My Gym Diary

© Tadija | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Tadija | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

The Weight Watchers theory is that writing down what you eat can make you lose weight, so I decided to keep a going-to-the-gym-diary to help me get in better shape. Here is what happened my first seven (non-consecutive) days at the gym.

Day 1- Feel That Credit Card Burn

Like most new endeavors, getting in shape takes motivation, determination, commitment, and cold, hard cash. I want to change my life, so buying the “lifetime gym membership”–where I pay $45 a month for the rest of my life, regardless of whether I ever break a sweat–seems like a really good idea.

I’ll also need new shoes, socks, a gym bag, sweats, a heart rate monitor, water bottle, an iPod and a lifetime subscription to “Ahnold Magazine” to get started on my journey.

No wonder all these people are wiping off their equipment with $20 bills. I guess that’s the price you pay to get in shape.

Day 2 – Just Do It

There’s nothing like new shoes to put a spring in my step. I drive the 12 blocks from my house to the gym, then circle around the lot 17 times before parking 3 blocks away. I’m exhausted before I set foot in the door.

I see some moms I know from school and end up chatting for an hour, while I occasionally look appreciatively at the equipment. If you’re at the gym, does that time count as a workout? I decide that it does and feel a little superior as I leave and notice the same three cars from an hour and a half ago still waiting for parking.

Day 3 – Checking Things Out

I go up to the weight room to look around. The grunting, the cyborg noises and the mirrors all bring back horror movie flashbacks and the armpit-vomit smell reminds me of my college dorm. Maybe I’ll try the cardio machines.

I’m still learning to use the equipment, so I peek over at Skinny Sally’s control panel to see what level and program she’s using on the elliptical machine. Of course I’m not very subtle and almost lose my balance trying to crane my neck for a better view. Must be the traction on my new shoes!

She gives me a dirty, sweaty, scary stare and quickly throws her towel over the lit up panel. Meow! It’s not like I was snooping in her purse, and why is it filled with ex-lax and breath mints?

Day 4 – Not Checking Things Out

I can’t stand it any longer. My bladder’s about to burst like a wicked rhinoceros. I force myself to go into the locker room to pee. As I wash my hands, I try to avoid making eye contact with Skinny Sally, who is completely nude except for her hair dryer, and now friendly as can be.

I sit down on a bench to compose myself.

When I look up, there’s a 95-year-old naked woman, Wrinkled Rhonda, two inches away from my face.

Day 5 – Real Time Versus Gym Time

I keep switching treadmills, but they are all defective. There’s no way I’ve only been working out for 17 minutes. It’s been at least an hour. I try to focus on what I’ll write my column about next week. If I’m thinking about work, can I bill for my time? I would call my accountant, but the gym has gotten very strict about enforcing their no cell phone policy on the gym floor and in the locker rooms–and I don’t have an accountant. Earlier today, Wrinkled Rhonda was naked in the hallway, taking a call from her great great great great grandson.

Day 6 – Power Reading

I have an epiphany. If you read while you’re on the treadmill, the time goes by faster. I should be reading War and Peace for my book club, but Bolkonski and Tolstoy are a lot less compelling than finding out what’s going on with Carmen Electra and Joan Jett.

Is reading the “National Enquirer” at the gym the same as reading it in the grocery store? I’m pretty sure that as long as you read it standing up, then it doesn’t have any calories.

Day 7 — Look Out

I’ve discovered something else about reading at the gym. I can’t read with my glasses and I can’t see other people without them. This is good and bad. My sister still hasn’t forgiven me for not recognizing her the other day. Give me a break. She was pretty sweaty, and very blurry.

On the other hand, if I don’t make eye contact with my high school homecoming date over there on the elliptical machine, maybe he won’t recognize me. Of course I’m twice the woman I was back then–hence the gym membership–so there’s no way he’d recognize me.

I remember from theatre arts that if you’re backstage and you can’t see the audience, they can’t see you either. I wonder if this is how it works at the gym? Maybe I should just take off my glasses when I look at the scale and forget about the gym completely.

Originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound March 30, 2007

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