My first day at the gym.

I felt like Bridgette Jones amidst supermodels.

Standing on the treadmill for the first time ever in my life, I was listening to the instructor droning on about the virtues of the machine and how to use it effectively.

There was a row of treadmills, against a wall covered with a mirror along its entire length and height.

There I was, dressed in a hand-me-down sweatshirt and tracks from my husband, and a pair of shoes so old, I can’t even remember when I’d bought it.

To my right was a pencil thin twenty-something, wearing a bright pink tracks which stopped just below her knees, revealing legs with the shapeliest of calf muscles. A short, clinging T-shirt suggested a flat stomach and a curvaceous waist. Ears plugged to a portable MP3, she was swaying to her own rhythm while plodding on gracefully.

The woman on my left was no less perfect. Dressed in a smoky grey gym outfit which boasted a sporty label, she was jogging with intense concentration.

“Now I’m going to turn it on, okay?” the instructor’s voice broke into my surreptious sizing up.

And before I could react, the earth below my feet moved! Struggling for balance, I tried to grab something to regain my balance, if not my dignity! Thankfully my flailing arms were caught deftly by the instructor, before I fell. He also miraculously paused the machine at the same time.

“M’am, concentrate” he said with a tone reserved for an errant school kid. “Look straight ahead and keep walking”.

I did just that, but strangely I seemed to be moving backwards, inching towards the edge of the treadmill. Again he paused the machine. “Ma’m, please come forward and try to stay in the same place”, he said, a little too pleasantly.

Finally after a few minutes, I got the hang of it. But I had to look at my fuddy-duddy shoes all the time, because the minute I looked up, I found myself inching backwards again!

It seemed like I was at it for hours, but it was hardly five minutes. I had another fifteen minutes to kill. After a while my mind got restless. Risking a fall, I sneaked a peek at the mirror. The smoky grey had vanished. In her place was a brooding bearded man, lost in the problems of his life.

The pink was still jogging. She looked like a college kid, but had a practiced air of elegance around her. To relive my boredom, I started making up her story. She was in college. Majoring in literature, I decided. And modeled in her free time. Coming to think of it, she did seem familiar. Maybe she was the one who featured in that shampoo ad. Or was it soap?

That was my last thought on my head when my backside hit the floor with a thud.

You see, I was so lost in making up the story, I hadn’t realized I was doing a moonwalk till I fell off the damned treadmill!

The instructor helped me off my feet, but the others kept at whatever they were doing, without a pause. Like it happened everyday. Had it happened to anyone else, I’d have laughed my head off. But they were just like robots on their treadmills and cycles. Maybe later, they’ll lock themselves in the restroom and laugh hysterically, I thought.

Anyway, that was over a month ago. Today, I sauntered in with my new gym gear, stepped on a treadmill, worked on the controls and was swaying to my own rhythm from my very own MP3. (‘Borrowed’ from husband while he was not looking & only I knew the song was perhaps the oldest in time, made when the instructor was in his nappies)

As I plodded on, I felt a strange contentment. Maybe I am not a pencil thin supermodel. But at least I’m not that overweight woman to my right who’s sweating so profusely after only 5 minutes on the treadmill, that my heart went out to her.

Maybe I haven’t mastered all the machines here and I don’t sprout the greatness of gymming to everyone, but I do feel more energetic these days, ready to face the day’s challenges.

Man, I’ve arrived.


PS: This was written three years ago, when the iPod shuffle was not so popular! I still gym once in a while…



  1. maami said,

    July 4, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    I’m the overweight woman profusely perspiring on the treadmill.Cheers!

    I don’t think so! 🙂

  2. Rada said,

    July 4, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    And I was that bearded man, lost in the problems of his life! 🙂

    Nice funny post!

    Thank you!

  3. Shanti said,

    July 8, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Oops! sorry I laughed my heart out imagining that falling scene.. 🙂

    🙂 Glad to have tickled u!

  4. Rohini said,

    July 11, 2008 at 12:49 am

    I guess then I get to be the 20 something in the pink tracks, oh come on paddy!!! let me at least have that. Wish I had been there for the great fall.

    Hahahahha!! Now I’m on the floor, laughing!!! Sari, pozhachi po!

  5. davematt said,

    July 14, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Hi Padma,

    Hilarious post 🙂

    DM (


  6. tal said,

    July 15, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Hi, what a funny post. I’m going to the gym for the first time today and have been trying to find excuses not to go but hearing you talk about the new you has made me want to be the new me too. Well i’m not going during peak time as that would be just too embarrassing, instead i’ll be there at 10am when everyone is at work and should be done in an hour. I do have old trainers and will be in tights (seemed like a good idea at the time) and a long t shirt. Will post again when i survive my first week at least and let you know hoe it went. Good luck to all the other newbies out there for fighting the flab and staying healthy.

  7. tal said,

    July 16, 2008 at 5:38 am

    Hi again, have been to the gym and am so pleased with myself. I worked out in tights and as is always typical ~ the only free machine was right in the middle of the room. I was anxious and a bit intimidated but i managed to stay on the treadmill for a whole hour and 6 minutes. Will definitely be keeping it up and btw in my last post i meant ‘how it went’.

    Hi! Welcome to good health! A word of advice.. (I’m just passing on the advice given to me by my better half when I started!) Make it as regular as bathing, eating and sleeping… You have a lot to gain.. I ignored it after a while. I didn’t go to the gym for almost a year & all I gained was 6 extra kilos!! Your weight comes back double once you stop!!!! 🙂

  8. buddy said,

    July 18, 2008 at 3:55 am

    humourous writing

  9. lakshmi said,

    July 18, 2008 at 8:47 am

    glad you enjoy it. treadmill is on and off for me- get bored.. I started doing weights and other machines in the room also -for a few days.. then some crisis hits and it’s hard to get back on. used to enjoy step aerobics also. bad one to give you advice. just gained 20lbs in the last 6mo. -thanks to late nights on the computer and stress.

    Actually, gym is chore to me!! Just the fear of putting on weight if I stop is driving me!! 🙂

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