Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What Does an Athlete's Body Look Like?

Awkward gym moment: I jump into a seemingly generic Body Sculpt class the other day at my club. I take a cue from the other participants and grab a bevy of gear (a step, 1 pair of 3 lb dumbbells, a body bar and a mat) that I figure we're using in the class. I follow the teacher's regimen (dead lifts, push-ups, squats, bicep curls, etc.) to a T, yet it seems like he's paying extra attention to me as if I'm doing the exercises wrong. He's fussing with my form, lifting an elbow or pressing on my deltoids.

So I try harder and man, I start to sweat. Next to up the cardio, he directs us all to leave the studio, run down and back up the 4 flights of stairs to the room.  And it's upon my return that he confronts me at the doorway with a heavier body bar and says, "Unless you're wearing hot-pink underwear, you should be using a heavier one." What I want to say is: "I tend to develop muscles easily so I think lighter weights and more repetitions make me leaner than the heavier weights. And wha... about my panties?" But when a 6'4" teacher is talking about mine and pushing a pole in my face, I forget all of this. 

Afterwards, Instructor comes over to me and ask my name. Then he starts asking me how long I've gone to that gym. Then he asks what kind of workouts I do. It's all awkward, I admit, but also makes me curious. "I run and do Pilates most," I say. "But what does it look like I do?" "You look like you swim," says Instructor after a once-over. "Actually, you just look like an athlete."

Sexual harassment aside, this makes me smile. What does an athlete's body look like? Is it Kara Goucher's? Venus Williams? Or does an athletic female's physique also include J.Lo's? She recently finished a triathalon--something I haven't accomplished. Yet. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No amount of diet and exercise will convert a J-Lo body to Kara Goucher or vice versa.

Kara Goucher has nearly parallel femur bones, small hips and no waist, much like a man.

If J-Lo got down to the same low body fat level as Kara Goucher, with "six pack abs", she would still have her "hourglass" figure.

The running sport selects for the Kara Goucher type body, because the geometry makes for faster, more efficient running. It's the elite athletes that get the media coverage, and their bodies create the image of a given sport, leading people to believe that training for that sport alone creates those bodies.