Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gym Bunny

Earlier in the year I realised I needed to start making some career decisions, as my final year at university was about to begin. I stumbled across the RAF in the summer, and after much thought and discussion with friends and family, I decided I couldn't think of anything I'd like to do more. The only slight hitch in this plan would be me not having run since I was 18. So let the training commence.

Having joined a private gym near to my uni halls, I've gotten really into it, but one thing I can't help noticing when clocking the minutes on the treadmill is the fashion angle on the various "tribes" that exist in a gym.

So first off we have the Muscle Man Tribe:

Usually aged between 18 and 30, these guys are all about weights and lifting. They often train in groups of three or four and can be quite intimidating to those not built like tanks. They are for the most part friendly enough though. The uniform of the MM's is simple, practical and consists of a vest(out of which pecs and shoulders are usually bursting) and full length jersey track bottoms, and fashion trainers.

Next up Gym Bunny Mummy's:

Women spotted grabbing gym time post or pre-school run, perhaps whilst their kids are having a swimming lesson. The Gym Bunny Mummy's are usually found dominating the treadmills on crazy cardio workouts or doing scary abs exercises. They're easy to spot as they're usually wearing tight black lycra with flashes of colour and state of the art trainers. Their hair still looks as if it's just been styled when they're done with their cardio regime, and they're changing room conversation is either dominated by the triumphs of their offspring that week or whether Nike or Reebok are producing the best in gym wear.

Followed by Serious Sports Tribe:

A mix of men and women usually aged between 20 and 30 and serious about the sports they play, the gym is where they come to do more targeted training. The Serious Sports Tribe are also easy to spot- just look for the team or tour t-shirts, usually printed with their names, nicknames or with the tour date and location. Unlike the Gym Bunny Mummy's these guys don't really care how they look when they're training. It's all about the targets and being comfortable.

And last but by no means least the Youth Tribe:

The Youth Tribe are often 15-18 and still at school, sometimes university students. They are the ones you see entering the changing rooms ahead of you in groups of five or six giggling and insulting each other. The can be spotted once in the gym as the ones wearing leggings and a top that most of us wouldn't want to sweat in. The Youth tribe are also often wearing scarily inappropriate if fashionable footwear. The rarely stay long, the idea of sweating through their make-up is quite frightening for them.

Aside the tribes, I find there are also the rest of us. We're outnumbered by everybody else and very forgettable. Personally I favour a gym uniform of proper trainers so I don't break an ankle- I'd never hear the end of it from my mother, comfy knee length jersey track bottoms and any of a number of vest tops I don't wear anymore because they're so faded and bobbled but are fine to pull on to run in.

When I was punishing myself on the treadmill earlier I found it rather amusing to have a look around at the various people in the gym. Even though I'm a self confessed fashion junkie, and the fashion junkie bit of my brain can't help but observe, the gym is one place I find it quite strange to dress to impress. Most of us go to a gym and train for a reason, whether you're playing sports to a high level or like me are training for a purpose, we go to work hard, sweat like hell and move lots, and I can think of nothing worse than either wearing clothes I love to sweat it out in or lacking freedom of movement to give my training everything I have.

Even with the likes of Stella McCartney working with Adidas and some of Nike's more fashion focused work out wear, I can't bring myself to part with £20-£30+ for something I will have to wash so frequently that it will probably start to fall apart or shrink quite quickly and something that does exactly the same thing as the £9.99 plain grey track bottoms I bought in a sale or the £6 Topshop vests that are already faded, slightly shorter than they once were and best of all- almost free. If they weren't being used for the gym, I would already have binned them! Even my much loved trainers were a bit of a bargain. Admittedly, they're the one thing I always spend a bit more on, and make sure they're designed for sports so I get proper support for my already slightly dodgy ankle and knees, but these ones were about half the cost of most because they're from the children's section. I'm a size five, but it would appear that Nike make children's trainers up to a size five, so they were not only cheaper, but there was no VAT to pay on them either. I've been smug about them ever since!

So is it just me being a stingy student and lagging behind on a new way of bringing fashion to my life? Or is there anybody else who looks around the gym wondering about work out gear? Any recommendations for life changing gym kit?
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