Back in February, I joined an all-women's gym in Somerville, hoping I might finally have found an empowering, feminist fitness environment oriented toward staying healthy and strong without encouraging obsessions about weight loss.
My third week as a member, I came across a flyer in the bathroom for an upcoming class. Here is what it said:
Complimentary Group, 2/28 at 10am
Come to this Bootcamp designed to get you and your bridesmaids ready for that wedding! Initial and final assessments will be taken to help you track your achievements. Come relieve some stress, laugh, and enjoy working out with some new brides-to-be!!
I was horrified. Being confronted with the notion that a woman is not "ready" for her wedding day unless she is thin made me want to bash someone over the head with a treadmill. It also gets me that (of course) this would be a featured class at a gym designed for women. You can bet your buns they aren't advertising classes like this aimed at men at Gold's Gym. This "women's gym" was clearly about as feminist in its worldview as "women's magazines" are. Which is to say, NOT.
Rather than wailing in despair at the state of our culture and launching myself out the window, I opted for something more constructive: I forwarded the class listing to my roommate and her boyfriend and we held a contest to see who could come up with the best parody text. Our results (reprinted with permission) are here: