Friday, April 25, 2014

Rob Weighs In

Over the past two weeks I've embarked on a long-overdue fitness routine. Having purchased a bathroom scale some fifteen days ago, I've become aware that they sometimes cry.

That motivated me to change my diet almost one-hundred percent, in addition to getting in some exercise every day. I've never seen some of the exercise equipment my health club has, and I've experienced a short, but intense, learning curve regarding how to use it. One lady was kind enough to inform me that I was facing the wrong way while seated on one piece of equipment. Her knowing smile made it all the more difficult to try to rationalize my way through the awkwardness of the situation. "I'm aware of that", I imparted in a sentence punctuated by short puffs". "I'm experimenting with exercising this muscle group from the opposite direction." The fact that sitting on what appeared to be a bicycle seat backwards didn't give me hemorrhoids is a testament to the human factors engineering which was invested in the overall design of the GutCheck 2000.

Being a newbie in a health club can be very awkward. It's difficult to carry the "I meant to do that" bearing when you're forty pounds overweight (now only thirty-two pounds, thank you) and you're surrounded by guys who can bench press, well, me. Still, it's a great feeling, knowing that you're doing the right thing. It's downright handy when that same feeling stays with you after you accidentally bang weight plates together and make the poor girl who's measuring her pulse jump out of her seat.

That's a good opportunity to disappear. I took that opportunity to go work on my abs, which are shaped more like a keg than a six pack per se.

Why are the prettiest ladies only around in these places when I'm out of shape? The pitying looks from one woman made me think she regarded me as someone who's just getting over some rare, but debilitating, disease. "I can crunch that same amount of  weight", she thinks to herself as she strolls away to the treadmill. I'm left feeling self conscious; if only she knew that I'm crunching this light weight, but I'm crunching it a hundred times to her mere twenty. Maybe I'll look her up later and challenge her to a crunch-off or something. I'll do it when I'm chiseled like a statue. Or maybe a beach ball.

Speaking of treadmills, I have only rarely encountered anything as pathos- inducing as these. There are several options listed on them, depending on the desired type of cardio workout desired. In my case, "fat burn" was the target. Having entered this into the computer, along with my age (people tell me I look like I'm in my mid thirties), my weight (minus twenty pounds so I get an even better workout), and the desired heart rate (one hundred fifty-five seems like a round number), my aerobic workout begins in three seconds... two... one... "Oh my GOD someone help me!", I attempt, failingly, to whisper to myself, as another lady -half my age -peeks over at the feedback printed out for the world to see. "Yeah, you have to get used to walking at 2.4 miles per hour if you aren't used to it", imparts the girl whose ponytail comes perilously close to hitting me and giving me a concussion  as she returns to her own routine. Ah, but what she doesn't know is that I'm going to increase my speed every fifteen to thirty seconds. What starts at a shade under two and a half miles per hour is soon over four. My target of the day: to knock off an additional hundred calories. I question how I'm going to do this when the machine is set at ten minutes. Within four of those minutes, I get my answer.

The previous "oh my..." message is uttered shamelessly this time as the machine decides that it needs to incline itself steeply, in case I decide to try to join the Tenth Mountain Division next month. In no time my heart rate is at the red line of one hundred fifty-five beats-per-minute, realized not only by me but by the machine, which is now flashing a heart on the screen to remind me that the next step is to call the rescue squad and notify the next of kin. The next several minutes are spent in virtual hand to hand combat as I reduce the incline to ground level, decrease the walking speed, momentarily, to 3.8 mph, and get the heart rate down to a hundred fifty beats -all while pulling my sagging sweat pants up and getting my hands quickly back onto the grab bar before it becomes aware that they were AWOL and issues that pesky "I know you let go -after I told you not to" message, which by now is grating on my nerves. Anyone who ever complains to me about multitasking is going to get an earful in return.

In all, I love the health club. The members are courteous, the employees are very supportive, and knowing that most of us are combating being out of shape instills a sense of comradery among us. We see one another as having a lot of potential. I like that. It's a positive feeling which helps to facilitate each workout.

I have a fair amount of weight to lose. I predict that I'll be slim about the time that the swimming season is over. That's okay, though.

Next summer I'll weigh in on the issue.


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