I did it. I went to the gym and I survived! Don’t cheer just yet; I was only there for half an hour. A minor success, but I’m proud of it. I knew hoping the place would be empty was too much to hope for, and I was correct. I had no idea so many people who outwardly appeared sane would willingly subject themselves to public to torture. It’s all part of the learning curve I suppose.
Daughter #1 and I began on the cycles as all the treadmills were occupied. Kindly, knowledgeable daughter suggested we try the recumbent cycles which to my delight appeared to be an easy chair with pedals attached. I pedaled to the playlist I usually listen to while writing and observed my surroundings. I felt smug. I can do this. Sitting on my, er, rear, my favorite tunes in my ear, making up stories about the people around me. This isn’t much different than what I do every day, except I’m moving my legs.
At resistance level one I’m able to check out the place at my leisure. With only a row of treadmills between me and a bank of floor to ceiling windows overlooking the parking lot I have plenty to look at. The wall directly in front is mirrored, a kind of giant rear view mirror. I pedal away. I can do this. I glance at Daughter #1. She is up to level 4 and is half way to Riverside while I’m still in the driveway. I kick it my bike up to level 2.
The woman on the treadmill at the far end is starting to get on my nerves. Does she think there is a bear chasing her? She was running at warp speed when I sat down and is still going strong. There must be some kind of law. I vow to look it up when I get home. I feel much more charitable toward the nerd in his pajama bottoms who is strolling while reading a colorful brochure. He could be planning an exotic vacation but I suspect its gym propaganda. Seriously, this guy will never look like the models in that brochure.
I’m feeling pretty good so I kick it up another notch. I can do this. The treadmill directly in front of me is vacated by the old guy (anyone over 30 in this place) and is quickly claimed by a god. Yep. Are my legs burning? Who knows? Who cares? Thanks to the mirrored wall I have both a front and rear view of this rather nice male specimen. Hubba Hubba. This guy is six feet of lean, muscled, toned and bronzed male. No pajama bottoms for the hunk.
I thank my lucky stars and kick the bike up another notch. I can do this. Mr. Hard Body is running as fast as the lady with the bear chasing her, but somehow I don’t find this anywhere near as annoying. I swig water from the bottle I brought along (see I know what I’m doing) and admire the scenery. My bike has several ‘tours’ available, country road, mountain pass, but why I want one of those when the landscape ahead is full of such delightful hills and valleys?
Daughter #1 taps me on the shoulder. There are two ellipticals open, do I want to try that? “Why not?” I say. The timer on my bike says 25 minutes. I can still breathe. I can do this. My legs tingle when my feet make contact with the floor, but I manage the ten feet to the new machine. This looks fun. Daughter #1 assures me it is. “You get to bounce,” she says with a smile. Bouncing is something I do all too well these days, thus the reason I have signed myself into the chamber of horrors in the first place. I smile back and say, “Okay.”
The machine flashes me. No, not that kind of flashing, a message in bright red letters. “Pedal harder,” it says. I try. Legs go in two different directions, arms in two more. “I think I’m going backwards,” I say. Smart ass daughter says, “That’s because you are.” She places my hands on the vertical bars and tells me to push. I push, I pedal. Mr. Hard Body is forgotten. I need all my faculties to stay on this thing.
Two minutes in on resistance level 1 and my thighs are burning, and my lungs are seizing up. I let go to take a swig of water (yes, I still have over half a bottle). My legs are still going, propelled by the machine, not by my muscles as I have no muscles left, or at least no control over them. Water sloshes from bottle to dribble from both corners of my mouth. Great. Now I’m drooling on myself. I wipe my face with my shirt and demon daughter says, “You can quit whenever you want.”
Not me. I can do this. I wrestle the hand grips under control and push on. The machine flashes me again. Bastard. What does it look like I’m doing? My vision blurs. I think I may be going backwards again but I’m helpless to reverse the motion. Another two and a half minutes go by. Five minutes total, including water break. I give up.
As we make our way to the locker room my legs scream obscenities at me. My arms are noodles at my side. Daughter from hell says, “You did good. Half and hour. Not bad for your first time.”
“Huh” I respond. According to the computers on the machines I have endured thirty minutes of self inflicted torture and burned off the grand total of two M & M’s.
Luckily I have the car key so my demon spawn can’t leave me behind. As soon as I can stand I’m going to use it.