I belong to a gym that allows for month-to-month membership, which is one of its most endearing qualities. It only requires 30 days of discipline at a time. Anyone can be disciplined for 30 days. It’s after the novelty wears off that brings the true test of diligence. This is only my second month so far, and already my resolve is beginning to wane. It’s not that I dislike going. I really do enjoy working out and how it makes me feel. I enjoy feeling like I’ve accomplished something no matter what else happens that day, and somehow it takes the guilt out of that cheeseburger and fries at lunch. I enjoy the early morning drive to the gym, being able to roll down my windows without having my eyebrows singed off. And I enjoy getting a chuckle out of seeing drivers circling the parking lot for the space closest to the entrance, because Heaven forbid they’d have to walk an extra 17 steps to get to the treadmill.
My gym is actually a rec center, so I avoid a lot of the less appealing aspects of a traditional gym. There aren’t any of the those glistening gargantuan guys who’s necks have long ago disappeared into their pectorals, and spandex sightings are thankfully rare. There’s a lot of natural light in the place and good ventilation, which wards off the caged-hamster-on-its-wheel feeling. And there’s even a rock wall if I’m feeling particularly adventurous- which has only been once so far. (This experience provoked sentiments similar to those of my last ski trip, which can be read about in detail in a previous blog).
I generally spend my time at the gym at four stations. First, I stretch. Not because I really feel that big of a difference, but because it seems like that is what good people do, like washing your hands before you eat and covering your mouth before sneezing. I do the chicken-leg stretch and the I-dropped-a-quarter stretch, then a few that I make up as I go along. Once I’m feeling limbered up, I hop on one of the six elliptical machines. There’s usually one or two others that are already occupied, so I try to space myself out accordingly. It seems to be the unspoken etiquette that one does not take a machine directly beside another person if the next one over is available. Kind of like church. I am willing, however, to break protocol if necessary to secure machine number 6. Number six not only sits directly beneath the ceiling fan, it is also positioned in front of the television that broadcasts ESPN. There’s nothing like watching the closed-captioning try to keep up with play-by-play commentary. My numerical goal on the elliptical machine is always to go for thirty minutes and 2.5 miles, but in reality everyone knows that true success is staying on longer than the person next to you.
After my cardio is complete, I take a cool-down lap around the indoor track and head for the weight machines. I only do one weight machine, mostly because it’s the only one I know how to operate. I do a few sets on that and then I go to the sit-up bench thingy. This is my favorite station of my workout because I get to lie down. It’s basically a bench with a foot-holder that has variable degrees of incline, in case regular sit-ups aren’t difficult enough. I don’t really have that problem, but I slant it anyway so that when I’m gasping my way through my final set I can tell myself it’s because of the incline. Once I feel like I’ll never digest again, I go back to the weight machine for a few more arm reps before I call it a day and stumble down the stairs on jello legs, clinging to the banister with quivery arms. One thing’s for certain, it’s the only flight of stairs that I encounter where going up is easier than coming down.
I'll go to the gym tomorrow for sure. That's always the best day anyway.