Friday, August 29, 2008

A Commitment to Good Health

I believe that paying for a gym membership on a monthly basis is the cornerstone of good health. I haven’t actually BEEN to the gym in several years, but just knowing that I could (if I wanted) go sweat my face off with 20 strangers is enough for me. I may not ever go, but I definitely pay for it once a month – and that’s inexpensive peace of mind if you ask me. I consider it part of my general life-long commitment to good health.

I have no excuse for avoiding it other than that I HATE working out; plus something inside me rebels against the idea of running in place. It makes me feel like a big sweaty, hairy, hamster on a giant mechanized hamster wheel – and I don’t like that. At no point in my life do I want to feel that I have something in common with a tailless rodent. I also hate running, in general. In fact, if you see me running down the street – shoot whoever is right behind me. I’m running FROM him, not WITH him.

I’m sure you see my dilemma.

It’s not like there are hungry lions lurking in the neighborhood. If I need to get in great shape in case I feel predatory eyes trained on me out by the garbage cans – I believe I’ll learn to love running. The fact is - I don’t need to be in great shape to do what I do. In fact, I could spend 90% of my day tethered to a mule and it wouldn’t seriously cramp my style.

Certain people in my life don’t understand that. These certain people seem to feel that gym membership alone isn’t enough. Apparently, there is a widely-held misconception in the world that suggests gym ATTENDANCE is the heart of the matter.

It’s a tough argument and honestly, I don’t have a great excuse. I JUST DON’T LIKE IT and, consistent with my habit of not doing things I don’t want to do - I don’t work out.

My roommate, Austin K. Lee, has a medical condition wherein his entire body breaks out into angry hives if his heart climbs 10% over its resting rate. The man is, literally, allergic to hard work. I wish I had that problem, but I don’t. “Hey I WOULD work out, but I blow up like a big, puffy, red, hairy balloon if I get sweaty” is a much more compelling argument than “nahhhh, I don’t like it.”

Much to my chagrin, my girlfriend, Jessica, compelled me to actually ATTEND a boot camp-type gym class on Monday morning.

I didn’t break into hives....but now I can’t walk.

I guess I showed her!

I woke up at 3am on Monday morning and I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I did what I normally do when I can’t sleep - I snuck into each of my roommates rooms and tiptoed around their beds once to see how sneaky I can be (very sneaky), then I sat on the edge of my bed and tried to fast forward through all my Tivo’d hunting shows. I can’t delete a show unless I watch a little bit of it, so I’m on a constant campaign to get my Tivo memory down to zero. Then, I lay on my back and watched my ceiling fan for a little while until I got dizzy. After that I got up, dressed in workout attire, and headed out.

I arrived early and stood around in the parking lot for a little while watching cars go by until burly women in weightlifting gloves started pulling up. I picked a particularly mannish patron, followed her in the door for protection from flying medicine balls, and started warming up.

My warm-up routine involves shooting the breeze with the gym owner for a few minutes, getting a cup of water, going to the bathroom and smelling the weird air freshener, then standing in a prominent position in front of the mirror sucking my gut in for a little while. I concentrate on looking tough (which is hard to do with so many freckles) - so I end up with a sort of snarling grimace on my face.

When my warm-up routine is over the “class” starts and we end up basically running around a lot with weights, laying around on the floor a lot with weights, and rolling around on a big rubber ball a lot…also with weights. Ordinarily someone sweats on me, someone else smells really weird and gets too close to me, someone else surpasses me at some feat of strength, and finally weird/smellly accidentally touches me and I'm halfway home before the trainer knows I'm gone: usually in that order.

So, we kick that process off at about 6:40. 9 minutes later I’m 50% of the way through 100 jumping-rope-jumps (I can’t get a streak of more than about 4 in a row so it takes a while) when our trainer walks over, looks at the gigantic woman next to me, then back at me, and says “hey you look like you’re in reasonable shape. I’ve got a challenge for you.”

Well, that already doesn’t sound good to me at all, but the big lady next to me was huffing like a blue whale and she looked so grateful at the chance to catch her breath that I figured I’d draw it out a little. So, I asked him what exactly he meant, and how much challenge did he think was appropriate for 6:42AM on a Monday? I meant it rhetorically as a conversation starter, but he promptly snatched away the 45lb barbell I had forgotten to take it down from over my head, pointed at an 10ft long PVC pipe, and said “give that bad boy a try.”

I immediately think slyly to myself: "This guy ain’t real sharp. Here I am holding 45lbs of steel over my head like a prison camp intern and he wants to 'challenge' me with 4lbs of PVC." Naturally, I’ll take him up on his offer – you know?

First – a little bit about the gym. It's not more than 22 feet across. A 225lb sweaty guy stumbling around in the middle of it with an 10ft 4” diameter PVC pipe over his shoulders is what some insurance companies might call “a hazardous situation”, but I figured if the TRAINER told me to do it – it was fine.

So, I lifted all 4lbs of PVC over my head…….and immediately fell over. He neglected to mention that it was 50% full of water "for balancing". He grins. I feel stupid from down on the floor, which is where I often feel stupid.

At exactly that point; as I'm struggling back to my feet holding 10 feet of white plastic-filled water-torture across my shoulders in a melee of huffing, jogging, early-morning workout-people: weird/smelly brushes against me and I'm out the door before that PVC hit the ground.

I would go back, but going to the gym makes me not able to walk.


Jedge said...

You pretend like you don't love it...but you do deep inside!

Anonymous said...

Ah, I see you inadvertantly discovered the 'slosh pipe'. I can empathize. I have been going to a Crossfit class, here in Huntsville. (a blog for the athletic masochist). There are some pictures of me on the site. I am surprised how feminine I look when I work out- and that's BEFORE I start crying. Yet, there are usually not enough fluids in my body for any tears after such a workout.


Emily said...

love this... i feel the same way about working out! :)