“Pain is just another sensation,” Katrina Kaif said in one of her Jagga Jasoos promotional interviews, which was otherwise cringe-worthy because Mr. Ranbir I-don’t-know-what-mainsplaining-is Kapoor refused to shut his trap. I had always admired Katrina for her chiselled abs, her toned legs and her ability to do push-ups with the support of just one of her sinewy arms. While I struggled to manage such a feat with both my jiggly limbs shaking and crumbling like Oreo biscuits, and my knees getting bruised in return.
After a seven-month stint two years ago, I have again joined the gym with a vengeance. My previous track record had been two and five days respectively. I took a one-year membership in 2017 (because ekbaar jo maine commitment kardi etc… ) and paid the entire amount upfront because one day, just one day, I want to have enough core strength to be able to achieve a headstand like Alia Bhatt. You need not tell me that my motivations are misguided, I already know that.
I have a problematic history with fitness. I was underweight and skinny all through my childhood because of which I could fit any outfit I wanted. The way I saw it, if I could rock the pink dress better than the mannequin at the display, I didn’t have to participate at the sports competition which happened every two years at my school.
Then puberty came and with it came my C-cups. There was a sudden spurt of tummy, as a result of stress eating before my board exams. While my fragile ankles and wrists betray my slim past, this round tummy jolts me back to reality. Popular media and its representation of women with their carved-from-marble abs and flat-as-a-pancake stomachs, assures me that I have no business at even looking at a crop top.
Over the past year, I have been frequenting the gym for at least three to four days a week. It is not remotely validating to keep struggling while lifting a total of five kg weights while the men around me deadlift about twice my own body weight. Grunting, as sweat drips from their hairy bodies and forms puddles on the floor, also leaving a formidable patch on the back of the cycling machines.
What I lack in my vehement disinterest in weight training, I more than make up with my love of running on the treadmill. With Imagine Dragons’s It’s Time playing in the background, I enter an almost meditative state where my mind (which is used to staring at a laptop screen for at least half a day) rests, while the body is put to work. Someone like me, who doesn’t even sweat in peak summer months, is transformed into a panting, heaving mess, feeling the weight of the sweat soaking through the edges of her sports bra.
With time, it has become a habit. I work, I work out. It is not even about losing weight or looking a certain way anymore. I want to feel as strong as I could possibly be. So I pick up those 2.5 kg dumbbells (they are the lightest ones in my gym) and keep on with them tricep dips till death do us part. I hold my plank for half-a-minute and as my arms shake in denial, pushing harder and harder feels like it is the only way to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Pain is just another sensation. You go on till the sweat of your forehead clouds your vision, you run as if your life depended on it.
And what the heck, while at it, you should bloody well wear that crop top too.