Thursday, August 16, 2007


Christie and I joined a gym last night, and tonight's our first session. We're meeting with a personal trainer to get acquainted with the machines, form a plan that fits our goals, etc.

I feel good about the decision, but it's a net good feeling, not a whole-hearted one. That's fine. Life's complicated, and there's almost always a downside. But I want to spend a little time thinking about why I'm so nervous.

1. Will Power. The last time I had a gym membership, I used it fairly thoroughly for a couple of months, then stopped going. This one's easy to see around, though. Last time I was going by myself early in the morning, and it's wayyyy too easy to choose staying in bed over going to the gym. This time Christie and I will be going together, and it'll mostly be an evenings thing. I won't be missing out on sleep, I'll be missing out on TV, and that's not much to miss. Heck, I might actually schedule gym time to coincide with some show or another. Maybe Reaper. Or try to be on the treadmill for the evening news. Other preventatives include taking classes and working with a personal trainer.

2. Luxury. This is a nice gym. I mean, a nice gym. Tons of space, plenty of machines and weights (we were there at primetime (6 p.m.) last night, and the parking lot was nearly full, but it didn't feel crowded). Nice views out of every window. Mineral water in the pool. Some people feel spoiled by that kind of thing, and I do, too, but it also leaves me a little uncomfortable. Growing up, the kids I knew that had really nice stuff were generally kind of assholes about it. Or, more accurately, the kids who were the most visible for having nice stuff were the ones who were assholes about it. So I've always sort of associated the one with the other.

Thanks to MBS, the cost for Christie and I to belong at Wilson's is about the same as it was for Carrie and I to belong to Gold's, which comes out to a lot less as a percentage of income, given how broke I was back then. But Wilson's sort of feels like a yuppie gym, and, man, did I hate the yuppies. But having a "Die Yuppie Scum" bumpersticker on your car in the 80's was every bit as much of a calculated pose as anything the yuppies did, and about the only way I'm not a yuppie these days is that I'm not particularly young (not particularly old, either, but I hope you see my point).

I don't have any particular plans on how to get over this one, apart from growing up a little and learning to accept my current lot in life. I expect that the feeling will diminish the first time I see deer browsing outside the window while I'm in a kickboxing class, but if it doesn't, I'll just have to administer mango protein smoothies until I feel the urge to buy a BMW.

3. Self Image. Outside of the gym, I can talk fitness with the best of them. I was a ropes course director for two summers and can still tie my own climbing harness with my eyes closed. I love the feeling of muscles sore from exertion. But drop me into a gym, and I morph back into the kid who got picked second to last in kickball. And basketball. And, well, just about everything else. The only 'sport' I was any good at as a kid was getting into fights on the playground. I feel like I'm intruding on someone else's territory, and any minute now the captain of the football team is going to give me a wedgie and kick me out of the weight room. Which is doubly weird because I knew the captain of the football team when I was in high school, and he wasn't the type. And I was friends with one of the captains of my college football team, and the best way I can think of to tell you that he wasn't the type is to explain that I knew him from Latin class.

I'm starting to think maybe this is some pop culture BS about nerds vs. jocks much more than it's about my actual childhood. (weird segue: Christie and I watched Mind Control with Derren Brown last night, and it triggered a whole mess of thoughts about impressions, memory, and that sort of thing. At one point, he essentially changed someone's memory of the recent past so convincingly that they refused to believe their own handwriting. So it's not a big surprise to me that pop culture memories could trigger stronger feelings than actual memories.)

The key here, I think, is too replace bad information with good information. In some ways, it might actually help that this gym is so different from the dingy cinderblock basements I've always worked out in before (even Gold's, a three story building, managed to feel like a basement. And smell like one.). My goal is to recondition my mind as I recondition my body until I'm as comfortable in the gym as I am in the library, the mall, or walking the streets downtown. This is another area where hiring a personal trainer might help, but we'll see what I can accomplish on my own first.

And now I'm getting excited about this. It's not just about shrinking my gut, it's also about shedding bad mental habits that limit who I am and what I can comfortably do.

It's also about being able to climb a 30-foot Giant's Ladder and have fun doing it.

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