Breaking a Sweat

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For some unknown reason the gym bug bit me. I don’t know what it was.

It certainly wasn’t the numerous images of fitness models that covered the walls of my gym. While I never had the body of a supermodel, I was one of those lucky girls that gained fat in the “right places”. Still I enjoyed the changes that took place in my body and the fact that I could buy jeans a size smaller. There was no denying the fact that my booty and tits were looking perkier than ever.

There was also something about the burn, the sensation of pushing my body to its limits that kept me returning. Perhaps there was a tinge of masochism in me. The gym wasn’t there to provide a background setting for an Instagram/activewear photo shoot: I was there to strain my body.

But as to what got me going there in the first place? No idea. I only knew I was on the roll and kept coming back.

My gym was just a bicycle ride away, down in the industrial area of the town. It was one open hall that was divided into different areas of cardio, weights, functional and the more traditional gym machinery. Perhaps due to the lack of Zumba classes and the like, the gym’s main demographic was a 30-year-old bodybuilding male. This kind dominated the weights area. The only ones using the normal gym equipment were the few women who frequented the gym and some middle-aged men, who had apparently decided to catch up on their new year’s resolutions. This was also my playground.

After I had switched into a tiny aquamarine strap top and the new black yoga pants that enhanced my curves, I hit the treadmill, deviously aware of how good I was looking. I would always pick the one in the corner of the back row. There was something comforting about always using the same treadmill: the knowledge of how much pressure it was required to push the buttons, the vibrations and sounds of the machine. I knew it like the back of my hand. While listening to my soundtrack of Alt Rock, I’d begin at 7,5 mph and speed up steadily for the next ten minutes until I’d reach the velocity of 10 mph.

Needless to say the treadmills were the most popular equipment for cardio, and during a busy hour, they would always all be occupied. On that day, in the early afternoon, the place was still practically empty. Two older men, friends apparently, were making a brisk walk in the opposite corner.

We were soon joined by a young guy of my age. I probably wouldn’t have noticed hadn’t he picked the treadmill right in front of me. Perhaps the traffic light red shorts that he was sporting were to blame as well.

He wasn’t much taller than I was, making him a fairly short man of 5ft 5. But despite all this he didn’t come off as tiny. Underneath his dirt grey t-shirt I could recognize the definitions of large muscles that added to the broadness of his shoulders. His legs were equally as muscular. He just looked heavy, as if his diet consisted of whey protein and nothing else. Something about his entire physique reminded me of a bullterrier: his strength was likely to be impressive but curiously non-threatening. Maybe it was his blonde hair and his relaxed stride that made me think of him as a good momma’s boy at heart.

He began to jog at a good pace in front of me, faster than I expected considering his stocky frame. With a long determined stride, the soles of his shoes beat against the belt moving beneath his feet. Although he hunched his back awkwardly as he ran, his running technique was perfectly in check. The enormous calf muscles bulged as if they were about to burst.

For some reason, he amused me. I imagined we were racing, that I was trying to close the distance between us and outrun him. Playfully, I increased the speed on my treadmill.

While I was throwing more fuel into the fire, he was likely to be completely oblivious to my secret game. He kept his steady pace, his eyes on the invisible road in front of him. With a mischievous smile on my face, I was gaining up on him inside my head, no longer paying attention to the timer that was only six minutes into my routine.

To my disappointment, he was done with his warm-up sooner than I had anticipated, and the conveyor belt stopped to a halt. The smile vanished off my face. I was racing, sweat slowly dripping down the back of my neck, while he had barely broken the sweat. I felt like he was slacking off, even if he still had an entire workout ahead of him. But so did I.

As he turned to step off the treadmill, I was finally able to have a good look at his face. His nose was bigger and rounder than would traditionally be considered attractive. Despite this I considered him rather handsome. The eyes were bright and pale in colouring with soft wrinkles framing them. Although he wasn’t smiling, he appeared to be generally well disposed to anything and everything. I even felt a tinge of jealousy for his seemingly favourable outlook on life, for it was something a pessimist like me could never comprehend. Usually I disliked such people, thinking about their simplicity, but his face betrayed no sign of naiveté.

