During my childhood years, I was a very lanky kid. As the youngest in the family, I was often self conscious about my thin frame and short stature. Needless to say, I’m not a kid anymore. I am much taller and quite overweight. Recently, I reached a point where I came to a decision. I am tired of being overweight. I am too old to continue outgrowing my clothes. Lastly, I am tired of getting sand kicked into my face by 75 year old men and 19 year old girls. I had decided that enough was enough.
I was prepared to gamble the cost of a postage stamp for a free exercise book. After all, I saw it advertised in a comic book. If you can’t trust the advertising department of your favorite comic book, whom CAN you trust? Instead, I decided to join the local gym. After all, why pay less than a dollar for an exercise book when you can make a recurring monthly payment? That SEEMED to make sense to me at the time.
I was a little nervous on my first visit to the gym. I was in my workout clothes and ready to start my journey to better health. My first eye opener was a lesson in nomenclature. I was not about to enter a weight room, an exercise room, or a workout room. I was about to enter the hallowed halls of the “Wellness Center”. Apparently, I had not been reminded enough of unsightly physique and the effects on my health. I began to envision the Statue of Liberty wearing tank top and gym shorts. She held a water bottle in her hand. The inscription read: “Give me your tired, your overweight, your sedentary masses; yearning to fit into the clothes they wore in high school. I lift my water bottle beside the Wellness door”. As I enter the exercise room. Pardon me. As I entered the Wellness Center, my eyes and ears were exposed to all sorts of wonders. There were approximately 18 different televisions mounted on the wall. Each was tuned to a different channel. You could use headphones to listen to the TV (or radio) station of your choice while you exercised. Some of the exercise machines even had TV mounted to them. This seemed odd to me. Wasn’t watching TV part of the reason I needed this Wellness Center in the first place?
Taking a further look around, I saw cardio machines of all shapes and sizes being used by people of all shapes and sizes. Cardio machines exercise the heart. That is to say; cardio machines give you the sensation that your heart is banging on the cage that is your ribs and desperately seeking escape. The names of some of these machines are pretty self explanatory such as the treadmill and stair climber. However, other machines are given names that make me scratch my head in wonder. Why is one machine called an elliptical trainer and another called an arc trainer? Is there much of a difference between an arc and an ellipse? Why is there an apparent obsession with curved shapes? I can only assume that by using this machine, one can gain a curved shape. I already have a curved shape. A circle is a curved shape. Also, I am not sure I get the concept of a recumbent bike. I can’t help but think that I can connect a bike chain to a recliner and accomplish the same task. I think I just made Red Green reach for his duct tape.
Lastly, I looked to the real meat and potatoes of the Wellness Center— the weight machines. I saw patrons using these machines with varying degrees of effort. I could have sworn that one of the people using the machines had kicked sand in my face once. I decided not to confront him. After all, it would be brutish to make a scene. I could tell by the names of some of these machines that there would be some great discomfort involved. I saw names such as abdominal crunch, leg curl, and back extension. Apparently, such exercises were created by a contortionist bully. I am aware of the adage: “No pain, no gain”. I KNOW this is not true. Over an 8 month period, I lived a relatively pain free life and gained 40 pounds.
I have made a few visits to this Wellness Center. I am ashamed to admit that I do not currently have a steady routine yet. It is my fervent hope that one day; I will be self conscious about how I USED to look. In the meantime, I think I’ll keep the pizza joints on my speed dial.