Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Torture Chamber. Also Known As The Gym

So I managed to get myself back to the gym after a rather, let's say, extended absence. One day a week every couple weeks does not an exercise routine make. And that was back in October. Hadn't even stepped foot inside the gym since then.

Now if you’re an exercise fanatic, you’re probably horrified by that last statement. I was almost one of you at one point and I know how much better I felt when I exercised regularly. However, I’m not now nor have I ever been one of those people who actually likes to exercise. I’m not a big fan of sweating. So it’s very easy to slip back into a lazy routine.

But I’ve been back for about a month now and of course I feel better. But let me tell you somethin’ – it hasn’t been easy.

I entered the very same gym I’d been going to for the past five years and looked around in confusion. Not only was there not one single employee I recognized, but they’d moved everything around. My favorite stationary bike? Gone. The pink treadmill that was conveniently placed in the back of the room so I wasn’t the featured comedy act for everyone’s entertainment as I tried to hang on and not fall off the thing, à la George Jetson? Yep. Moved to the front of the room.

What was this – some sort of bizarre exercise machine musical chairs game? I’d only been gone for a few months, for crying out loud. Does the world spin faster in gyms or something? I counted the five minutes of walking around looking for my favorite machines as five minutes of aerobic exercise. Hey, “upright and moving” counts in my book.

Not being able to find my standard machines wasn’t the worst of it either. I mistakenly thought it wouldn’t be all that difficult to get right back into it at the level I’d been. Silly me. Before I stopped going to the gym regularly, I’d been pressing 100 lbs with my legs on the Cybex whatchamacallit machine – the one that is supposed to make your legs all toned and stuff.

Clearly, you can see why I was so flummoxed to discover they’d moved all the machines around. I don’t know the names of any of them and identified them only by their location inside the four walls of the gym. Plus, I only knew what body part I was working on by looking at the little diagram printed on the side of the machine. Oh yeah, this one is for my maximus dorsal finial muscle.

(Whaddya mean you don’t know what the maximus dorsal finial muscle is? Shame on you. I guess you’d better Google it. You’ll find it by searching under “Stuff Jane Makes Up.”)

There are some machines at this gym that I have never used. I’ve never seen anyone else use them either, so I’m not even sure what they do. And I don’t want to be the rat in that particular experiment. If I got brave and tried it on my own, I’d probably end up in traction. Not a place I want to be.

Nevertheless, I selected a different stationary bike hoping it worked the same. I figured pedaling should be pretty standard on those things, right? I mean, you put your feet on the foot pedals, press the “0” speed (kidding), pedal for about a half hour, get sweaty, drink some water and stumble off (not kidding).

How hard could that be? Thinking I should start out slow, I selected the “3” speed and started pedaling. Or at least tried to. Within the first six seconds I realized this was not going to be as easy as I’d thought. If I’d been on a real bike, a geriatric with a walker would have easily blown by me. Not only that, but the red light that indicates you’re not pedaling fast enough, was continually flashing on and off. I imagined it was trying to say, “PEDAL FASTER, YOU MORON!”

Embarrassed, I changed the setting to “0” (not kidding), and tried again. I managed to do the full 30 minutes, every so often bumping it up to “1,” but I nearly fell onto the floor in a sweaty, exhausted heap when I was finished. And I probably looked slightly inebriated as I stumbled around afterwards trying to find the spray bottle of cleaner and that nasty white rag used to “clean” (and I use the term loosely) the machine.

And I still had a half hour of weight machines to get through. Egad. This was pure torture.

After about six weight machines, three for the upper body and three for the lower body, I figured it was a good first effort, so I called it a night. I’m too embarrassed to admit the weenie weights I had to use for these exercises.

My mother, who has never set foot inside a gym, could probably have bench pressed more weight than I did. (I’m making this up up, too. Not the part about my mom, but about the bench pressing thing. I don’t bench press. Let me repeat the thing about ending up in traction. Not where I wish to be.)

So that was my first night back at the gym. I’m happy to say that it has gotten easier since then. Well, at least until this week when I worked out two nights in a row and could barely get out of bed this morning.

I’d quit, but (a) I’m not a quitter, (b) I pay for this gym membership every stinkin’ month and they got six free months outta me, and most importantly, (c) I do realize that exercise is good for me.

So I’ll soldier on.

But just to be sure, I think I’ll hold off using the pink treadmill in the front of the room for a while longer. After all, it would be way too ironic to hear me yelling, “JAAAAAAANE…STOP THIS CRAZY THINGGGGG!”

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