So some lady interrupts me in the middle of my bench press. (People . . . for safety reasons you should always let a lifter rack their weight before you try talking to them!)
Lady: “Oh! You are so strong!” She says to me while she flexes her arms in front of her. I was in the middle of a set so couldn’t respond right then. She then apologizes for interrupting me and moves off to collect some dumbbells.
After I racked the bar the lady came back.
Lady: “You are so strong. Are you a hockey player?” She is once again flexing her arms low in front of her body and shrugging her shoulders.
Me: “Uh . . . ? No. That would require that I be able to skate.” (I also seriously hate team sports . . . soccer, football, basketball, hockey, etc. If you are my arch nemesis and want to make me suffer horribly before I die make me watch sports for an entire minute.)
Lady: Looking surprised . . . “You can’t skate?!”
Lady: “Oh”. She looked a bit confused. I am not sure why. I know we are in Canada, but I can’t be the only Canadian who can’t skate.
She ended up asking me for some help with completing the workout plan she had. She had only been attending the gym for two weeks, and didn’t remember what all the short forms of exercise names the trainers use on the form stood for. I helped her out as much as possible while hiding my desire to go find the trainer who thought it was ok to write one cookie cutter workout plan to hand it to all new gym members and smack that trainer silly. (Seriously, my gym has one free plan they hand to all new members. A trainer walks the new member through each exercise once and then they are on their own.)
Walking home I kept wondering why this lady had decided to ask if I played hockey and made ape gestures at me. I don’t wear or carry any sports paraphernalia. I don’t watch the sports playing silently on the gym television. All I could think of is she maybe thought I had the body type of a hockey player? Again I hate sports and don’t watch them or play any myself. The people I know who do play recreational hockey are all of very different body types (tall, short, thin, fat, medium etc.). I personally don’t have an image in my mind of what a typical female hockey player looks like.
So when I got home I told my partner about this conversation. He said well a lot of hockey players are the stockier sort (he also did a kind of low flexing gesture with his arms) . . . and then he kinda trailed off like he realized that he may be digging himself a coffin shaped hole and jumping in head first. (I mostly just found this funny. I let him squirm a little in silence. Don’t worry. He still breaths. He did not commit suicide by spouse.)
So . . . average height, fat, and muscular equals hockey player? WTF?
I have put a lot of work into body positivity, ditching diet-culture, and bad gym-culture. I am ok with being of average height. I am ok with being fat. I will never have a thin body. What I do have is a very strong body that responds wonderfully to my training efforts by building muscle for me and letting me lift more and more weight over time. I love that I am able to build muscle and get stronger. I love muscle. I have more muscle then ever before and it has come from working out less and eating more. The only thing the “eat less and exercise more” shitty diet advice did for me was make me miserably underfed and over exercised.
I am bothered by this conversation mostly because it seems to suggest the idea that if a female is strong or is training for strength . . . she must be doing it for some (socially acceptable) reason, such as sports. She can’t just pursue strength for the sake of building strength.