Forgive me for I have sinned: It’s been nearly two months since my last workout.
That was my thought as I entered the gym last week, ready to pay my penance in the company of those who’d kept the faith in my absence. I had my moves planned: enter quickly, cut left and directly into the weight room, bypassing the front desk and the gym’s owner — a possible “confessional” situation.
But of course I couldn’t be that lucky.
“Hey there, Ned!”
I stopped in mid-stride; so close to the pivot that would’ve carried me to freedom. “Hey, Jim,” I said, smiling meekly. Apologetically.
Jim leaned forward on the desk, dressed in his usual sweatpants and T-shirt lightly stained with perspiration after a 50-minute aerobics workout that trimmed his ballooning body fat from .08 down to .05. He looked at me and folded his hands together on the desktop, as if ready to pray for me. “Haven’t seen you for a while.”
My stomach growled, more out of nervousness than hunger, but I played it off in my favor. “Gosh, I’ve just been so busy lately. I didn’t even have time to eat (my second Egg McMuffin) this morning.”
“Well, that’s not good. You definitely need to eat,” he said, eyeing me.
I turned toward him, eliminating the view of my profile. “I know, but I’ll make up for it at lunch. Ha ha!”
I regretted saying that before the “ch” in “lunch” left my mouth; it was like telling your priest that you were going to stop admiring your neighbor’s wife by subscribing to Playboy.
Mercifully, he overlooked my remark, satisfied with the fact that one of his flock had returned. “Well, it’s just good to see you back.”
“Thanks,” I said, and stood there a moment.
Jim smiled, then sat down and reached for the phone.
That was it?
No harangue? No guilt trip? No “Looks like you made it back just in time?”
This was going to be easier than I thought!
Removing my jacket, I hung it on the rack and stretched a bit before climbing onto the butterfly machine: a torture device that, coincidentally, can also develop your pectorals.
I set the weight at what I’d been using eight weeks ago.
How much muscle could’ve been lost in a mere couple of months?
Well, enough that I needed to lighten the load by 10 pounds, it seemed, so I made the adjustment — and a discovery.
Eyes darting, I quickly unhitched another 10 pounds, covering the move with a stretch and a yawn.
Twenty reps should about do it, I thought, bringing my arms together and sending my chest muscles into quivering shock.
The fifth rep caused me to re-evaluate my lofty goal and settle on 15; then on a nice, round number.
No sense in overdoing it my first day back.
Just then, a fitness instructor entered with a small entourage of the newly baptized.
“This is for strengthening and shaping your thighs,” he said, pointing to the first in a row of machines that led to me. As he approached, I could almost hear him say “…and this is where out-of-shape people sit and rest while pretending to work out.”
While he explained the chin-up machine next to me, I slipped the weight up another 20 pounds and heaved my arms together, teeth clenched tightly and the glare of my reddened face reflecting amber off the cream-colored walls. My hope was that they’d move on quickly, allowing me to keep my dignity with the illusion of my obvious devotion to fitness.
Instead, the group hovered there as the instructor explained what I was doing—the intricacies of pectoral development, its importance in relation to posture, the difference between shaping muscle and toning it, why you shouldn’t bang the weights, and how often they change out the cables and grease the pulleys.
Around rep 14, they began to look uncomfortable, as if they feared being in the direct path of my exploding head.
The instructor ushered them to the next machine, glancing over his shoulder at me, a look of concern on his face as he began explaining the benefit of sit-ups. I brought the weights down with a light “clang” and collapsed.
So this was my penance, I thought as I stumbled from the machine and pulled my jacket from the rack, sleeve-first.
However, my real penance didn’t come until the next morning — when I reached for the alarm and woke the family with my screaming.
(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation and a member of the writing team at Long Awkward Pause. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)
45 thoughts on “Things have a way of working out. Unless it involves me and the gym”
Ha! Now that was really funny. Well played, indeed.
If it makes you feel better, sometimes I am compelled to make up elaborate tales to explain my injuries. You get little sympathy if you can’t walk the next day…. because you went bowling. I actually hurt myself fighting real, live dragons. They were big ones, too. 😉
Whose to say you can’t fight dragons with bowling balls?
Don’t feel too bad, Ned… compared to you, I still look like a corpse.
Thanks for the ego boost… I think.
