I do not understand people who enjoy going to the gym. When I hear somebody carry on about how much they love their daily workouts, I wonder if we are from the same planet.
You see, I am from a world whose inhabitants are not blessed with natural athletic ability. My mom once admitted that when I was a child, she wondered if I would ever develop enough coordination to walk without falling for no apparent reason. I was the enthusiastic family klutz, a role that I played well until my teen years.
Seventh grade was the first and last time I ever ran voluntarily, and only because I had a crush on a cute boy from the track team. I was determined to impress him with my skills. In the end, I put on an entertaining show that involved a (not so) graceful fall over the hurdles, from which I still bear the scars. Size 12 feet (at age 12) and lanky legs were not a winning combination. I’m not sure why my middle school heartthrob never seemed interested after all I went through for him. He clearly did not know what he was missing.
I gave up running after my comical debut because I was not cut out for that sport. Also, I did not appreciate feeling like I was either going to vomit or die any second. So I joined the marching band instead, surprising myself and my family by finding grace and poise as a proud member of the color guard. Dancing while tossing a flag was the exercise of my dreams.
Unfortunately, however, our local high school marching band will not allow me to join at age 40. Even if they did, my son would veto that in a heartbeat. Apparently, it is not cool to have your mom marching and twirling a flag by your side, which I do not understand because I am the coolest mom on the block.
These days, I must find other ways to get my heart rate up because being 40 is not good for the waistline. Cheese and chocolate might also contribute a tiny bit. And possibly ice cream. And cookies. And tortillas. And handfuls of candy corn.
OK, I might have a slight problem, but I drink water instead of soda, so it’s all good. Except when my pants don’t fit.
I am not willing to give up my favorite foods because that is right up next to running on the misery scale, so I have resigned myself to three mornings a week at the gym, with a day or two of hiking in between. I enjoy the hiking because fresh air and good conversation with my hiking buddy make it bearable, but the sweaty gym still gets me every time.
Since my motivation is lacking for doing things that are boring (ahem…treadmills and ellipticals…) or that inflict pain, I have decided that paying for a trainer is beneficial. He keeps things interesting by giving me a new workout every day. I don’t even have to think about it; he just tells me what to do.
“This is going to require some coordination, but I want you to put one foot in the TRX strap and do lunges with 15-pound dumbbells in your hands.” (John, you obviously do not know who you are dealing with here. Would you like to see my hurdling scars? Coordination is not my thing.)
“Do 100 jumping jacks, but try not to pee yourself.” (I have five kids, young trainer. I can only do one or the other.)
“Do 20 bicep curls followed by 20 rows, repeated five times. Then go run for two minutes and start again.” (You’re killing me, Smalls. I can do the lifting, but two minutes of running will surely throw me over the edge.)
“Hold a plank for one minute.” (OK…but I will lie on my stomach when you are not looking.)
“Lynnette, your weights are too light.” (What?!? My arms are jello. I am seriously dying here!)
See why I need a trainer? I am perfectly incapable of pushing myself through exercise discomfort. Left to my own devices, I would be eating a snack in the corner, observing the suffering of others while licking chocolate off my fingers. Or I would stay home and cook something yummy instead, which would be no good for my waistline or my overall health.
So I pay a million dollars a month for John to torture me, and it is worth every penny.
I’ve been doing this exercise routine for the past year. I can now curl 20 pound dumbbells instead of eight. I can do several real pushups where I used to struggle with one. I have added weights to my lunges, step-ups, and squats, and it does not (quite) kill me. I can run for two minutes without feeling like I am headed for the grave (but three minutes is iffy). I realize I am still weak compared to many, but it’s all about baby steps.
Every workout pushes me to my limits, I live in a constant state of muscle soreness, and I hate exercising while I am in the middle of it. But my limits are growing. I am gradually getting stronger, despite the fact that I have yet to lose a single pound. And, by golly, on the way home from the gym of ill repute, I feel like a rockstar. The memory of that feeling somehow keeps me coming back for more.
I can pretty much guarantee I will never love the gym; it is simply not in my genetic makeup. But I am learning to tolerate it because it makes me feel better. Plus, I adore food almost as much as life itself but can no longer eat whatever I want without inconvenient weight gain. I will continue to suffer through grueling workouts so I can keep crème brûlée and candy corn on the menu, but not necessarily in that order.
Sometimes, pain makes pleasure possible. Will somebody please remind me of that when my alarm goes off at 4:15 for a 5:00 am workout?