I’m gonna be straight up honest with you. I didn’t go to the gym today. I didn’t go yesterday either. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember the last time I went to the gym. I have what basically amounts to a lifetime membership at 24 hour fitness, and I think I have been there 10 times in the past year. My car got rear-ended last July, causing me back and neck injuries, and working out and/or running have been difficult for me. I actually thought about going today. My neck went out last Wednesday, but I’m feeling better this morning. Writing about going to the gym is ALMOST as effective as GOING to the gym, right?
I miss the gym. Sorta. I prefer running outside, but when you’re running inside on a treadmill, or lifting weights, it gives you more time to observe people than when you fly past them. Ok, maybe “fly” is an exaggeration. “Move slightly faster than the old couple out for a stroll” is probably more accurate. I miss the opportunities for people watching at the gym, and I’m not thrilled about the extra weight I have put on this past year.
I was never much of a fitness fanatic. If you may recall from my previous post- http://kbjackson.com/anything-i-can-do-you-can-do-better-musings-on-an-average-life/ I was not what you might call athletically gifted. I had asthma, a lack of coordination and a lack of confidence. I never quite understood people who exercised for fun. Occasionally I tried the 20 minute aerobic workout videos ( “4 more. 3 more. 2 more. Now take it to the left and one and two and three.”) And for a time in the late nineties I did “Tae Bo.” My need to take a shower after the Tae Bo tapes (and yes, I mean VHS tapes) was precipitated less by the workout and more by the dirty feeling I had from the creepy way Billy Blanks looked at me through the TV.
My favorite workout tape, though, has to have been “Seven Minute Abs” as seen here:
http://www.popscreen.com/v/7Gg/7-Minute-Abs (the full clip from “There’s Something About Mary.”)
By the time I was 35, I had given birth to 4 children and had my gallbladder taken out due to poor diet. I knew I had to make a change. I tried the “Biggest Loser” DVD’s, but hit a wall after about 15 pounds. I remember saying to my husband, “I hope you like me exactly as I am, because I’m pretty sure this is the best it’s gonna get.”
His response was to take a pretty large risk by giving me sessions with a personal trainer for my birthday. That could have gone very not well for him. But I decided to seize the opportunity, and showed up at the gym with fear and trepidation. When I asked Jeff how he had chosen the personal trainer he said, “I looked around, found the biggest, meanest looking guy there and said, ‘that’s the one!'”
And he wasn’t kidding. But in 3 months, Mike Cahl (still training in Orange County, CA if you’re in the area and need a kick-ass trainer) transformed me from a soft, squishy size 14 (plus ) to a rock hard size 4. I wouldnt believe it either if it hadnt happened to me. A colleague of my husband’s started calling me “Robomom.”
Soon this asthmatic who got out of PE with a doctor’s note for all of high school, was running an average of 20 miles a week. And I was spending lots of time at the gym.
When we moved back up to Washington from Southern Cal, I noticed there was a vast difference in the clientele of the gyms in each location. Whereas the Huntington Beach 24 hour fitness looked more like a nightclub or the set of a workout DVD, my new gym looked like the bar scene in “Star Wars.”
Over time I began to pick out my favorite regulars. There was Jersey boy,
No, not that “Jersey boy.” Jersey boy was a guy who worked out every single day in what appeared to be his high school football jersey. He looked to be at least 5 years out of high school. Jeff’s theory was that he wore it because the cut of the shirt made him look broader in the shoulders. All I know is his mom must be really good at laundry to make sure he had the same jersey clean every day.
There was “anchorman.” I dubbed him this because he reminded me of this guy:
our former anchorman in Los Angeles. “Anchorman’s” mustache was tighter than this, though. Last year he shaved off the mustache and I was very disappointed. Maybe if I ever get my rear back to the gym I will see he has grown it back.
