When I left the house I was feeling very impressed with myself for tackling this challenge but a little intimidated because I know gyms are full of buffed-up droids in the international sweat cult who look at guys like me with pity. But not today. Seems it was some special day for seniors at the rec center so I was immediately relieved. Nothing but seniors in slow motion on bikes and mountain climbers. Then as if I wondered into the Twilight Zone, I walked into the men’s locker room. The very first image I saw will be with me all the way through therapy. It was a man around 75 years old completely naked and completely in need of this facility. What have I done? As I made my way into the locker room more and more of them, in every frightening form you can imagine, were everywhere. It was like a forest of large flesh candles that had been melting wax for a decades. When you find yourself in a situation like this you never what you will do. Trying to hold it together I made my way to a locker looked straight to the locker wall until I was dressed out. I learned what taking a thought “captive” was when I imagined for a nanosecond what the ladies locker room must have looked like.
The track at the rec center is upstairs. I had previously made a playlist on my iPod that had three songs that lasted fifteen minutes. After stretching I made my way to the track and started a slow jog for the first time in years. The track had several people on it but one lane is restricted to for joggers only and I was the only jogger so I had an entire lane to myself. The first lap went well then the second. After about 3 minutes I learned my lungs were flammable. Only 12 more minutes to go, I thought to myself. About the time I had consumed all of the oxygen in the building (that’s how it felt) I went into the “walk” part of the fifteen minute “walk-run.” For the rest of the time I ran some and walked some. Then, thank God, it was over.
I walked until I was able to breath normally again then set into my push-ups. I did 15 modified push-ups before my arms turned totally to jelly. Then 21 sit-ups and finally, 25 deep knee bends. The only thing I can say is my head was pounding, my heart was thumping and my skin was very, very red. This, I said to myself, is a really bad idea. What is wrong with being fat, out of shape and disgusted with yourself? Was it worth visiting the men’s locker room again?
The next stop was the circuit trainer area. I hopped on the butterfly machine because I want my pecs to look they did at 23. I know, they don’t make a butterfly machine that can do that kind of miracle but by this time the endorphins had me loopy and I was fantasizing. But it’s about attitude, right? Besides, the thought of the human man forest gave me the motivation I needed to keep going.
The final unanticipated event was the shower I took when I was done working out. The shower stalls went along one wall all the way to to a door I thought was a closet door but actually opened up to the pool area. Although the stalls were out of sight of the door, once you stepped out – if you were using the last one – you stepped out right in front of the door. I, by luck, chose the end shower next to the door leading to the pool area where there was a geriatric water ballet class going on. Just about the time I stepped out of the shower stall one of the old guys opened the door and there I was booty naked, soaking wet and looking at a group of well intentioned senior mermaids performing to the theme song of Phantom of the Opera. The guy that opened the door must have been as shocked as I was. I stood there in numbly for what seemed like a good ten minutes but was really a split second, or so I keep telling myself. Actually, they took it very well, a couple of sinister smiles and a chuckle. And to think, I was all choked up about the buffed up crowd. Joke is on me.
When I left I felt great. I had done what I went there to do and survived despite my surprised exposure to a bunch of old naked men. In reality, I had met some pretty cool seniors that made me hope I was still working out when I reach 70.
My eating habits changed today, as well. This was also my first day without whole grain foods. No bread, no pasta, no tortillas, no beer. I don’t know if the pain in my muscles or the bread withdrawals is worse. No one ever promised me it would be easy. But, really?
End of Day 1.