Friday, February 17, 2006

Of Exercise Machines and Torture Devices

I hate exercise. It reminds me of junior high P.E. and smelly locker rooms. As a “husky” child - showering among testosterone-crazed adolescent jocks reserved a special place in Dante’s lowest levels of the Inferno.

On cooler days, when gym clothes were not required, I “ran” (if walking punctuated by labored breathing can be called that) in brown corduroys, generating a “swish-swish” of fabric between my legs. Barely more than a whisper, the sound seemed to me a blaring announcement over the school loudspeaker, calling attention to the heft of my limbs. The threadbare patch of cloth between my thighs caused by continual rubbing was a scarlet letter of embarrassment – a reminder of my lack of prowess on the school track.

Therefore - I now carry “baggage” about exercise. To ease this pain, I refer to it as “activity” – a softer term. Call a horse a cow; it still won’t milk. Ah, the twisted paths we weave.

Wearily, I awake to do my “activities” in the spare room. First, one must make sure the workout environment is pure - can’t exercise if the room’s askew. Dust on the windowsill? Breathing problems. Better clean it up. My workout promotes itself as “Eight Minutes.” Proper room prep takes five times that. Any excuse in a storm.

I begrudgingly huff and trudge though 24 repetitions of lifting dumb bells (there’s an irony in that name somewhere but I can’t grab it), jogging in place, crunches, and a ghoulishly twisted floor posture medieval torturers would find curiously fascinating. The rhythmic drone of the announcer twists and turns my worn out bones until “cool down.”

The term “cool down” should be associated with babbling creeks, light breezes, and lazy days. Stretching and contorting while ripping muscles from bones, all the while trying to touch my forehead to my calf is not “cool down”. I am circulating a petition to change the name. Please sign it.

Finally, the best part: shutting off the tape. Health increased. Self esteem up. Body aches enhanced.

Yet, the most maddening detail is not the exercise, er, activity. It’s the falsehood of losing weight for the effort. On the scale this morning - no weight loss! Nada! Zip! And I’ve been exercising religiously for two straight days!

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