So what, Kocaeli Escort I thought, and turned my gaze back to the monitor of my treadmill that promised another two minutes of torture. I was running at 11 mph and there was no chance I’d be slowing down now, no matter how intense the side stitch. In the corner of my eye, I saw his figure disappear into the weights area.

With some struggle I managed to finish my warm-up routine. I felt slightly dizzy as I went to pick up the disinfectant swipes and proceeded to clean my treadmill. My face probably looked as red and puffy as a tomato, not that I truly cared anymore.

My workout plan was aptly named “body torture”. First I’d work on my legs. I was always bottom heavy with my wide hips, so I always felt inclined to begin with my largest muscles. I would squat, kick and do whatever was necessary to tone the jiggly fat on my thighs. My back would be towards the weights area. Despite it, I would take any excuse to adjust the equipment and inform myself of the exact location of the guy from the treadmills. I would tell myself that the seat really was too low but I could never lie to myself convincingly. I was interested in him.

I would move from machine to another but my eyes would always scan for him. It no longer mattered which machine I was using, as long as there was an unobstructed view to this good-natured stranger.

I couldn’t justify my fascination for him. Perhaps I was just bored and having a small crush would add some spice to my otherwise repetitive gym routine. He seemed safe, harmless.

His program seemed to be over more quickly than mine was. I have had the bad habit of slowly adding more and more exercises to my plan until my gym visits extended the length of two hours. While I was halfway through my program, I saw him exit the male changing rooms in a rather dorky looking tracksuit and leaving the place. I sighed and went on working my triceps.

– – –

A few days later our paths crossed again. I was working the leg press as I saw him enter the gym, wearing that same tracksuit as last time. He stopped cheerily to greet some slightly overweight guy on the bicycle. It seemed they were well acquainted but it was too far away for me to be able to eavesdrop on their conversation. A moment later he rushed for the changing rooms and reappeared in his familiar red shorts and the grey tee. In lack of a better name, I nicknamed him Red Shorts in my head.

I watched him begin his workout like last time, with a brief run on the treadmill, but this time from a different angle. He appeared to sweat in a very attractive way: enough to see he was pushing his body but not enough to disgust you. His eyes were fixed on the timer as if he was waiting for the torture to end. I couldn’t help but smile a little, realizing that he wasn’t just slacking off. It motivated me to push harder as well, to do my repeats even slower until my thighs were on fire.

As I finished my repeats, I was compelled to move to the other corner of the hall. After all, I did have my program to finish. However, I was desperate to have him notice me. I was wearing those same sport leggings as before, this time with a bright red top. I tried to make my short body look long as I graciously walked past him. I was praying to God I didn’t look comical in my attempt to be attractive.

When I got to the hand weights I glanced back to see if his eyes were still glued to the display and to my dismay they were. I sighed. Why do guys never take notice when you want them to?

When I left the changing rooms, I scanned the area but failed to see him. I figured he’s probably just deep in the weights area, beyond the periphery of my vision.

– – –

It was drizzling as I stepped outside in my dark blue mid-season jacket and my sports bag. The sky was already turning from dark grey into a shade of black and the little light that there was reflected off the raindrops tapping against the cars in the parking lot.

I walk up to my miserable looking bicycle, its saddle soaked from the rain. It often rained in this valley so I had grown accustomed to the unpredictable weather. Soon enough I’d be home having a hot shower, washing the cold and the sweat off my skin.

I tried turning the key in the lock but it wouldn’t turn. After I had made sure that it was the correct key that I was holding, I realised it may have rained inside the keyhole and it was just slightly jammed. I tried applying more force, careful not to break the key inside the lock.

“Fuck!” I cried as the lock still wasn’t budging after several attempts. It was getting cold and I wanted to get out of the rain. I could walk home, I thought. But, come morning, my bicycle might not be here anymore.

“Need some help with that?” A male voice sounded from a short distance away.

I looked to my side to see the form of a guy hovering over his bicycle. From underneath my hood I could see that he was looking at me and I assumed it was he who had spoken.

“The lock won’t open,” I explained to the silhouette Kocaeli Escort Bayan in a hoodie and slacks.

