Ficklish Blog

Friday, August 31, 2007

Getting Physical

Last Monday, 27 August, marked six months to go until my 30th birthday. As my mother said on the phone last weekend, ‘OH. MY. GOD, how is that even possible? Actually, I'm not all that conflicted about it and am quite looking forward to my 30s. I have a sneaking suspicion that they are going to be fabulous.

Having said this, I'm the kind of girl who loves a milestone, and so I thought I'd try to use this one to try and see if I can't finish my 20s a bit healthier than I was when they started.

I have previously mentioned that I am a member of a local gymnasium. TPC was quite the gym bunny when he was in town, and he guilted me into accompanying him on a handful of unmemorable occasions. That soon ended, and when he left I felt absolutely no compulsion to resume my attendance. Guess how many times I went to the gym during my two months of unemployment? That’s right. A big, fat, zero (quite literally).

So, on Tuesday I commenced Operation: Move That Ass. Next time I sit on a tart, I want to be okay with showing the photographic evidence with the world.

I have been to the gym every evening this week. Not much, I’ll grant you, but it’s a start. It is a very strange experience. It stinks of stale sweat and mould, which is unpleasant. They play dreadful music, and the film clips featuring (unbelievably) scantily clad women gyrating aren’t as much of a motivation as you might expect.

Seriously, at the risk of sounding like I’m six months from 80 instead of 30, I cannot get over how little those music video dancers wear. It’s shocking and makes me want to scrub my eyes.

The biggest problem, though, is in my head. I am hopelessly unfit, I always have been. I know that it’s going to take time, that I need to do what I can and it will get better. However! I am a child of the age of instant gratification and slow, steady progress is freaking annoying. Further, it is humiliating to be going as fast as I can, all sweaty and with screaming muscles, and to be surrounded by people going three times quicker. I suspect that the reason I abstained from most physical activity from a young age has to do with the fact that I hide a mean competitive streak deep down inside and it pains me that everyone else can do it better than I can. I am attempting to develop a sense of humility about trudging along only slightly faster than a walrus while ignoring the sprinter on the next treadmill.

I have discovered that if you throw your towel over the LED display, no-one can see how fast you are going. Not that they’re looking, or that anyone gives a damn, but it makes me feel better.

Before he left, TPC designed me a mini-program for using the weight machines every other day. I get a kind of perverse pleasure out of this type of activity – it hurts like hell, but I can switch my iPod to something nice and heavy and feel all hardcore and Eye of the Tiger for a while.

The paranoia doesn’t go away, mind you – I feel guilty for taking up time on the machines when the fierce-looking beefcake types stand around tapping their feet, arms crossed, waiting for me to struggle feebly through my turn. I do realise that this is idiotic, but let’s remember that I am quite an idiot. I’m the type of person who feels the urge to apologise if I get in an elevator and press the button for a floor below that of any fellow passengers, in case they’re annoyed that I’m wasting their time. My head is a rather stupid place.

Anyway, I’m doing my best to get over this. The program TPC designed is pretty fun. I don’t know the names of the machines, so we had to invent descriptors so that I would remember which was which. Last night’s routine, for instance, included Chicken Tonight (lifting elbows out), The Big Dipper (a kind of tower on which you can do push-up thingys) and Why, Hello There (which is, um, a thigh exercise).

There’s a weird bloke who hangs out in the weights room every single evening. He hops on a machine now and then to demonstrate his prowess at various feats of strength, but mostly he just wanders about, checking out the scene, and offering to help others with their form. He mostly helps the pretty girls, I have noted, but will offer assistance to a fellow beefcake every now and again, so they can flex their guns at each other in lieu of dropping their shorts and just getting it all over with once and for all. Last night, I heard one such beefcake ask him, mid-flex, if he worked there, and he said, ‘oh no, I’m just here to fill in the gaps.’ Thanks, fella, we’re all much obliged.

I’m self-conscious enough without this guy watching me so I find his presence discomfiting and irritating. And yet (fickle creature that I am), I am a trifle insulted that he hasn’t offered to help me. Perhaps it has something to do with the death stares I shoot in his direction whenever he is nearby. Thankfully, it has reassured me to note that everyone looks like an idiot while doing the Chicken Tonight.

Once my workout (that word amuses me greatly) is done, I retreat to the changing room, where I am invariable confronted by the sight of many women prancing about without their clothes on. I am not sure what the hell is with that. I can’t help wondering if everyone got over this long ago in the locker rooms of adolescence while I was busy in the library, but I remain a furtive, towel-draped changer. Apparently, there are many who are perfectly comfortable hanging out in the nude, doing their hair and makeup and chatting on the phone and whathaveyou. Every time I go in there, I grab my stuff as quickly as I can and scurry out, with the voice of my Grade 5 teacher in my head saying ‘eyes on your own work, people’.

I was telling RVW about this the other night, and he said that it was just like he had always dreamed. Then he asked if I had a camera phone.

(I’m pretty sure he was kidding).

Anyway, humiliation and strange guys and naked women aside, I’m doing my best to stick with it. Who knows how long this health kick will last? For now, it’s like I’m tourist in the life of other people, which is curious and confronting but also kinda fun.


Blogger Jackie said...

Heheh. Chicken Tonight. Heheheh.

Germans are the same when it comes to being a little too free and easy with the nakedness in the change rooms and the collective showers. Lucky for me I am almost totally blind without my glasses, and so I could work on the premise, if I can't see you, you can't see me. Right?

7:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You, go, Girl..

Luckily for me, American women seem to be fairly prude ... no boobs ahoy this side of the Atlantic.

Though I still have nightmares from the 'seniors'days at the Clifton Hill pool. Its one thing to see naked strangers (with smaller buts and bigger boobs)... its quite another to see old strangers with sagging EVERYTHING.

6:58 PM  
Blogger jLo said...

Jax, they totally can't see you. You're safe, never fear.

And my word, young Natalie, that's quite a mental image....

6:15 PM  

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