Every gym also has its resident anorexic. When I lived in HB, I actually mentioned to the front desk at the gym that they should do something about the fact that she was literally killing herself before my very eyes and they told me there was nothing they could do about it, for fear of being sued. The girl up here spends hours on the elliptical. HOURS. She wears a giant pink parka and looks like she’s being forced to keep moving even though her body can barely function. She smells like death. The front desk up here said that they limit her to two hours by policy, but then she goes to the other 24 hour fitness about 15 minutes away. If someone wants to kill themselves, there’s not a lot you can do about it, I guess.
There’s the old woman who walks the treadmill in her mom jeans. I’m not sure why she doesn’t just bite the bullet and get herself some comfortable workout clothes. I have also often seen a man wearing street clothes on the treadmill with a giant set of janitor keys hanging off his belt loop. He doesn’t walk very fast, so thankfully it keeps the jingling to a minimum.
About 3 years ago, a new guy showed up just after New Year’s. It was clearly a resolution situation. He had on a new blue sweatshirt, matching blue sweatpants and shiny white shoes. He came back the next day- same outfit. For two months I wondered when he would decide that the resolution was going to stick and he could invest in a second sweatsuit. It never happened. The last time I saw him, he was still wearing the same cornflower blue Hanes sweatsuit. I wear something to the gym and it doesn’t come back clean out of the laundry room for weeks. I can’t figure out how these people wear the same thing every day. Maybe he has several sets of the same exact outfit. That is more plausible to me than that he washes it every single day.
There’s a trainer who works there that I would never hire in a million years. Besides the fact that he has a serious paunch in his belly, he’s slimier than a slug. He has longish hair that he slicks up with some sort of greasy product, and he just has that “creeper” vibe. One day he showed up and he had colored his hair with blue streaks. It was not an improvement. I guess my feeling on personal trainers is that they should look somewhat like what you aspire to become. There is nothing about that greaseball I would want to be like or want my husband to be like.
One day I was in the back of the gym doing curls. I looked over into the room where they do classes. There was an older man there in the back row, closest to the window. He wore tight yoga pants, and he clearly was enjoying the class. CLEARLY ENJOYING. If you know what I mean. Two days later, I’m back there again, yoga is happening again, same thing. Eventually I had to change my workout schedule so that I was no longer doing curls during the 9 am T/Th yoga class. It’s like a car accident- I was horrified and yet couldn’t stop looking.
I gotta say though, my two favorites were Abs girl and Orgasm girl. Abs girl had the most spectacular abs I have ever seen on a human woman. Seriously. For a while, she seemed to have a thing with this giant buff guy who couldn’t turn his head because his neck was so thick. One day, they were no longer spotting each other. She had a new spotter, and he was with one of his other musclehead friends. He kept looking longingly over at her. I suspect Abs girl broke the big guy’s heart.
Orgasm girl, well, she was in a class all by herself. Every single thing she did in the gym came along with a vocalization. Every rep had a sound effect. Every bench press, every leg curl. Everything. And they were all straight out of a porno film. We get it. You’re hot. You want everyone to see that you’re hot and you’re working out. Not everyone wants to hear what it makes you feel like. I could do that too, you know, but I have self control and grunt it out like everyone else. I know the sounds I make are way less pleasant, but they are appropriate to the activity in which I am participating. One day I noticed Orgasm girl was no longer svelte in the middle. She was pregnant. Apparently her method of working out was more effective than I had imagined it to be. Or was it less effective?
As for me, well, I have a long road back to the peak of my fitness. I can still run 3-5 miles in a stint, but the next day my neck and back feel like I have been jackhammered. I may need to take up a new form of exercise. I tried hot yoga, and I didn’t die, but I didn’t love it. Plus I’m not good at scheduled classes. Every time I showed up right before the class was supposed to start, and the only spot left on the floor was directly under the heater. I felt like a rotisserie chicken.
Now that the weather is better I should probably take up walking. It’s tough on the runner’s ego to walk, but I think I just need to get over it. I’d rather be a semi-fit walker than an unfit former runner.
I do need to get back to the gym, though. My injured self can still do some toning and light cardio. Besides, I think it’s time to check up on all my old friends, and maybe find some new ones. It’s worth the pain for the entertainment. It could happen. It totally could.