Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I Must Love Pain

Nothing else explains my gym membership. Oh, I wage a pretty good battle with myself every night. The excuses begin as soon as I leave the office. It’s too cold. I didn’t eat enough fuel food. I’m behind on my writing. The President is speaking at six, and I should get home to see what he has to say. But two or three times a week, I can’t think of one damn reason to stay away, so I go.

I enter the locker room to a blast of cold air and that out-of-body music they play at day spas. The kind that makes you wanna curl up in a ball for a nap, not jump up and down. In total silence, I strip next to strangers, politely averting my eyes, as they do the same. This eerie atmosphere makes me long for the chaos of my high school locker room.

You’d think now that I’m here, it’s a done deal. But even as I slip off the pumps and stow my purse, I’m hoping for a reprieve. Hey, things happen. Like, I forget a sock. Or a top. Or my shorts. Those are the days I know I’m not “meant” to work out and, taking God’s word for it, I bebop home. But, no. Tonight I’ve even remembered my water bottle. Guess I’m here to stay.

Out on the floor, I discover I’m late. That the only spot left in the “lower body blast class” is in front, next to the instructor. Being a seasoned veteran, I suck it up. I ignore the words echoing in my brain…location, location, location. After all, this is weight training, not marketing.

I look around and notice an impossibly skinny woman behind me. Worse, she’s older. And she’s using 6-lb weights to my measly 3’s. I take this as a bad omen.

Music floods the room. Loud music with a relentless rap beat, but that’s okay. I don’t like black olives either, but somehow they work with Thanksgiving dinner. So, I shift into funky mode and follow the instructor’s warm-up, my eyes darting to the mirror to check my form.

Now, like I said, this is not my normal spot. I’m usually hiding in the back row. And the first thing I notice up close like this: huge luggage under my eyes. I mean, we're talking heavy-duty Samsonite the likes of which I haven't seen in my lighted mirror at home or the bathroom mirror at work. What the hell happened? Have I aged that badly during the warm-up? (Note to self: check recovery time for latest eye-lift procedures; try to squeeze in before trip to Puerto Vallarta)

Maybe it’s the stress of this awful discovery, maybe I’m a little tired from an action-packed weekend, but my legs begin to feel like I’m carrying 10-lb sandbags on my ankles, and my heart flies way out of its target zone, and I’m not even doing aerobics. I’m only squatting and lunging, for God’s sake.

Thoughts of escape flash in neon across my brain. It’s simple when you’re in the back. You vaguely lift your water bottle in the air, trot out of the room on the pretense of filling it at the cooler, and just never return. Or, you utter a soft whimper, then limp out the door, comforted you only had to deceive the people in your immediate vicinity. At minimum, you flake out on the last set of reps.

But tonight, I don’t have that option. Any way you slice it, I’ll look like a fool. So I soldier on with the bending, lifting, squeezing, pumping…only resting resting when I slug back some water (which is every chance I get).

Finally (and I’m talking forty-five minutes of this hell later), I flop to a mat for ab work. At least here, I can fudge without everyone noticing what a slacker I am. One eye stays on the clock. Ten long minutes until cool down. I may never take this class again.

Sometimes, I fight my dread of the gym all the way to the building, do my workout, then lie on the mat awash in pride. But not today. Today, that sense of well-being never comes. I’ve truly hated every moment. And tomorrow, the only thing I’ll have to show for this hour is achy limbs and sore muscles.

It’s one day later. I’m in my office, and the clock is closing in on five. I gave my gym clothes the day off because, um, I'm pretty sure the President is speaking tonight.

1 comment:

Brooke said...

LOL Randy...I can SO picture this! And yes, I am quite the President is speaking tonight...somewhere...