life at a glimpse...

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Gym

I recently signed up at a gym.  A co-worker works out there and told me about it.  It sounded like the perfect fit – as in cheap, and close to where I live and work.  And, if I signed up by a certain time – I would save about $40.00 due to a special $1.00 sign up deal.  Said co-worker had me meet her one day and showed me around the place.  It had fancy sinks in the bathroom (which was way more of a selling point than it should have been) and lots of work-out machines.  The basic monthly cost was a measly $10.OO.  However, for $20.00 you could get the fancy package which included not only the use of the fancy sinks, but any classes you might want to take (such as Death Rip 800, Dance Hysteria or Flab-Be-Gone-Calorie-Destroyer), as well as the dark room of happiness…A mini-theatre filled with a screen and about twenty tread mill and elliptical machines.  Minus the popcorn.  This room alone was worth the extra $10.00, as it would be a cave where I could work out and not have anyone see me to judge my jiggling thunder thighs.  I was totally sold.
So, two days after I signed up - the people at the shiny counter were just as shiny, and of course looked pretty and good in spandex - I get a call from Jake.  “Hey there!  It’s Jake!!!  From Fitness Evolution!  How do you like the gym so far????!!!!!!”  What the hell?  Are you on crank?  It’s been mere hours since I signed the contract binding me to your company until the unlikely event of my death.  I almost feel bad for not having a decent excuse for the 48 hours which I have obviously been watching Netflix and drinking cheap wine instead of toning my atrophied muscles.  I tell Jake!!! that I haven’t had a chance to make it in yet (see last sentence), but looked forward to doing so.  Jake!!! then asked if I knew that with the fancy package I signed up for, I was entitled to one free hour with a trainer.  I told him that I did not in fact know this, but that this sounded good.  “Great!!!” said Jake!!!.  “So, is this something you’d be interested in?”  Me trying to wrap my startled peri-menopausal brain around such an energetic phone conversation, of course said, “Yes!”  How could I not add an exclamation point to that one word response in replying to Jake!!! (?).  I somehow ended up with an appointment with Jake!!! 48 hours into the future; I was actually kind of excited about this; The words “personal trainer” and “Deborah” had never actually shared a sentence before, and they made me feel extra fancy.
As Tuesday awaited me, I felt a mix of excitement, pride and apprehension.  I mostly just wondered what Jake!!! looked like, and what I should wear to optimize my athletic appearance.  The “Day of the Gym” had finally arrived.  When I pulled into the parking lot, I made sure to park as far away from the entrance as possible – because I was too embarrassed to park my old vehicle, which sounded like a thug’s street ride due to a partially missing muffler – near the slicker, work-out-people cars which seem to find parking spaces near the front entrance.  And when I say “work out people,” I mean anyone who makes over the poverty level (as I do) and can afford a car from this century as well as a fancy $20.00 gym membership.  I walked in with my work-out looking-ish work-out pants and a black tank top.  My work out pants only had two small holes – one below my right knee, and the other in my nether-regions where most likely nobody would see, and a pull or two from where my cats had kneaded my thighs while they sat on the couch as I watched Netflix and drank cheap wine.  I asked for Jake!!!.  Jake came to the counter and introduced himself.  He was as peppy in person as he sounded over the phone, with maybe a few more exclamation points.  He looked like a cross between Arnold Schwartzenegger and Bambi.  I found out that he was 19 and had done more with his life than I had done in my 43 years – except give birth.  Which I’m sure he would have done if he’d been born with a vagina.
After Jake!!! interviewed me more thoroughly than Oprah would have (which included figuring out my body-fat index (I now know that I will have to live off Grapenuts and sunflower seeds for a few weeks to get myself within the range I should be in), he took me on a tour of the gym.  He also worked my ass off.  “O.K.!”  “So what we’re going to do first, is to have you warm up with about 10 minutes of cardio.”  He then put me on an elliptical machine, explaining the basics of which things I could adjust, and sent me on my way with the understanding that he’d come back for me in a few minutes.  I was totally determined to make it look like I could handle more than a “0” incline, and that I could get my heart rate above 25 B.P.M.’s.  When he came back, he said, “Great!” and proceeded to take me on a full circuit of work out machinery - a.k.a. a modern day torture-device gauntlet.  But this is what I had signed up for, and so I was going to suck it up.  That said, I did not expect my “free one-hour-trial-with-a-personal-trainer” to actually involve the training part of the whole deal.  After a 45 second plank pose, stairs, medicine-ball-up–the-wall-while-coordinating-squats, spider-man-like pulley device thingy, lunges, plunges and other embarrassing poses, I was now allowed to go sit down and discuss more paper work with Jake!!!.  I knew my face was a shade of magenta usually only seen on saris or some variety of dahlias, and so I hoped that my future soul-mate hadn’t seen me as I slinked towards one of their shiny counters.  After Jake!!! went over several pages of paperwork and more questions involving what a well-rounded diet and fitness program looked like, he opened his binder to pages which had lots of dollar signs on them.  I was confused.  What had happened to my “Greatest Loser”-esque inspirational diagrams and pie charts?  I was being asked if the “Forget About Feeding Your 17 yr.Old” package was a good fit for me.  ‘Didn’t I think that what I’d just gone over for the last 15 minutes sounded like a beneficial way for me to improve my life?’  I told Jake!!! that I had a pile of medical bills the size of the Obama Care Bill.  He then offered me the less expensive packages, which basically trickled down to, ‘You are a loser because you signed up at our cheap gym and can’t afford a personal trainer even though we just gave you a free hour with a personal trainer because you paid the extra $10 a month for the fancy package’ plan.  I then lied and told him that I might be able to do the “Pathetic Package” once I paid off some of my bills.  I knew I was full of shit, but was too embarrassed to just tell him to go screw himself and his flashy, toned-jaw-line smile.
