A while back I posted that I had started going to the gym to address some of my, for lack of a better term, health issues. Psychologically speaking, I decided to go for the very reason that I don’t want to go. You can read more about that decision HERE. But for this post, suffice it to say that sometimes in life you just have to psyche yourself into doing even the most beneficial of things.
OK, so at least 3 days a week I wake up, have a cup of coffee and a healthful breakfast of sliced fruits, nuts and feta cheese. I don my gym clothes and saunter across the street to the gym. No, I don’t drink raw eggs ala’ Rocky, but I do raise my hands in victory after jaywalking my way through traffic. Sure, there’s a crosswalk about 20 feet way, but, you know like, that would be too easy. Besides, statistically more accidents happen at intersections than in the middle of the road.
Anyway, the gym I go to is small, or at least the weight room where I work out in is. There is another much larger room that hosts aerobics classes of all forms. If Cheech and Chong were members of this gym, they’d probably hang out in the corner of the larger room. At times, this room seems to reverberate with waves of rainbow colored hues of stretchy fabric waxing, waning, and writhing in faux copulating movements. Reminded of the Doors’ song “The End” and the lyric “weird scenes inside the gold mine”, I’ve decided to pass on these regular Dionysian orgies of spandex and lycra. Anyway, I don’t do spandex; it makes me itch. So, I’ve opted to stick to the smaller room where most people wear cotton. It suits me fine.
Moreover, the larger room also has a disproportionately large amount of women doing ‘squats’. Now, I once read an article on a phenomenon called menstrual synchrony concerning lunar fertility rhythms in ancient tribal communities. The women there would ovulate together on the full moons and then subsequently bleed together on the ‘dark moons’ (when the moon and sun are conjunct). Yes, the large room makes me nervous.
In the weight room, my basic workout regimen includes 15 minutes on a stationary bike, 20 minutes on a treadmill, assorted gesticulations on weight machines, and then another 20 minutes on the treadmill. Oh yeah, I have to do sit-ups, too. Alas, life ain’t perfect.
Warming up on the stationary bike is great. It’s comforting to know that my work out begins with my sitting down. I also appreciate that the chances of my falling off the stationary bike are very low. Also, the stationary bikes face the small TV hanging precariously over the heads of those huffing and puffing on the treadmills. Quite a choice of viewing options is on offer here: the morning news or bouncing butts (less ‘Barbie and Ken’, more ‘Betty Boop’ and ‘Popeye‘ – for those of you who are more visual oriented).
OK, don’t get me wrong: the truth is I’m not really one to comment on the physiques of other gym members. Honestly, I do want to say that I find most of the people who train or just workout at the gym very inspiring. Sure, it’s easy to throw stones and crack stupid about who should be voted onto any one of those reality makeover TV shows that grace the airwaves. But let’s be honest, looking in the mirror and seeing our own shortcomings can be very sobering. Trust me, my looking like Popeye would be a vast improvement over my looking like his friend Wimpy, or even Judd Jugmonger on a bad day. Though I’ve managed to lose about 10 pounds already, my naturally grown beer belly still protrudes a bit from under my t-shirt when not tucked into my pants. And, though I’ve been told that I am broad shouldered enough to pass for a weight lifter or wrestler, I’m no Arnold Schwarzenegger! Well, maybe I could pass for him if I grew a few inches, lost my gut, and stood in front of one of those circus mirrors.
Speaking of Arnold and my beer belly, I wanted to make it clear that attaining six-pack abs is not one of my goals. When undertaking any fitness program, you do need to set realistic goals… and if you saw me doing sit-ups, you’d most likely agree. Firstly, the Earth’s gravity must have gotten much stronger since I last did sit-ups in a past life. I’ve given up on being able to reach my knees with my elbows more than once. A trainer told me to just focus on raising my shoulders off the floor a few inches, and to make sure I exhale on the way up. To my horror, I’ve learned that I breathe backwards! Now, I’m not sure if this is the result of a congenital disorder or what, but apparently with practice and patience, the condition is reversible. And yes, I’m making progress! Ground Control, we have lift off!
Now, when I first started using the treadmills, I was instructed to take it easy. “Walk, don’t run” I was told. Fine, I can walk. My feet don’t go in the same direction, but I can walk. In time, I discovered, it’s not enough to just walk, however; you need to walk fast in order to get your heart pumping the sweat out of your pores. And, somewhere between your maximum and training target heart rates an endorphin rush lies, or so I’ve been told. Therefore, over time I’ve ramped up my walking speed. It did take me a couple of weeks to start sweating appropriately, but I am happy to say that now I’m flailing my legs around at a good pace, and I am only worried about at what high speed it would be safer to run than to walk. After all, I’ve only fallen off the treadmill ONCE, so safety is always an important consideration.
I’ve also made an amazing discovery: it turns out that I like perspiring. Lord, who would’ve thought that I, a former Miami native, who traveled way across the sea to get away from 12 months of insufferable sweltering persiration inducing Florida humidity, would end up enjoying warm sweat streaming down my body into my sneakers? But I do. I don’t know if it’s an ‘endorphin rush’ I’m experiencing, or just the good feeling of knowing that I’m actually realizing some of my health goals. When I get home after each workout and wring out my gym clothes I’ve peeled from my aching body, I smile knowing I made the right choice to get up off my ass and go to the gym.
So, for all you couch potatoes who can’t decide on whether or not to take the gym plunge, I say ‘JUST DO IT’ and ‘GO FOR IT’, too! And, take heart: most of the pulling and pushing you see on those weight machines are done from a seated position!
PS. Thanks for reading. Do you go to the gym? Do you like sweating or are you just generally a nervous type? How many times have you fallen off the treadmill? Be honest!
Suggested Listening: What I listen to on my MP3 player for my high energy workout: