Monday, October 21, 2013

Just Another Gym Lemming

          I joined a gym today. This is no small accomplishment, let me tell you. Some of my favorite romanticized images of myself include frolicking in the ocean waves, performing in 19th century costume onstage, and riding on horseback with my hair whipping about. These perhaps ridiculous fantasies very much do not include one of me lined up inside some humid city space with a bunch of other drones sweatin’ to the oldies. I in no way identify myself as the kind of person who feels a need to “hit the gym” after work… and before work? HA! I think they have officially statistically disproven that “early to bed, early to rise” theory, right?

          I told the woman from the gym who responded to my email inquiry that I would be a hard sell. I told her that she could skip the “We have a new deal this fall!” speech. I said quite frankly, that without my company discount, selling me a membership would be virtually impossible. She was going to have to sell me on the facility though. Last winter my sole form of exercise was “mall walking”* on my lunch break and while I still consider it a worthy form of not being a lazy sack, I think I need to step it up a notch, but only in an environment in which I feel comfortable.

          So today, I had a “meet and greet” and tour of the gym with Emilie, whom I am very glad to have prepped with my candid emails, because she met me with no false enthusiasm for working out, which would have really turned me off. Let’s not pretend that the elliptical machine isn’t the human equivalent of a hamster wheel going nowhere people. Let’s call a spade a spade.

          This being said, this gym around the corner from my work resembles a spa-like retreat just enough to keep me from recoiling in disgust. And since it’s for women only, I can avoid that whole symphony of barbell-dropping and hernia-induced grunting reserved for certain circles of hell.

          I definitely need some sort of translator for the class schedule though. With names like Tabata TBX and Rebound Express, I am mystified. Rhythm Ride? Sounds like some kind of masochistic attraction at Disney. Body pump? Not going to touch that one. Body Attack?? Uh, no thank you. This is not even to mention all the different Sanskrit terms in front of the word yoga. This means you can’t know if you like that form of yoga until your legs are stuck wedged behind your head. (And sadly, the answer for me is that I don’t like most forms of yoga.) At this point all I can safely say is that I will avoid most classes that end in an exclamation point. I’m certain those are for sick people. Aside from that, I am willing to try to keep my mind open and give some new things a shot. Emilie had some recommendations for “fun” classes. I told her we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves with that word here.

          I get two complimentary sessions with a personal trainer. That’s cute and all, but I doubt I will follow up beyond that. I will go ahead and guess that said personal trainer will not be terribly complimentary. And don’t you dare come at me with those fat pinchers so you can point at some dangerous red zone on a body mass index chart. Ever notice that what peoples’ trainers say is a healthy weight range seems disproportionate to what their doctors say? Oh, but I’m sure the people selling you shit have a more accurate system…

          When Emilie asked what my personal goals were for joining the gym, this was more nebulous territory. I felt like saying: “I don’t know, I thought I’d try something other than sitting on the couch with my fingers in a jar of Nutella for a change.” ** Instead, I started with the fact that I have a pretty busy schedule with fulltime work and gigs, but that I’d like to trim down, (ahem, honeymoon-in-Napa-weight for which I cannot say I am sorry). I also would like to keep up my health in general. Isn't that kind of the point here? In trying to translate some of the classes for me, she asked if I were interested in achieving a “cut” look. I looked at her and said; “Honestly, no.” First of all, I'm not convinced that my trying to achieve such a look wouldn't be about as realistic as chasing a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This delusion of a rock hard body with no flaws is just what sells in this culture currently. More importantly though, I personally like my womanly look, and I’m fairly certain the husband does too. Enhancing my cardiovascular health along with some toning? Sure. But even the good salespeople of the gym can’t convince me that having some kind of 6-pack goes along with my favorite images of myself.

* “Mall walking” may be for eighty year olds in white sneakers, but I’m somehow strangely ok with this image of myself as introspective mysterious stranger over gym lemming.
** It should be about here in our reading that my fitness enthusiast parents are silently wondering where they went wrong.