2017-02-01 / Loose Ends

Sweat Equity

Back at the gym
Susan Nienow

  One day soon after what I refer to as my workout epiphany – to make any progress at the gym, I have to work harder than I have been – I walked into the gym like I belonged. No swagger. I don’t know how to swagger, and it probably wouldn’t look quite right anyway since I have a bum hip.

This admission that I need to exercise, even though it is to myself, is big from someone who doesn’t really like to sweat, except when I am gardening in the heat, and who doesn’t like exercise even for the sake of a possible swagger.

I flashed my membership tag at the front desk and headed for the stairs. Here’s where it all came unglued. I left my epiphany on the 7th step and by the landing, felt like throwing my gym bag over the railing except the padlock is really heavy and might really do some damage if it hit someone.

Instead, I rested my bum hip and then finished my climb. A much younger person at the top of the stairs stopped to hold the door for me. Did I really look like I needed the help or was he being polite?

My trainer, the only reason I show up at the gym, greeted me with a smile, and I started warming up. I am not the perfect client. In the first place, I am not there willingly. I have to work on getting more fit so my muscles can help the joints. Or something like that.

Four minutes forward and four backward on the first machine. Some days the clock on the machine seems to be working and other days I think it takes twice as long to register those four minutes. This day, the clock is slow. My trainer smiles and agrees with me but still makes me do four minutes by the clock.

She can be mean but with a smile. I move to the next machine and sit on it backwards. She tries not to laugh and by the time I realize I can’t reach the handles on it from where I am sitting she has control of herself and assures me I am not the only one to do that.

I nonchalantly get up and turn around so I can actually use the machine, then I scan the surrounding area to see if anyone is watching. I don’t see anyone focused on me, even though I am sure they could pick up some pointers if they watched.

I am really a fish out of water no matter how many times I have been here. Add that to my nonexistent sense of anything three dimensional – well, just take my word for it. This is not my second home.

For the rest of my session I pour on the steam and try to break a sweat, almost succeeding. The good news is that I can probably use the same towel next time I come.

Maybe I will buy a new exercise shirt. I can go for best-dressed.

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