He left his bicycle standing at the other side of the gym entrance and walked up to me. As he came nearer, light hit his face. My heart skipped a beat as I realized this stranger was Red Shorts, the guy that I had been studying during my last couple of workouts. His hair was wet and curled up under his hood, his eyes solemn but kind as he approached me.

“May I?” he asked politely.

I stood up to give him space. He began fiddling with the lock, wiggling the key inside the hole.

“You should have this lubricated,” he told me.

“Yeah, I know,” I answered, embarrassed.

His back was exposed to the rain and I could see raindrops paint the fabric into a darker shade of blue. I was afraid that he was just wasting his time and would finally give up in frustration.

However, after a short while he rose up and handed me my now unlocked bicycle lock.

“There you go,” he said looking at me. For a brief second I could see his irises move up and down my body as if this was the first time that he’d noticed me.

“Thank you,” I said with a friendly ring, hoping that my embarrassment wasn’t too obvious.

“No problem,” he said, his grey eyes piercing into mine, a slight smile on his face.

It seemed we had ran out of obvious things to say. There was a second of awkward silence before he spoke again.

“Well I…”

“Yeah, should probably get out of the rain,” I suggested, as I turned to take my bicycle. While he did make my heart flutter as he watched me, our directionless conversation was making me uncomfortable. “I guess I’ll see you around?” I added hopefully.

“Yeah,” he replied, turning to go back to his bicycle but lingering as if he was hesitant to leave. “Have a safe ride home,” he finally added.

“Thanks, you too. And thanks for the help!”

I rode off hastily. The sooner I was out of the parking lot, the better.

For some reason I felt frustrated. That was not how I had wanted my first official encounter with him to be like. I didn’t want to be the damsel, and if he hadn’t intervened I would’ve probably managed to open the lock on my own. It was not like his strategy had drastically differed from mine.

I sighed. It was too late to do anything about that now. It would be better if I just hurried home, had a shower and forgot this exchange ever happened.

– – –

I had been studying in the library late that night so I thought sleep would come easy. But it didn’t. Having scrolled all through Netflix and still having found nothing worthwhile, I decided to do a late night workout. The night sky was clear and the gym was 24 h open anyways, something that I might want to take advantage of every once in a while.

When I got to the gym I was stunned at its emptiness. Not one person was there as the staff had already finished cleaning up the place. Even the music and the tvs had been turned off, not that it bothered me much.

After I had changed in the equally desolate changing rooms, I hit the treadmill. It was such a languid night that I replaced my usual playlist with the xx’s newest album. I felt like taking it slow tonight.

As I got warmer, I decided to ditch my shirt. No one was there to watch anyways. Somehow the baseline and the vibrations of the machine were comforting, lulling me into a sleep-like trance. A small smile formed on my lips, as I somehow felt just right. There were no distractions, no white noise: just the music, my body and the empty space around me.

However as I felt like having a sip of my water I realized that I had forgotten the bottle in the locker room. I paused my program and ran upstairs to fetch and fill my bottle, the earphones still in place.

It wasn’t until I was speedily running back down the stairs that I noticed that something was odd. There was a regular thud sound that didn’t belong to that song. I hastily took off my earphones and realized the sound was still there. Someone was there, at the treadmills, jogging.

Cautiously, I entered into the view of the treadmills. As I saw the familiar red shorts my heart jumped into my throat; it was him, my locksmith.

And not just that: he was on my treadmill. A weird mix of confusion and anger boiled inside me. Didn’t he notice the paused program? Or the towel hanging from the rail? Not even the small flower-patterned notebook placed in the pocket beneath the display?

No, I decided. There had been no mistake. He had chosen that treadmill despite it all. But why?

Slowly I walked up to him. He was wearing headphones and his eyes were glued to the display but I knew he was aware of my presence. He just jogged on, his shirt slowly dampening with sweat. I stopped to stand in front of him, my arms crossed.


His grey eyes rose off the display and a delighted smile appeared on his lips. He hastily took off the headphones and slowed down the machine to a walk.

“Hey!” he greeted me, too Escort Kocaeli joyfully for the pretense to be obvious.

“You are on my treadmill,” I told him, my voice flat and no sign of amusement on my face.

His face grew solemn as he detected my annoyance. “Your treadmill?”

“Yes. My treadmill.”

