I interrupt the usual Paleo blogging for this weeks episode of “Musings of a Gym Rat.”
This is yet another story that harkens back to my Bryn Mawr gym days. On a bi-weekly basis I was joined at the gym by a woman in her forties—let’s call her Janet. Janet was a pretty dedicated fitness walker and a very nice woman. She always said hello with a smile that was actually genuine (not a “Gosh, I wish I had the gym to myself, but I will try to be nice” grin).
Janet would usually walk for about 45 minutes. The problem was that Janet was a smoker—a big one. While I am a a super-duper non-smoker, I have nothing personal against smokers. It is their decision and there are many ways to kill yourself, be it a pack-a-day habit, or a Big-Mac-a-day addiction.
You might wonder, “Well how did you know Janet was a smoker?” Firstly, Janet’s usual pre-workout routine consisted of sitting outside the gym on the retro 70’s bench savoring her Marlboro Light. The problem with this was that when she stepped into the very small, and poorly circulated apartment gym, nicotene was literally oozing out of her pores.
Janet would step on the treadmill beside me, hike up the incline, grab the handle of the treadmill with both hands, and proceed to close her eyes while walking for the next 45 minutes—odd—but it takes all kinds. Meanwhile, I am trying to figure out how much second-hand smoke I am ingesting and how badly it is cancelling out all the goodness of my attempt at cardiovascular exercise. I literally felt my lungs being coated with tar (Yes, I am prone to hyperbole).
What made matters worse, is that occasionally, she would stop the treadmill at 40 minutes, and just when I think she is cutting out early, she would leave her bottle of water on the treadmill (This is the universal “Do Not Disturb MY Treadmill” sign for any non-gym goers out there). Janet would then step outside for a CIGARETTE BREAK. Five minutes later, Janet would re-enter, glance at me with a sheepish grin and utter: “Well, I guess that means I should do 30 extra minutes.” And back on her treadmill she would climb.
Faulty. Logic. Big. Time.
I am, of course, cursing and hacking (in a very PG sort of way...I am from the Bible belt, my friends). The potent smell of nicotene once again permeates my being and I was always left wondering: What is one to do? I am never one to discourage ANYONE for trying to get fit and active. However, what are you supposed to do when someone's decision is directly harming those around them?
So here is my question for you: Should I have said something? What would Emily Post advise? This woman was definitely approachable for Northeastern standards. Would you have spoken up?