Gotta love the screaming alarm – I assume your wife found your snooze button??
or you could have just said 3 hail mary’s and done 10 wall pushups…
At least you still go occasionally – more than I can say. Ha! You would have laughed Ned when my wife and I were discussing attending a gym on a regular basis. Our 14 year old wandered into the kitchen where we were talking and listened while he was examining the contents of the fridge. He turned to us and said: “Bit late for that, don’t you think?”
Hahahaha! How did he feel after you kicked him out of the house? 😉
I got even – I filled all his beloved yogurt single-serving containers with red jello and he thought he had struck it rich – until he popped the top off one and discovered what was in it. 😀
Paul – liked both your comments. The “bit late for that” cracked me up. Funny as hell.
Well, if you buy that Darth Vader costume I saw you eyeing on FB this morning, the force will be with you. *grin*
Lol! “The Force is strong with this one” could have a whole new meaning. Plus, having a built-in respirator would be great…
Glad you were able to hold your bowels in check. After all, you do have to clean the machine when you are done with it.
You mean when I’m done resting on it?
Ah. That explains the distant screaming I head this morning.
Glad I could put your mind at rest.
The gym’s owner set you up for that, and you didn’t even notice! Had he been kind, he would have given you the third degree, to which you could have responded at length, until finally looking at your watch and saying, “Holy s**t, where’d the time go! Gotta run!”
Damn it! You’re RIGHT! Next time I’m going to let my head explode. That’ll teach him!
Yep! That would be me… Only calf muscles and you walk like a stiff… You can’t walk because you over did the calf raises because you got distracted by some guy straining to impress a crowd of spectators who were newbies and getting a tour… 😁
Thanks for feeling my pain 😉
Aaah yea you sinned indeed! But you are not the only one by far and at least you sucked it up and went back. I started a new routine a month ago, but instead of losing weight I actually gained weight. The reason being that I was doing Pilates, and Pilates should be accompanied with cardio. I just did Pilates and no cardio. So not only was I not able to lose weight but I actually gained some 😦
Don’t take it too hard. Muscle weighs more than fat, that’s all!
Ned, believe me I would love to agree with you on that. But in my case, it is actual flab covering my newly built abs. Thanks to all the post workout gorging. Thanks for the post 🙂
This is exactly why I go walking instead of the gym. A. you can go as far as you want and depending on how hard you push yourself, still get a great workout. B. when you DO go to the gym you can honestly admit, “Oh, I’ve simply been training outdoors for awhile now”, <~~ Always impressive, C. scenery changes so it never gets boring and d. When your exhausted, sore, and moaning that you can't take another step, you realize your ass HAS to get yourself back home on your own cuz no one is going to come pick you up, but you have great bragging rights! 🙂 Woot! There it is! 🙂
I’m just afraid people would say,”Training outdoors for what? A career as a competitive eater?” 😉
That’s why you run from your front door to the nearest body of water. We live in Florence, that’s not too hard. Then inform them that you’ve just run the “hood to coast”. 😉 lol And runners have to keep their carbs up! Ha!
Haha! I’ll just keep a spray bottle handy and say I need maple-bacon donuts for carb intake!
I hate the gym. I used to go religiously. (see what I did there?)
Now I just rely on stress and anguish to keep me fit and trim.
I still have three teens. If stress and anguish were enough to keep me fit and trim I’d have my own fitness show on cable.
This made me laugh out loud, at my desk , at work. I have to block you at work if I want to keep my job. Hilarious!
Yikes! Block me! I wouldn’t want to be the cause of your termination! 😉
It’s Okay Ned, I like your blog better than my job anyway.
I never touch the stuff.
And it shows.
Bawahaha! Been there done that!
I find pretending to work out just as exhausting as not working out at all … it’s quite the balance. (And possibly the only form of balance I have achieved.)
I think we would make great not-actually-working-out partners…
I am soooooooo out of shape. But I started taking a Jazzercize class again this week. It is amazing how dancing a little bit could make me so darn sore! I am going to stick with it though! I don’t want to be an old woman all bent over because I didn’t stay strong.
Good luck with the workouts! 😛
Thanks, Courtney! We’ll both do our best to not be an old bent-over woman!
ha ha ha ha ha!! Good luck with that one too!!! 😛