that didn’t let me stop because I was too tired or concerned about what I looked like in the depths of my workout.  They showed me that true confidence and strength comes from within.  

It was also cured by my beast of a husband who stinks up the gym at 5 am every morning and our resolve to eat clean, healthy foods.  They’ve all shown me that it’s not about the image that you put out in the gym, it’s about being healthier and actually becoming stronger.  

My mantra to my 80’s self:  Vagina’s sweat, armpit hair grows, make-up melts, hair gets tangled, and if it doesn’t, you’re just not working hard enough!


17 thoughts on “How to Cure Dysfunctional Gym Syndrome

  1. Annie says:

    Ah love this! I still have some insecurities at the gym but not as bad as they used to be. Mostly mine are around if I’m doing exercises right, are people judging my weights, etc but I love that women working out is so in! I love being strong and healthy and supporting other women who are or are on their way!

  2. Debby says:

    This post is all too real to anyone who has been to the gym to see people who look fantastic who are their to show how fantastic they look. I love the women who now go to actually work out and sweat so they can look good in their clothes later!

  3. Dilraz Kunnummal says:

    I love your mantra!
    Btw it isn’t just sn 80s thing. Millenials too. Some days i look around at the gym and want to roll my eyes till i go blind..from the fancy gym wear and make up! I don’t know how they do it but hey atleast they have more patience than i do!

  4. Kayla O'Neill says:

    I love this!! I am an 80’s kid too and have many of the same memories! My mother did “Gilad” workouts with soup cans at home…and then she would threaten that he would come babysit if we were naughty!! haha!!

  5. Jamie @ madrediem says:

    Hahaha I love this! I used to be so concerned with how I looked that i would put a little makeup on and try to smell good while at the gym, but in the past 5 years I’ve embraced my disgusting, sweaty, stinky self and my workouts have never been better!

  6. Laura @littlebitoflearning says:

    You go girl! Work it! I am not an exercisier maybe one day I will be, but for now I will do my in home productive work outs. Which is what I call cleaning the house! Ha! Anyways this was a great read and I loved the humor and hard earned sweat stains!

  7. Sarah Frank says:

    This is too funny and accurate! I used to be the same exact way… Gotta have all the cute gym clothes. Now, if I can get away to go to the gym I’ll go in anything! Sweats and a dirty tshirt 🙂

  8. Madelynn says:

    This is awesome! I think too many women forget that the gym is not a place for us to compete with each other about our eyeliner and our sequined lularoes! I definitely suffer from 80’s syndrome on occasion, and I love that you’ve finally given it a name! Keep rocking it, girl!

  9. Kassi says:

    My goodness do I love this! I learned to really relish in the sweat when I first joined Roller Derby just over 7 years ago. When I first started I was so set on making sure that I looked somewhat cute while I attempted to learn this totally badass sport. 7 years later all I care about is performance and working hard!

  10. Tina says:

    Ah,yes, growing up in the 80s led to gym memberships in the 90s that were really just about making sure you were on equipment next to somebody fatter than you while you waited for your turn in the tanning bed. Luckily gyms have gotten more serious. Vagina sweat and all.

  11. Ashlea says:

    I always put eyeliner on no matter where I go. That is about the only thing though besides that a pair of basketball shorts and tank good for me.

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