Aunties at the gym: a terror worse than the terrorists!

I love working out.  If I’ve had a bad day, if I’m upset about something retarded or if I’ve just had one too many cookies, then there’s really nothing more I like to do than changing into workout gear and hitting the gym.  It’s such a huge part of my routine, that I don’t know what I’d do if there wasn’t one around.

To be fair, the girls gym at LUMS is pretty equivalent to there not being one at all.  To my despair, the equipment is old and creaky, there is just ONE treadmill that’s been around for a while and has scars to prove it, and there’s really not much else it has to offer.  It’s a far cry from the facilities of Fitness First but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.  The summer is an especially bad time to go to the gym here, its stuffy and moldy and it definitely tests my lung capacity but thats still not the worse part of it all.  What I hate and absolutely CANNOT stand are the AUNTIES that descend upon the tiny, under-equipped gym, dressed in their shalwar kameeses, which they see as perfectly acceptable workout gear.  Dupattas fluttering by, they’ll hog the treadmill in an effort to lose the post-natal flab they put on about a decade ago, not realising that chappals and flip-flops are actually not effective footwear for the gym!

Aunty on the left, suspect 1

They’ll stroll on the treadmill for a handful of minutes, huffing and puffing, holding on to the sidebars as if their lives depended on it.  Clearly no one’s ever told them that letting go of the sidebars and using your arms actually helps burn 30% more fat, and no, walking at the same pace as a languishing tortoise does NOT count as ‘brisk walking’, aunty jee.  And can someone please tell me how it helps to bring your kids along to the gym?  All they do is run around as if on steroids, shrieking and shouting, being annoying little brats and fiddling with the equipment while their mothers ignore them.  You go to the gym to focus on yourself and work on getting better, and when there are little pip squeaks all over the place, all I can focus on is resisting the urge to strangle them.  Not only is it irritating for everyone else, it’s also pretty stupid, considering the lack of safety involved but honestly, that was the last thing on my mind the other day when there was this little 4-year old girl at the gym with her mommy.  There I was, out of breath and just off the treadmill, about to stretch my quads and suddenly this THING appears right next to me out of nowhere and wouldn’t move! I was accidentally about to kick her (or at least, I would have called it an accident LATER) because it was as if one of the girls from ‘The Shining’ randomly turned up next to me!

Completely exhausted from their 5-minute routine on the treadmill, they’ll fall on the floor mat as if they’ve just run a marathon…twice.  I’ve even seen some that don’t bother with the walking at all and just come to the gym to fling down on the mats and start doing crunches like crazy, as if they get paid a dollar for every single one they do.  I’ve always wanted to make them stop, give them a good shake and tell them there is NO SUCH THING as spot reduction!  The belly flab you have for the past 15 years after having 4 kids is NOT going to go away only if you keep doing sit ups!  It’s especially not going to work when your technique is all wrong and no, the point is not to lift your neck up, its to list your abdomen.  Yet they’ll go on nonetheless, all the while complaining and whining about how its just SO hard to lose the tummy and, oh my god, you MUST try out this new recipe for butter chicken that I found on Masala TV.

Oh and let’s not forget the ‘stretching’ some of them like to do.  Self-proclaimed Jane Fondas, these hefty aunties will come to the gym all pumped up with adrenaline (or parathas) and start moving about in strange ways that would probably even surprise the cast of Cirque du Soleil.  Thy’ll raise their arms, only to drop them again ath the blink of an eye, and repeat the sequence over and over again, mixing in a little windmill movement here and there.  Yes, because acting like an air-traffic controller will definitely help tone your arms better than a few sets of bicep curls and tricep dips, right?  Apparently so, because these aunties go wild with his thing, and with the loud palette of their shalwar kameeses, even the neon jackets of actual air traffic controllers pale in comparison.

No Aunties at the Gym: If I could, I would totally put this sign on the door

What’s even funnier than aunties at the gym are aunties trying to do aerobics!  I agree, some of them can give Shakira a run for her money but that ould be the mod-squad yummy mummies who have too much cash to burn and time to spare with their kids at boarding school.  What I am talking about are the PROPER aunties, the ones who squawk over paying 15 rupees per kilo for aaloo and who rummage around in their outdated bags for all the coins to get rid of while at the cash counter, and of course the ones who think they live for the sole purpose of fixing up Shaheena’s cousin’s daughter with Ghazala’s green-card-holding brother-in-law’s daughter’s friend’s neighbour.  These aunties are a laugh and a half when it comes to synchronised exercise, feet stomping and hands flailing, they’ll think they’re doing it just right when in fact, they missed every beat and oh yea, the song ended about a minute ago.

