Adventures at the Gym

Summer is a wonderful season, don’t you think?  I mean there are vacations and beaches and weekend get-aways and tans and painted toenails and sun-bleached hair … and that swimsuit … that wicked swimsuit that you just know won’t fit this year.

So off to the gym with hopes of trimming and slimming so that clothes fit better and self-esteem is boosted.

Right?

Ah, well …

Let me tell you about my trip to Gold’s Gym on Memorial Day …

I was sort of looking forward to meeting the personal trainer I’m supposed to meet on a monthly basis.  I figure I need the nudging of someone who knows the best/right way to loose weight and fat.  I psyched myself out in the morning, taking my time getting ready and making sure I had everything I needed to make this workout exceptional.

The first problem was that I wrote down the appointment time of 10:30.  Wrong.  According to my trainer, my appointment started at 10:00.  Luckily I arrived at the gym early, so I only lost 15 minutes of prime workout time.

Let me say that my trainer seems to be a nice guy.  Knowledgeable.  Patient.  Understanding.  All the qualities I need in a trainer.  I nodded and smiled and asked questions as he laid out the way things would work – I got it, and the usual thoughts of “what kind of hell is he going to put me through” never entered my mind.

The workout started out okay.  He showed me some of the weights and machines, ran me through the workout’s repetitions and how to do it properly.  I was in the swing of things.

Then we got to the big ball.  You know, the huge rubber workout ball.  Well, there was no way I felt comfortable on the things.  First, I’m thinking, “what if the ball bursts when I sit on it?”  Then, when I’m supposed to be positioned on it to do crunches, I felt like I was slipping off.  Enough.  I told him I couldn’t get past that “slipping” feeling – and he said it was okay.  I felt bad.  We moved on to the next exercise.

Step-ups.  One foot planted firmly on a platform, step up and lift your knee up waist high.  Easy, right?  Except if you’ve got a weak ankle and are unsteady as tree branch in the wind.  So I did a few reps but couldn’t finish that either.  A trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods to get an ankle brace should fix that problem (I know they’ll have exactly what I need).

So maybe not the stellar workout that I planned, but it was close enough that my body knew I worked out later that day and on Tuesday.  Thank God for Motrin!

Now being the people watcher that I am, I couldn’t help noticing how un-busy the gym was.  The people that were there were mostly older, mostly guys, and then people like me who were walking around with their trainers.  I only signed up for the once per month sessions, but of course the gym offers a variety of programs tailored to people’s needs and budgets.  Here’s the thing – being at the gym makes me feel good.  I see others there who are pumped and lean and sexy as anything.  And then there are almost as many people there who are just like me – there because we’re not all of the aforementioned things.

My trainer is a cool guy and I think I’m going to like working out with him.  Of course, as he starts pushing me to do more and more, I might change my mind.

Biking on the NCR Trail

Sunday was a nice day.  Mid 70’s, mix of clouds and sun, and no rain forecasted until late afternoon. We decided to take the bikes to the NCR (Northern Central Railroad) trail and ride for a while.  Specifically, my son had been riding his bike everyday for exercise and was interested in riding the trail.  Heck, we’ve only been living in Maryland since 1999 and had talked about driving out to the trail many times in the past (I bought a bike rack for the car maybe – oh, 7 or 8 years ago and first used it a couple of weeks ago), so it was high time to hit the trail.

He did enjoy it, as a matter of fact.  He rode 21 miles roundtrip.  Me?  Did I make the 10 miles I did when my boyfriend and I took our bikes up there a couple of weeks prior?  Nope.  Barely made 7 miles this time.  I made the mistake of going to the gym (the place I haven’t been in months) and having a “free” personal training session Saturday morning.  I didn’t really think anything of it until I got on the bike and rode a mile or so.  Then my thighs started screaming (literally, as in ‘what are you doing … What Are You Doing … WHAT ARE YOU DOING … WHAT THE %?*!?& ARE YOU DOING???’).  I might have walked more than I rode (in miles) and probably sat more than rode or walked (in time).

But something nice came out of it.  There are spots along the trail with picnic tables or benches.  I picked a bench on the river side of the trail.  I got off the bike and sat there, rubbing my thighs, and thinking “you are a sorry excuse for a person who is trying to get in shape.”  As I sat there I realized a couple of things.

First, a high percentage of the population that either bikes, jogs, runs, or walks the trail do so in their own little world.  Some, not many, acknowledge my existence when I smile and say “hello”, “hi”, or “good morning.”  Most people turn their heads as soon as eye contact is made or just look at you with that “you talkin’ to me?” expression.  Those who walk/run/jog with their dogs probably are the friendliest.  Families (mom and/or dad with one or more children) are hit or miss.  Some respond; others do not.  I’m not crazy, I want them to know – I am not going to kidnap your child and I am not thinking indecent thoughts.  I am merely trying to be friendly.

But second, and better than everything I wrote in the previous paragraph, is that I connected with nature.  I sat on the bench and listened to what was going on around me.  When I first got there I thought I was near a waterfall.  And then it hit me that the sound was the wind rustling the leaves in the tops of the tall trees on the other side of the trail.  I watched as the trees swayed gently and listened as the wind skipped across the new leaves.  I listened to the river flowing, to the woodpecker that was having a field day on some unsuspecting bark, to small rocks and pebbles as they were displaced by bike tires or gym shoes.

Do you know how you take a spice jar from your kitchen cabinet, open it, dip your thumb and fingers inside, take some of the spice, and then sprinkle in it your sauce or on your steak?  You rub the spice softly between your fingers as you move your hand back and forth over the top of whatever you’re spicing up.  That’s what the sun did to my face as I sat on the bench.  The sun sprinkled its rays over me – and that made me smile.  It felt really good just sitting there, recovering from the last several minutes of bike riding, and taking in everything that was around me.

The NCR trail is a calming place.  Even when I’m riding my bike I feel peaceful (no matter if I’m sweating, sneezing (did I mention I have allergies?), panting, or in pain).  I feel like Baby (the baby dinosaur in “Dinosaurs” – the TV shows from years ago) because when I think of my bike, all I can say is, “Again!  Again!”