Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Gym

Day Before Day 1:
I wash and organize the $300 worth of fitness clothing I purchased so I could work out. All of the fitness wear I already owned was too small, so I needed to start over with size XL. Black knee-length stretchy pants, a pair of sneakers, eight sports bras, and seven feather-light, high-wicking tops. There are not enough black fitness clothes and bras available. I would like to wear only all black when I exercise. It's a statement.

Day 1:
I pull on stretchy black knee-length pants, a robin's-egg blue Moving Comfort bra, and a Nike tank top in the same color as the bra. New white socks. New sneakers. I stand at the entrance to the workout room, a fat girl dressed in sparkling new clothes and pristine white sneakers. I look like an idiot and feel very dorky. It's like the first day of school, but much, much worse.

I spend 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer, the only piece of machinery I know I can manage. Within five minutes, sweat is running down the sides of my face in rivulets. My chest is also drenched. By the end of 30 minutes, it looks like I have gone for a swim. I drag a mat from the pile near the wall and position it on the floor in front of an over-sized oscillating fan. I spend ten minutes doing situps and push ups. I can only do the girly kind of pushups--ten of them. I hear a creaking noise and realize it's me, wheezing.

Day 2:
I make my way into the gym for a morning Power Pump session. I took Body Pump classes years ago, so I assume this is similar if not the same thing. There are six people in the class. I am by far the youngest. I am the only overweight person in the room. Awkward. I lift my weights, do my crunches, and lurch through lunges. So many lunges. I fight the urge to cry, but I am grateful to realize there are no mirrors in the gym. After class, I mop up the floor around my area and walk over to the fitness room for another half-hour session with the elliptical trainer. I perk up when I realize the data screen on the elliptical trainer is also a television, but am quickly reminded that daytime television sucks.

Day 3:
It's upstairs to the Studio for Tai Chi Chih. There are again only a half-dozen participants in the class, and again I'm the only one who is not retired. One 70-something-year-old woman introduces herself and welcomes me to the group. She asks what brings me to the class. I explain that I had wanted to go to Biggest Loser camp in Utah, but it was far too expensive, so I'm spending my vacation at this gym. Everyone laughs, thinking I'm making a joke. The instructor talks a lot. We do a lot of Tai Chi moves named after pulling taffy. It seems cruel to bring up sweets at a time like this.

After Tai Chi, I stick around for Zumba Gold, the class for seniors. I have zero dance ability, no sense of rhythm, and a near-total lack of coordination, so I figure that the class for seniors should be well within my ability. It's not. I find a new appreciation for running in place while baffled.

Day 4:
Back to Power Pump, but the teacher is a sub who lays off the lunges and practically skips the abs part of the workout. I make up for this by heading into a mat Pilates class immediately following the Power Pump class. Pilates and I go way back, but I always forget why I've abandoned it...until I try it again. It's just too much information to process and too many body processes to coordinate all at once.

Since I'm not in much pain after the first two classes, I stick around the studio for something called NIA. The catalog description says it's fun. Before I can even consider that possibility, I'm horrified to realize that we'll be facing the massive wall of floor-to-ceiling mirrors during this class. The instructor says to focus on the mind-body connection. I make it my task to focus on keeping myself positioned behind the instructor so that I cannot see myself in the mirrors.

Halfway through class, my eyes well up with tears and I fight the urge to sob. God, I hate exercise. I'm just so bad at it.

NIA does not live up to its applied adjective of "fun," but it does make me sweat. Everything makes me sweat.

Day 5:
I planned on Core Challenge, but skip it when I remember that I'm supposed to pick up a prescription at the doctor's office. I eventually arrive at the gym, change my clothes, and realize that I've left my sneakers at home. Shoes must be worn in the workout room and while using machines. Shit. I put on my sandals, grab the car keys, and drive home for my shoes and my yoga mat. Once at home, I pet the dog, use the bathroom, grab the shoes, and return to the gym, only to have it dawn on me that I still forgot my yoga mat. Sigh. I attribute the absent-mindedness to all of the exercising. Surely so much chest-heaving heavy breathing has left my brain deprived of oxygen.

I enter the Studio for a Hatha Yoga class. I'm early, so I pass the time doing squats and lunges and then agonizing wall sits. Standing in front of that imposing wall of mirrors, I can barely look at the puddle of fat around my middle. I'm reminded of why, exactly, there are no full-length mirrors in my house.

The instructor arrives along with more skinny, muscular people, except this group is also impressively stretchy. I am a blob. Most poses are beyond me, except for the one where you just lie on the floor on your back not staring at the ceiling because your eyes are supposed to be closed while you focus on breathing, your "practice," and your "intention," whatever that's supposed to mean.

After yoga, I have an appointment with a staff member to introduce me to the equipment in the fitness room. She asks me about my fitness goals. I tell her that my immediate goal is not to cry in public or to crash into anyone during a workout. I explain that my long-term goal is to be skinny. She seems surprised that I have no interest in improving my health. She says, "You only have one body and you have to be good to it."

I explain that I used to be very fit and health-conscious. Without giving much in the way of details, I tell her that despite my clean living, my body went on to reject and betray me no fewer than six different ways. I tell her I am living proof that being good to your body doesn't mean anything. I tell her that now I'm really bitter and my body must be punished and shown that there are consequences for such betrayals.

The trainer thinks I should be doing standup.

Day 6:
I get on the scale. I have gained a half-pound. I go back to bed and stay there until almost noon.

Day 7:
Screw this.

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