Sweat. Grunting. Hormones. Spandex. Muscles. More sweat. More grunting.
I’m talking physical fitness here, not speed dating and I’m talking a lot of commitment too – again unlike speed dating. Each repetition, each crunch, each set of dumbbells bringing me closer to that Arnoldesque physique I always envisioned I would someday have.
I had no idea when my bride coerced me into joining the local clock-sounding fitness club that I would regain the lost muscles in my shoulders, or that many seniors regularly work-out and when I say work-out, I mean work-out. We usually arrive around 9am and leave about an hour to two later and the gym is probably fifty per cent people in their fifties and over.
Like most everyone in the gym, exercising is a solo activity and most of us keep their eyes averted and follow the routine they believe will bring back their vitality – but, I know in my heart each of us are “checking” everyone else out. It’s a body makeover place and everyone there is trying to get someplace they either were or want to go. It’s a place of sweat and people watching.
Talking is nearly impossible anyway, as many wear earbuds, or Beats headphones, even though the loud speakers are sending out a rhythm designed to motivate us to higher levels. Then there are the 12 TV monitors on the ceiling so a person can watch the sports channels or find out what Rosie O’Donnell and the other clucking hens think about who knows what.
Me? I’m old school Rocky, working out in the basement gym. No headphones for me. I aggressively move from machine to machine, barely resting and my muscular friend Derik Hammes tells me this is why I am so sore. I don’t care. I am there to slam my body into shape. I want to look like the 20-30 year olds with the cut physiques, tiny waists, and extra large biceps. No pain, no gain.
I’m in my third month of 4-6 times a week and I found out quite early on that my weakest muscle group is my shoulders and on top of everything else, my left shoulder positively aches at times. I have to set the shoulder press at a lower weight and do multiple sets to warm up before I move to the heavier stuff.
I would say that the balance of sexes is close to 50 percent too and that brings up the pump part. The club has a number of organized classes, one of which is Body Pump where light weights are integrated into a cardio workout. Would you believe it is mostly women in that class? Where are all the behemoth testosteronees? Then there is the Spin class where a very toned lady rides through a series of exhausting stationary bicycle up and down hills for an hour yelling encouragement like a buff drill sergeant. Almost women exclusively here too and this brings us to big kahuna; the Zumba class.
I pretty much think this is a class for women only, as men’s hips just can’t replicate what the instructor is asking students to repeat. To be truthful, I do not ever want to be witnessed doing these moves, or I will be forced to turn in my man card. Don’t get me wrong now, none of it is vulgar, just feminine in nature and women’s anatomy facilitates the gyrating movements. In fact, I don’t even want to envision another man doing them.
The Body Pump class is a different story – I think. I want to try it. I think I can do it. I’m just wired in such a way that I don’t want to fail and especially in front of a bunch of fit womens. Yes, I said womens and I know it is grammatically improper, but I have to maintain my masculinity by talking like a caveman. I’m at the gym for crying out loud.
The drill was wind sprints, something all b-ball players know all to well. You run down, touch a line on the floor, then dart back and touch the starting line. Then run out further, repeating the process until you’ve ran 4 times and finally return to the starting line.
I’m competitive to a fault. I’m 62 and everyone there was much younger than me, but I beat them all… twice. To my horror, it appeared they might do it again and my man card was suddenly in danger. Claiming my knees might not survive a 3rd time, I waved, smiled and exited the court into the gym and it took me 3 minutes to catch my breath over where the small group couldn’t see me.
Never mind. Yea, I’m ready. Bring on the Body Pump!