Shapin’ Up

June 22, 2007

Since last Monday, I’ve settled into marginally routine visits to the nearby 24 Hour Fitness. That excludes the five day lag that occurred on account of a rather busy weekend. Still, I have gotten to the point where I look forward to visiting the gym. The attendees at the main desk have started to recognize Diane and I, right down to the unexplainable difficulty of scanning my temporary pass.

Generally, we walk past the muscle machines on the first floor, ascend a metal staircase, and begin on a treadmill or elliptical. I prefer the elliptical machine since it allows you to exercise a number of muscles and get a good cardio workout. (Yes, I’ve started using the word “cardio” in everyday conversation. “Ripped” and “psyched” will soon follow.) My iPod weighs too much to hang comfortably from a belt clip, so I set it on a slim bar on the elliptical’s control panel. I suspect that I’m in the minority when it comes to music choice while working out. Many may choose something with a good beat, but I prefer opera or classical. At a deeper level than the usual workout fare, a bit of the old Beethoven can summon forth the will to keep moving. Sometimes, I have no iPod, but I can invoke phantasmic snippets of music to make my workout easier. The prospect of better health helps as well.

The treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes overlook the bottom floor. They also face several flat panel televisions that provide a riot of visual stimulation. From my (usually nightly) visits, the viewing fare generally includes two news channels, reruns of second-tier television shows, so-called “reality” series, and programs on Spike TV. Last night, Spike broadcast a Total Nonstop Action (or, subtly enough, TNA) Wrestling tournament. Despite the profound levels of testoterone found in such programs, I didn’t feel the motivation to become as musclebound as the performers (er, contestants) on that show. In fact, I almost fell off the elliptical laughing when someone poured a whole can of foaming beer on the face of a downed wrestler who apparently went by the moniker Rhino. Like some deranged Lazarus, Rhino suddenly rose from slamdown-induced unconsciousness and went berserk, throwing chairs out of the ring and knocking over a table. I don’t know why I found it so funny, but the whole idea of a guy going nuts like that seemed rather absurd and cartoonish. But then, what else would one expect from pro-wrestling?

Feeling inspired by Rhino’s antics, I wandered over to a “horseshoe” configuration of weightlifting machines. I figured, if I ever encountered a situation like the one shown on TNA, maybe I had better start bulking up. However, I don’t think I could reach Rhino’s proportions. Besides, Diane doesn’t like such a look, so I’m aiming for something more moderate. Last night, I only used the machines designed for upper body muscles. My legs are already in excellent shape (probably from carrying a few extra pounds), and I hoped to use one of the “ab” machines. I tried one the night before, and it was much easier than mustering the sense of balance required for the various “ups” exercises (sit-, pull-, and the like). Unfortunately, one of the regular meatheads monopolized the machine I liked, so I tried unsuccessfully to use a different one. At that, Diane and I went home.

We probably won’t get to the gym until sometime this weekend, but I hope to try out some other abdominal exercise machines. I’m sure that some purists look down on them, as do those who swear by free weights or machines without footrests, but the machines work just fine for those like myself. Perhaps one day I’ll move away from the machines, but getting myself on the path to fitness seems more important.

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