Maybe I am being a bit harsh, but I have suffered silently for far too long.  This ends now!  No longer shall I remain silent, waiting for the treadmill to be free, while the aunty on it dilly-dallies on it while talking to her husband’s sister on the phone about last night’s episode of Malaal.  No longer will I just watch and wince while so many of them cramp their necks and injure their back muscles while doing rapid-fire crunches.  No longer will I simply shake my head and wish I were at my old gym again when I see a herd of aunties trying to do whacked-out acrobatic moves because they heard from someone’s someone that it really helps.  Last but not least, next time there’s a kid at the gym or even a suspicious looking youthful midget, I am so going to tell it to go play outside!



  1. perhaps hands-free treadmill burns 30% more Kcal’s… but doing strength training burns about 3x more than just jogging on the treadmill 😉 (and you get to tone your muscles too)
    OWNED 😛


  2. You are so very right about the aunties with their shalwar, kameez and dupatta flying high in their chappals. When will they learn, even after seeing so many others women in work out clothes.

    OHHHH, it was so hilarious to read your article. Keep it up Basmah, you are one brave and smart girl.


  3. My goodness, all I can say is, Thank God I dont go to the same gym you do… Your negativity against women who are trying to do something, despite having no clear ideas how to, is just epic.
    Did you think about getting off your high horse and showing them what to do? Instead of standing around huffing and puffing with a catsbum mouth. Did you ever think that being friendly and perhaps even kind would give you more enjoyment, not to mention sawaab with the Almighty.
    But no, I think I know your type. You wear the latest designer gear, eat almost nothing so are practically a size zero, and then look down at people who are trying. You probably also think whilst on the treadmill you look incredibly hot, or whatever word you choose to describe yourself. And perhaps i am assuming, but you might not even know what you really are meant to be doing there in the first place?
    Ive seen people like you at my gym, and never seen them last. You disappear away once you realise that the ones who earn respect are the ones that try, and yes, thats usually the auntijees. All they need is a guiding voice, and they change their techniques and soon no longer look like auntijees, but fit healthy people.

    Ive read your other entries, and was very impressed. Most bloggers in my experience arent particularly good at expressing themselves, but other than this one, it was a pleasure reading your work.


    1. Sara, I wrote this as a satirical piece. It’s supposed to be more humorous than offensive but clearly that hasn’t gotten across to you.
      And just as you bemoan me for stereotyping, you’re doing teh exact same thing with me. I don’t know you and I am quite sure you have no idea how I really am yet you seem to have deduced “my type”. I am not a size zero, not do I think I look hot on the treadmill. I’ve had eating disorders and health issues that still plague me. I’ve had the same issues the aunties I write about have had, but I stuck with it and learned. I’ve been gymming consecutively for 3 years now so I assure you, I have ‘lasted’ and not ‘disappeared’ as per your prediction.
      This is a blog, a PERSONAL blog where I express my OPINIONS. It’s bound to have bias in it, and viewpoints others do not share. So, if this has gotten you “huffing and puffing” then I’ve done a good job.
      Thanks for reading. And judging blindly. Always a pleasure to get feedback.


      1. A personal blog stops being personal as soon as you publish it, which you have done so. Thereafter, anyone has the right to pick you up on, and question your assertions.
        This piece of writing does not come accross as satire, or humour. It appears to be a direct attack on a group of people you appear to dislike incredibly, and want banned from within your circle of aquaintances because of your own perceptions. I speak only from your own article and in no place do you mention anything about learnin how to work out in the first place, or helping anyone else.
        Your constant assertions (forgive me, I am not as adept at expressing my thoughts in words as you, so am using the same adjectives again and again) about the clothes you are wearing compared to those worn by the auntijees, shows that you think they are important, and from the tone of the rest of the article, the only assumption that can be made by someone who doesnt know you, is that you think you look good.

        As a blogger, I think you are generally good. I believe i mentioned that already. In other places, you appear to have insight into issues and problems over and above the average person who chooses to write their thoughts online. But not here.

      2. A blog remains personal even after it is published on the web. I don’t write for an audience, I write for myself.
        However, every reader has his/her own idea about what to take from written piece. Kudos to you for being SO affected by this post.

      3. nope. I’m just bored. Youre a good writer, but not that good.
        NOTHING on the internet is personal. If you believe that, then, well, I hope you learn it in as a painless a way as possible.

      4. As much as I appreciate you bothering to take out the time from your not-so-busy schedule to read my writing, I suggest you find another blog to pore over. Something with writing that meets your standards. Good luck with that.

      5. You say you want feedback, but it appears that you cannot handle any that does not agree with you, or praise you for what you have written. Is that really the sort of writer you wish to be?

