The beginning of my gym life sentence
Approaching a gym never mind joining the gym was a daunting experience. Paying for something, which caused pain, was utter madness but my first attempt to gain muscle by drinking protein powder just didn’t work. I was baffled! I read the label and regularly drank these protein shakes as required. Having at least one shake a day if not twice should’ve done the job but instead of increased muscle size, I had an increased usage of toilet paper. If it wasn’t blocking toilets via my belly, it was my belly itself, which felt bloated and my self-esteem deflated, just like my muscles. I felt cheated, the magazines I read made the claims that I could achieve a six-pack in seven days. I now know what they were actually meaning to say was that after you take a picture of yourself, spend the next seven days on photo shop editing out the flabby parts and doctoring it so that a six-pack will show. I just needed to figure out how to make myself look a little more bronzed but perhaps that was in the second edition which I probably didn’t read properly either. After the protein trials and in depth magazine analysis I finally concluded with my deluded mind that actually lifting weights were the answer! To start my new fitness regime the fitness consultant Paul, had managed to coerce me into participating in their fitness test. I thought it was a great place to begin my journey or so I was brainwashed into thinking. Paul had the classic Men’s Health magazine front cover body. His biceps could crack walnuts as he flexed his arms giving me an inferiority complex! His bulging chest similar to his ego, a little over inflated, looked as if he should be wearing a bra. As he stood next to me, it made me feel like I should start shopping at the toddler’s section for my next t-shirt! The teenager in me however arrogantly believed, with youth on my side, the fitness test should be a walk in the park.
The test began and throughout I whimpered pathetically; a running machine, a squeezy machine, reaching a box, a breath test, body measurements and a few other contraptions. Before the test commenced, body measurements were taken. This had the desired effect of highlighting that my arms were just slightly bigger than that of a pen. I was slim with very little fat, little muscle but a lot of hope! The blood pressure machine seemed to have a mind of its own as it slowly crushed my arm to death with the intention of draining the blood out through my fingertips. The results were all noted down and to complete the body measurements I was then asked to blow into a tube. The peak flow instrument measured lung capacity, which made me question the relevance of it; after all I only had to blow out candles once a year. I began the one-hour test on the treadmill, well not quite the whole hour but the five-minute test made it feel as if I was trekking half way over the continent. Checking to see if I had a heart and lungs, I certainly discovered I could sweat as my legs quivered in fear with the stress placed on them. I could picture myself like some Pac Man game-collecting dots, mouth opened, taking everything in except oxygen. As long as my legs could carry me from the house to the local convenience store and back again, my legs hadn’t been challenged in such a way before. After my marathon, it was time to test my strength. A weird contraption with a dial on it was used to gauge if I really was Superman. I was directed to hold it out to the side of my body, parallel to my shoulder and then as I lowered the machine towards my hip, I had to squeeze two bars together. After what I thought was a valiant effort, I was asked to repeat the exercise! Offended by this request I wanted to reach for his two bars in the form of the sides of his neck and squeeze hard but instead calmly asked through gritted teeth if it was normal to repeat the test. With some of the tests, it was necessary to perform them three times to get an average score so thankfully it quashed my insecurity of being able to snap a pencil in two. Like analysing a flight attendant, I watched the instructor’s face during my fitness assessment to see if there were any changes in his facial expression! His looks of concern, looks of anxiety would panic me. Was I bad! Was I shit! The psychologist in me tried to analyse his thought patterns. I couldn’t tell with his Mona Lisa expression. Was he happy! Was he shocked! The next test consisted of a box with numbers on it, otherwise known as the stretch test. I was instructed to sit on the floor, legs extended, and feet against the box with my back upright. The instructor told me to tip forwards and reach as far as I could. Little did he realise but I was already trying to reach for the box before he even told me to start. My fingers were steadily growing from my hands as I magically wiggled them closer to the box to at least get some form of measurement. Where’s Freddy Krueger’s knife gloves when you need them! The back of my legs felt strangled with loss of sensation to my feet. My hamstrings were about to pop. My neck grew like E.T. as I thrusted my head forward making my eyes bulge from their sockets giving me the impression I was closer to the box. Instructed to breathe out as I reached forwards, I groaned as if I’d been constipated for a week. After the third attempt I’d felt my last vein in my forehead explode and the back of my legs seemed to have smoke slowly billowing from them like burning frayed wires. Who would have thought stretching to be a workout in itself! Call the fire brigade! With the test complete I was impressed to receive a booklet for my efforts. As I eagerly glanced through each page, I was perplexed with the red like bar charts. The consultant systematically flicked through the pages describing to me in what I now see as a politically correct way of describing You’re fitness is Shit! The red squares in the bar charts highlighted Danger You’re Going to Die! Well not quite, but the thought of being told I was poor at everything made me ponder over what the cancellation policy for the gym would be. The gym was great at promoting their services but right at that moment I felt a counselling service would’ve benefited my self-acceptance of how feeble I was. HAPPY TRAINING!