So, madness overtook me in a screaming fit of angst Saturday before Mother’s Day. Yes, indeed. It was something akin to full on psychopathic mania or possibly demonic possession, because I know that had I been in my correct cognitive state, I would never have been compelled to do what I did.
I joined a gym. Good heavens! What was I thinking?!? How could I have possibly been influenced? Yes, friends are consistently talking about going to the gym. Swimsuit season is upon us. The pool in the backyard is nearly ready for occupation by other than algae and other debris. However, I am still going to blame demons… or possibly aliens. They are always a good scapegoat. After a rather enjoyable dinner with friends from work, all of whom talked about various physical activity, and at least one works out regularly (and is the visual aid promoting said practices, I will say), I felt my jeans to be tighter than I would like. The constant reminder that gravity has impacted my physique in ways not pleasant to me, and the fact that diet alone does not appear to have any sort of impact at all these days has resulted in a desperation that could lead to pacts with evil entities… and that never works out well.
I have been asked multiple times by friends to join them in their workout routines. I have also been the recipient of workout propaganda that would have already been more efficacious than waterboarding except for one small thing… very small: My bank balance. Many people would say, spend the money for a monthly membership, and you will go because it would be a waste of your money to not go. That never worked on me. I hated going into the gym. I could always talk myself out of it, and before I knew it, months of membership fees had passed and along with it, many, many dollars. And, so, I told all my so very caring companions that it would be throwing good money after bad for me to even consider joining anything. I would just be wasting money I did not have. At one point in my life, I considered myself rather fit, and despite the continued learned commentary of several of my acquaintances on what I need to do to improve my physique and health, only one thing has ever worked for me: Aerobics. Sadly, and with shame, I admit I was one of the lycra clad women bouncing around to music with and without props (weights, bands, steps, etc.). I never was one that could lose myself in continued reps with free weights or a nice long jog on treadmill or elliptical. There was a time when I could ride miles on an actual bicycle, but to sit on a stationary bike pedaling away while watching inane talk shows or anything else was something that made me want to stab my own eyes out. Therefore, I would continue to do my progressive squats, crunches, push-ups, and such in the privacy of my own home where I would not feel shame comparing my own over-40 body to the myriad of spandex wrapped hard-bodies blithely climbing their invisible mountains on stair step and elliptical machines.
And then, it happened. I honestly cannot say what did it. Was it the conversation with my very fit friend? Was it the over tight feeling in the waistband of my jeans? Was it the unwelcome reflection in the mirror reminding me of time’s passage, or was it (most likely) my resistance failing in the face of too much peer pressure that resulted in my fingers, as if by their own accord typing in the pattern of key strokes that would make me a “joiner?” Before I realized what had happened, I had my very own gym membership. Hell hath frozen over.
Faced with Armageddon, there was only one thing left to do. I printed out the emailed version of my contract and took it down to the temple of fitness to get my “key” and free t-shirt. On a side note, I truly believe that we can take over planets with free t-shirts. Anyhow, the deed was done. I have been assimilated (Someone please tell me that I will soon have the physique of Jeri Ryan, Seven of Nine). Thus ends the tale, right?… not quite. You would think that purchase of membership and having the courage to walk in would be sufficient to insure the end of days, but no.
Working out is not exactly a simple matter of physical activity. There is apparel to be considered. No, I am not so vain as to require designer gear to be a physically fit clothes horse. However, appropriate clothing and footwear is necessary, because this facility is not in a nudist colony, and I don’t want shin splints. Once I had established my susceptibility to peer pressure, it dawned on me that I had no shoes that would actually protect my feet and joints from damage. I had a representative pair of tennis shoes that appeared to come from an archeological dig. I also (to my abject mortification) have a pair of platform sneakers advertised some years ago as able to firm your backside merely by having them on the feet and walking around. Needless to say, attempting to wear these for a regular workout will not only look ridiculous, it will also result in an injury to my lower extremities and/or me plummeting to my death… from humiliation. So, at the very least, a new pair of sneakers were in order.
Have any of you tried to purchase athletic footwear these days? I think I’ve bought a set of tires that cost less. I have been truly amazed at the prices on these things. At first, I thought it must be a matter of fashion again, noting the bright colors and brand names. Given the size of my feet, I tried the men’s section instead, naively hoping that the less fair sex might warrant less dear prices. Boy, was wrong! Men’s athletic shoe prices make the women’s shoes look like a yard sale find. Granted, the reason for the increased expenditure is that allegedly the construction of these beastly shoes provides the support and cushion that prevents injuries, like shin splints and compression fractures. That being said, I truly resent being charged triple digits for shoes, especially shoes that look like alien technology in neon colors. Thankfully, I was able to find clearance racks that provided a more reasonably priced alternative.
With my feet taken care of, my mind turned to the rest of my body. As a friend said, just wear a t-shirt and a pair of old sweatpants or shorts. A very reasonable and logical idea. Have I mentioned that working out in any public venue has not been part of my life for more than ten years? It isn’t an issue of being fashionable. I sincerely could not care less whether I match or have the latest thing on my body. However, my old clothing fall into three categories: Inappropriate, uncomfortable, or damn near pornographic due to strategically placed ventilation (not part of the original design). I felt it was necessary, therefore, to supplement my wardrobe with a few pieces to have at least three or four decent outfits that could be rotated through laundry, dresser, and wearing.
It is a testament to the amount of time it has been since I last purchased so much as a pair of sweatpants. I was again gob smacked by the sheer digits involved on the price tags attached to tiny pieces of stretchy cotton or spandex. Thank goodness again for the clearance bin without which I would not be able to afford so much as a tube sock. Three bins and six clearance racks later, I was sweating and exhausted, but I was able to find sufficient covering for my bottom half without depleting my checking account… well, at least not more than I already had. Making my way to the checkout, I saw other women already clad in color coordinated leggings and fashionably layered sports bras with tank tops. I clutched my meager purchases and timidly went through the check out. I made my way through the outer doors to my waiting vehicle and drove the rest of the way home.
Walking through the door, I found that my physical and emotional limits of the day had been reached. I sank down on the couch with my hard-won purchases resting on the floor at my side. Well… my journey of physical fitness has begun. I am sweaty, exhausted, and completely emotionally spent… and I didn’t even have to get dressed out. Let’s hope that my next outing is a bit more productive physically and less draining financially.