Monday, January 2, 2012

Gym-nausea - from The Grumblings of... by Randi M Sherman, the authorof Paula Takes a Risk, Available 2012


It has been said that getting to the gym is half the battle.  I view the whole gym experience as a test of courage. The benefits of working out should outweigh the hand to hand combat with an exercise bra or the risk being killed in a stampede of people who want to get closer to the mirror. I want to be healthy and fit, but I’m not willing to get into a chick-fight over who got to the treadmill machine first. 

I’m the type of gym-goer who will circle the parking lot for twenty minutes until a space close to the door is available.  It’s considered a successful gym experience if I make it through an entire workout without the need for recitation.

When I arrived at the gym, I headed for the locker room to change into my exercise togs.  Making my way through the steamy room that was filled with naked women and high pitched hum of hair blow dryers, I located my assigned locker. It was a narrow opening in the wall that was designed to hold a maximum of one set of keys, a gym membership card and a wire hanger if its placed in the vertical position. Across from the lockers and bolted to the floor are balance beams that are supposed to be used as benches.  I knew that if focused my concentration on balance and form, I could make it through the entire dressing routine and land a clean dismount.  After which, I would jump up, arch my back and throw my hands in the air to await the judges scores.

It was time to change into my brand new gym-appropriate apparel.   The activity of putting on these clothes is an exercise in itself.  I thought of employing the assistance of a larger, stronger gym member to “spot” me while I squeezed into the rubber band that had been fashioned as an exercise bra.  The first step was to identify the front of the bra.  I took a deep breath and with all of my upper body strength, I stretched the elastic around my wrists and wrestled it over my head and shoulders, taking care not to dislocate a limb or pull a muscle.

Once the bra was in place, I looked at my reflection in the mirror. I adjusted my breasts to a level position and tucked any noticeable back-fat and excess lateral-chest-bulk under the elastic.  I was hopeful that the red marks from the struggle would soon fade.  At that point, I was a little light headed and needed to sit down, catch my breath and eat a mocha flavored energy bar.

There are two main styles of exercise bras.  One type is more utilitarian than the other.  The first presses the breasts so flat that by comparison, a mammogram seems comfortable.  It binds the breasts so close to the chest that they are, not only immobile, they are no longer distinguishable.  The other style of exercise bra is more fashionable.  It supports and lifts the breasts to give them a fuller perkier appearance.  Depending on the adjustment, this bra can lift the breasts so high that they might impede vision and range of motion. With the proper adjustment of this bra, the cleavage could be used as a hands-free water bottle holder.

Next, I tackled the spandex shorts. Could they be any smaller? Off of the body, they look like a pair of Capri pants from Barbie’s summer wardrobe. Once on the body, they look like sausage casing.  Using maximum shoulder and arm strength along with the contraction of my abdomen and butt muscles, I yanked and pulled the shorts up my body. So much for my upper body workout, I thought.  Once the shorts were in place, my thighs begin to swell out of the bottom.  And above the waistband, don’t ask.  The excess skin and weight around my mid section, made it look as if my spandex shorts had had an atomic explosion.  I covered it all with a giant T-shirt and headed out to the circuit training equipment.

The most daunting piece of equipment in the gym is the scale. Why is the scale located in the middle of everything?  I broke into a sweat as I approached.  Weighing myself has never been as simple as just stepping on the scale and sliding the balance weights to the “you-weigh-this-much” position.

No matter how lethargic or sluggish I was, the fastest and most coordinated maneuver that I made in the gym was stepping on the scale, measuring, and then stepping off of it without leaving any evidence of my true weight. I have developed a highly choreographed routine for using the scales at the gym.  I call it the “step-measure-sigh-step-slide.” Here’s how I do it. I concentrate on my breathing as I scan the room to see who is standing within eye-shot of the scale.  In one fluid motion, I step onto the scale, manipulate the balance weights, suffer from massive depression and then step off again.  While stepping off, I simultaneously slide the balance weights back to the zero position.  If by chance, I draw attention to myself with either a misstep or a whimper, I force a smile, wipe the tears from my eyes and announce, “Weight doesn’t matter to me. It’s the tone and muscle mass that I’m concerned with.”  If pressed, I may say that I’m retaining water.  If the gym-goers are still not convinced, I resort to the explanation, “I’ve been constipated for a week.”

The “regulars” at the gym are very territorial.  It is not a good idea to break into their circuit routine. I innocently approached the Butt Buster device.  I was just about ready to adjust the weights on it, I heard a high-pitched voice.  “I’m using that machine.” 

I looked at the machine.  I didn’t see anyone.  Was I hallucinating?  After all, my new exercise bra was very tight and might have been limiting the blood supply to my brain.  Then I heard the voice again, “I said, I’m using that!” 

I looked once more. Still, I saw no one. Gee.  I thought, This woman is very thin.  I can’t even see her. 

From the lounge area, across the gym, I heard the voice again. “Hey, I’m talking to you.”  I was startled.  I looked up and saw what appeared to be a walking make-up counter with a hair scrunchy, and a butt thong waving her arms, shooing me away from her machine.  “Don’t touch it!  I have the weight and height set just right. I’m just resting for a minute.  I should be done in a few minutes.  Geeze.”  Then she looked me up and down, rolled her eyes and returned to her power drink.

While examining the bruising on my body that was caused by the elastic of my exercise clothes, I was nearly trampled to death by a herd Neanderthals who were jockeying for position in front of the mirror.  I stood there in amazement.  I realized that mirror-posing is a serious business.  Evidently, once the right pose is selected, the posers are required to gaze at their reflections with love and affection.  They appeared to be flirting with themselves. “You’re so big and strong, handsome and courageous.” And that’s just the women.

Among the various gym-goers, there are those people who go to the gym just to be seen.  They don’t seem to exercise at all.  It was impossible to use several machines because they were being used a nightclub.  Clicks of the beautiful people were hanging over and leaning against the equipment while flexing, flirting and making dinner plans.

I approached the leg-lift machine where a woman was sitting.  She was talking into her cellular telephone.  She held up her hand to let me know that I was interrupting her conversation. 

I decided to skip the weight training portion of my workout.  I went to the cardiovascular area only to find a group of women who had set their treadmills on browsing-speed.  They strolled along for about thirty minutes. 

As I stood there waiting, I looked around the gym.  My attention was drawn to a group of red-faced men who were grunting and groaning as they lifted weights. Call me naive but, if something is so heavy that is could cause a hernia or an exploding aneurysm, put it down. 

There was a height-weight chart pinned to the wall.  Upon examination, I realized that I am five inches too short for my weight.  I became depressed and decided to go home. 

Later, I laughed to myself when I realized that fashions and the idea of beauty are forever changing.  I figured that ten years from now, the height-weight chart would be completely revised.  After extensive studies regarding the benefits of potato chips and glazed buttermilk donuts, scientist will discover that we were all fifty to one hundred pounds under weight.  Spandex will be outlawed.  It will be declared that the massive consumption of green leafy vegetables coupled with exercise, energy bars and butt thongs will have contributed to the early death of hundreds of thousands Americans. And because of the limited amount of fabric necessary to make clothing, less textiles and fewer garment workers will be needed. Which will result in the crippling of the U.S. economy.

An hour had passed.  I had gone to the gym.  Although, I never actually worked out, I did get points for going.  I had determined the future trends in beauty, healthcare and the economy.   I had worked up quite an appetite.  It was time for a snack.

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