On my first, independent visit to the gym, I was asked to take a photo for my picture i.d..  Having been sick for the last two weeks, I poo-poo-ed that idea, and blamed it mostly on my hair and that I looked like one of the “Before” pictures on an anti-aging ad.  I then headed directly to the dark room of happiness.  As my eyes adjusted, I was finally able to discern which machines were the ellipticals, and which were the treadmills.  I could choose from either a single elliptical at the very back of the room, or one from the front row, or the ‘create-slipped disks-at-your-C3-C4-vertebrae-because-of-the-angle-which-you’d-have-to-hold-your-neck-in-order-to- watch-the-ridiculously-loud-movie-on-the-big-screen.’ I chose the machine in the back.  I stepped onto it.  No blinking lights.  What the hell?  Maybe this one was out of commission.  So of course I go to one of the ones in the front row of neck injury.  Step on.  Nothing.  Push the “Go” button which I can hardly make out even though I have bat-like vision (oh, damn, bats don’t have vision…and I use that analogy all the time.).  Nothing.  Pretty pony tail girl – the only other human stupid enough to be in this room– is moving along gracefully on her fully functioning treadmill, and has headphones in which are obviously keeping her from losing her hearing due to the excessively loud surround-sound mini-theatre movie.  I hate her.  I crawl, chagrinned, to the front desk and ask for help, explaining that I can’t get any of their expensive machines to work; I think that they probably have a short somewhere and are too cheap to fix it because they only charge $20 for their fancy packages and only the people with fancy cars can afford personal trainers, which would bring in more revenue for the company.  Pretty, well-toned employee, who probably has his eye-balls stuck in roll-back position because he’s so sick of dealing with machine-challenged morons like myself, follows me to one of the many elliptical I’ve tried to make work.  It takes him about three nano-seconds to make the flashing lights come on, and explains that ‘you just have to get it going for a few (nano-seconds) in order for it to turn itself on.  Really???  I look back at pony-tail girl to see if she’s noticed this whole unfolding, but I think she is too mesmerized by her ability to get her machine to work and run her half marathon to some Nirvana album, to notice me and my patheticness.
My goal is to cardio my way through ten minutes of the movie.  The movie has Nicole Kidman in it, and is obviously scary because it is set in a dark mansion and she makes lots of horrified, anxious facial expressions.  When one of the doors in the room she’s in slams shut, it is so loud that I am not only doomed to have premature hearing loss, but to lose the perfect rhythm of which I’ve gotten myself in for the last minute.  I am finally able to adjust to a level 3 setting, which I had to Helen Keller my way for several seconds on the keypad before figuring out how to adjust said setting.  I look over my left shoulder and realize I am about five feet from the surround sound speaker.  Crap.  I decide to try my luck at the elliptical at the very back of the theatre.  I get it working. No speaker five feet from my left ear.  Much better.  I continue the rest of my work out at a slightly less jarring sound level.  It is now time to venture out into the light, as not only do my thighs feel gelatinous, but I have completed the cardio part of my work out according to the recommendation that Jake!!! gave me during my free, one hour work out session with him.  I am totally trying to psyche myself up.  Part of me wants to run out the large glass front doors to my old car, and the other half knows that I need to get my ass in shape, and use the $20 fancy-package membership gym that I signed up for.
It’s a large space.  There is a lot of metal.  To my far left I see the medicine ball that Jake!!! had me use, lying on the floor, but I can’t remember quite what to do with it so I nix it.  I look at the stairs but realize that I just worked the crap out of my quads, so that wouldn’t be a good fit.  What else did Jake!!! show me?  I can’t use the Spidey contraption because you have to have a trainer with you.  I can do the plank pose.  I think how weird I must look doing the plank pose without a trainer timing me or a Yoga instructor sending me good vibes…at this point I don’t give a crap;  I’ll be low to the ground, and hardly visible to the rest of the gym population.  I then scour the room for anything familiar.  I see the machines with the bar thingys hanging from them.  Excellent.  I remember those from the days (and I literally mean days) that I used them as part of my work out regiment when I went to WWU.  However, when I arrive at said machine, I’m not sure I actually remember how to use it correctly.  I try not to look too moronic as I read the directions which are barely visible on the back part of the machine.  There are four steps – one involves adjusting the knee-resistance pad (I totally don’t remember this part.).  I finally figure out which direction I’m supposed to sit, how to adjust the seat, and how far to pull the bar down.  I also, after several attempts, figure out that I can pull 50lbs.  I am not sure if this is totally wimpy, but by this time I don’t care – I am just relieved that I have figured out how to use the machinery.  Twenty reps.  I will do twenty reps, and I will try to do this without looking like I am in child birth.