“Oh,” he said, apparently regretfully, eyeing at my items as if he was seeing them for the first time. “I’m terribly sorry about that.”

“My program was on pause.”

“Right, right…”

He stopped the machine but for some reason remained standing on the treadmill. “That explains a few things,” he added.

“Yes, so could you please…”

“Like why it was set on slow mode.”

My eyes flashed back at his. “What did you say?”

“Yeah, the program… it’s really easy,” he breathed out heavily, “Not really challenging, is it?”

Was this guy kidding me?

“It’s called endurance running,” I told him, carefully enunciating each word. “Maybe you’ve heard of it.”

“Oh, like speed walking?”

A most charming grin appeared on his face. I felt inclined to punch it.

“Just get off the fucking machine,” I hissed.


He stepped into machine next to me, a wide smile on his face.

“You think you’re really funny, don’t you?” I growled, rolling my eyes as I stepped on the treadmill. He had changed my settings. I would have to begin my program from scratch.

“Why, I do think so,” he smiled as he turned on the treadmill to a decent jog.

I just shook my head, determined to ignore him. God could he be annoying. How come had I never noticed that before?

“By the way,” he added, his breathing already heavy, “Nice bra.”

It was only then that I realized that I was only in my marine blue sports bra, my nipples peeking through the fabric. I blushed. It was too late to cover myself now. I sped up to match his pace, finding energy in my anger.

I saw him give me an eye but I kept mine at front as to not to provoke any further conversation. I preferred him quiet. And somehow I rather liked him jogging beside me, giving regular glances at my trained body.

I threw him a glance every once in a while as well. He looked oddly comfortable for someone who didn’t exactly have the shape of a runner. He just looked so heavy. Yet it seemed like a weight he had grown used to carrying, his own and much more. The way he held his arms steadily on his sides gave me lustful thoughts of being lifted by them against a wall.

After a while, he turned up the tempo. I immediately matched it. He looked at me running next to him and an involuntary smile appeared on my lips. I placed my hand on button for increase, a cheeky smile on my face. The belt underneath my soles moved faster, forcing me to take longer strides. The blood was rushing through my veins, bringing the red on my cheeks. The burn in my muscles felt amazing.

“Well, if that’s the way it’s going to be…” he said, shrugging his head disapprovingly before turning up the speed.

We raced against each other at our own paces. He was able to take longer strides while I was able to move my feet more quickly, making it difficult to say which one of us was actually going faster. Still, every time I sped up, he did too, and vice versa. Pearls of sweat were running down my temples and I was struggling to keep my breathing steady. His hair was already wet, his hair curling up from moisture. His entire body was tense from exhaustion. Despite the sweat, I found his strained body incredibly attractive.

It felt like we had been running for an hour but my timer was showing that we had begun our game only twenty minutes ago. Slowing down wasn’t an option; it felt like accepting a defeat.

In the end it was he who gave in. He simply jumped off the belt, his feet landing on either side. He pressed the stop-button on the display, causing the belt to a slow down to a halt. I followed his suit.

“So that’s how you tick,” he breathed out, as I leaned against the bar, gasping for air.

“What?” I wasn’t even sure I heard him correctly over my own breathing.

His lips curved into a devilish smile. “You love giving me a hard time.”

I was compelled to chuckle. This guy was learning fast. My body was aching. I was afraid to let go off the bar, thinking I’d pass out there.

“What’s your name anyway?” he asked me, his head drooping between his arms.

“Jen,” I sighed, “My name’s Jen.”

“I’m Colin.” He laughed wryly at himself. “I was about to say it’s a pleasure to meet you but so far it’s been agony.”

I laughed as I stepped off the treadmill and walked in front of his. “Maybe we can do something about that.”

“I truly hope so.”

He looked at me with his silvery eyes without blinking. There was a degree of earnestness in his voice that made me want to shiver.

“I…” I began to say, unsure how to finish my sentence, how to escape his piercing gaze.

“Did you know that I can see your nipples through that bra?”

I just stared at him dumbfounded for having dared to even say that. Then I realized to look down on my chest, to witness two small bumps pushing against the constraints of the tight top. I intuitively crossed my arms on my chest in a poor attempt to cover my breasts.

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