        Good luck with your very public ‘personal’ blog. Try not to insult vast swathes of society, and when someone picks you up on something, try to man up enough to deal with it. I respected you for your first reply to my comment. Thereafter, not so much.

      6. Wow, Sara you really must be bored. And deluded if you think I actually care about your respect. And overly sensitive if you felt insulted by my “insult” to “vast swathes of society”. Try to “man up”, eh?

      7. LOL, I think that I am the one enjoying myself, and you are the one getting riled up now.
        Dont post publicly then get upset at other people not agreeing with you. Try and develop some sort of thick skin. Are you really a freelance writer? If so, then you should be used to people disagreeing with your work.
        Whatever, I’m bored now. Take my comments on board and you will be a better writer for it. Or dont. Just bitch about me to your friends, as the random woman who dared to disagree with your very public thoughts.

    2. There is a saying, ‘If you cant stand the heat, get out of the kitchen’ If you are writing publicly requires and insulting ‘auntiejees’, then you should be able to defend yourself without resorting to childish behaviour when someone critiques it.

      oh, and bitching about me on a different platform, let alone thread, isnt really a constructive defense.


  4. Your blog post has me extremely riled.

    Four years ago i did a thirty mile cycle ride for charity, wearing flip flops
    At home, i regularly use my crosstrainer, for up to two hours at a time, wearing, yes, you guessed it, flip flops, or even barefoot
    At home, i have been known to use the cross trainer, and my weights, whilst wearing a shalwar kameez.
    My cycle ride has become an annual event for me, and whilst i usually wear trainers and sportsgear for it, there is no way in which it is essential. Its more important to be comfortale when you are out riding for four straight hours on all sorts of terrain, than to be wearing the fashionable kit.


    1. It’s not about wearing fashionable gear for working out. I am against that entirely. If you’re sweaty and stinky, you might as well be wearing your worst outfit.
      The main point here is about safety. On the treadmill at home, I often run barefoot, but that has wreaked havoc on my ankles. I use weights at home wearing whatever clothes I am in, but the main idea is to be wearing something that doesn’t obstruct you while you are working out.
      Kudos to you for managing to peddle in flipflops, but personally, I think it causes more injuries than it prevents. You;re handling machinery, you should be taking precautions. It’s like saying that an engineer can choose to not wear protective goggles to shield his eyes just because he;s more comfortable with them off.


      1. Sometimes, the protective gear makes working more difficult, and therefore the user is safer without the protective gear. Think people taking blood samples from HIV positive people, its actually safer to do so without plastic gloves on. However, i do agree with you that thirty mile cycle rides are safer with appropriate trainers on.

        A lot of these aunties that you speak of, if they are anything like the ones i am thinking of, dont do ANY walking. Their lifestyles, culture and upbringing dont allow them to do so. Even shopping happens with the car four steps away. For them, five minutes on the treadmill really would be the equivalent of a two hour session on the cross trainer for me. In five minutes, they are unlikely to harm their ankles, so it is better for them to do five minutes in chappals, and work themselves up to a place where they need the trainers. A bit of encouragement will help them acheive that.
        As for the kids running around, the gym should enforce the no kids rule.

    2. i understand why you’d be riled…its not just that you trained/train in flipflops, its the general fact that there’s a lot of stereotyping in the post (which is okay for a rant, but the author should be ready for a backlash i guess)- from yummy-mummies being super-rich to fat-aunties being super-stupid…

      but here’s the thing:
      you said you liked the other writings on the blog..and u wanted to critique it…and if u critique only the writing, here’s what i’d say (after shes clarified its supposed to be humourous satirical rant) : “I think your writing is great…but one of the hardest things to pull off is comedy and satire…i think your rant is spot on and your observations are EXACTLY what is needed for incisive comedy…but i do think you can work on masking it with a few layers of extra sarcasm – comedy works best when its not direct or when it constantly surprises. This piece we knew what was coming next and it was a bit direct”
      HOWZAT?! 🙂


  5. all i can say is…my GOD woman you really did get fed up of those aunties didnt u?!!
    Its like a swedish rant……hahaha..goes on and everything your patient self had to bear in a gym…

    but to be brutally honest with you, if i didnt know you and this was the only entry i’d read i’d think you were some very burger, high-horsed, better-than-you-all person…..its a rant thats kinda makes me feel sorry for the aunty.
    Somewhere in the middle i started feeling sad for the aunties and stopped laughing and started pitying…
    I kinda get why Sara got so peeved.
    As a neutral who has never read the blog or doesnt know you…..there’s enough stereotyping to make anyone feel sad!!


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