After leaving the gym, I feel pretty pleased with myself.  I will text my friend and let her know that I bought the fancy package and worked out…though I did not purchase any private sessions with Jake!!! the personal trainer.  Once at home, I heat and iced my shoulders which are starting to feel like Nicole Kidman looked in the movie when she found the piano opened after she’d just closed it just a few minutes before.  The pain from working out makes me feel proud and buff, and I look forward to going to the gym again.
Day two of scheduled gym time:  This time I have thought ahead and brought my work out clothes to work.  I decide that my tight, grey yoga pants will probably not look too slutty or like I’m looking for my future husband or a one night stand, if I wear a long tank top with them; I have modeled this outfit several times in front of two mirrors in my hallway before coming to this justified conclusion.  I realize that I can scrunch the tank top up around my middle region to hide my muffin top.  After getting dressed, I remember to go to Fred Meyer to buy myself a lock for the locker room.  I am giving myself major kudos by this point, and have already began planning my work out regiment; I will once again avoid any attempts of the shiny people at the front desk to take my picture. I will then head directly to the bat cave of happiness for my private and effective cardio work out - where I will now know how to start my elliptical, which will then be followed by the three things I know how to do out in the gauntlet of intimidation, ending with more cardio. 
When I get inside the theatre room, I am happy that the noise level is not that of an ACDC concert this time, and that I have gotten “my” machine and I am able to start it without the aid of a pretty, well-toned employee.  I use my bat vision-not-really-bat-vision to locate the GO button and set the machine to my now standard “3” resistance level.  I will do a full 10 minutes.  There are several pony-hair girls in the mini-theatre this time.  Since I have chosen “my” elliptical (the one in the back), I have the perfect vantage point of everyone in front of me.  I begin comparing myself to them.  How long have they been on their machines?  Damn them – they are on those treadmill thingys.  They are moving at a rate of speed which my car goes in 2nd gear.  I hate them.  They are also, I realize, on machines which not only move 10x faster than mine, but they are not holding onto anything.  I ponder myself on one, and know that I would be an instant candidate for “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”  I really do hate them.  I can see that one girl in front of me had been on her machine for three minutes less than me, and had burned 20 calories more.  I especially hate her.  I hope she falls off.  Damn all inventors of machines that have timers and calorie counters displayed in bright neon lights.  Every time I look down from the completely crappy movie that I am forcing myself to watch, I am amazed at the time-sucking vortex which is apparently created in an exercise environment.  I am determined to do at least seven minutes of cardio to round out my work out.  At about minute three, I am already having to psyche myself into getting another minute in.  If it weren’t for my competitive nature, I don’t think I would have stayed on another sixty seconds.  However, I had a couple of things running through my mind:  1) I bet ponytail girls would go way longer than seven minutes. And, 2) I wonder how many calories are in a glass of wine, and if I’ve burned enough calories in the three minutes I’d been on the elliptical to counteract the effects of a glass of wine.  I of course would need to double that number because one glass of wine would not be enough for me tonight.  So, I try to focus on the crappy movie.  It has a talking cat, three witches and three obnoxious kids in it.  I find myself rooting for the witches to get the kids, which is really disturbing since I work with children.  I keep looking down at the neon numbers.  I have now passed another mind-numbing minute.  I realize that I’m a total over-achiever for setting a seven minute goal.  I will be lucky if I reach five minutes, which I have decided is my new goal.  I look down approximately every twenty seven seconds, and judge myself and silently curse the movie and ponytail girls.  When I finally make it to the five minute mark, I slow down as fast as possible. I do not need the aid of the “Cool Down” button because at that point I am practically jumping off the elliptical pedal things.
I will now go home and immediately call one of my best friends, Stephanie.  Not only will she congratulate me on working out, but will know how many calories are in a glass of wine; she works out and drinks a lot of wine.  Unfortunately, after talking to her, I conclude that I will probably drink as many calories as I burned off during my entire work out at the gym.  Although this is slightly discouraging, I can justify it to some degree knowing that I had also created some lean muscle, which Jake!!! said helps burn more calories.  This makes me like Jake!!! a bit more, and further motivates me to go to the gym on a regular basis.  I’m pretty sure that I will always hate the ponytail girls in the bat cave, but have hope that I will one day be able to master the medicine-ball-up–the-wall-while-coordinating-squats.

The End


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