Sunday, January 10, 2010

Broken Resolve

My New Year’s resolutions for 2010 included the following item:
Ride 25 miles per week on bike at gym

Yeah, right.

Back in a (now misty, watercolored) spell when I lived in New England, I rode 50 to 100 miles a week. In a later, now mentally-romanticized phase in Tennessee, I worked part-time and rode 40 miles a week. Some of it was at the gym, and the rest was on a nice stretch of roads in North Clarksville and the “back area of Fort Campbell” that don’t have the lethal roadside drainage ditches I am blessed with in the part of town where I live now. My riding was divided into 10 miles sessions, four times a week. Back then, I had the added luxury and convenience of going to the gym on weekday afternoons.

Back when I first joined the gym I was married and X-Man had a fit, claiming “only vain people workout at gyms.” Recently retired from the Army, he was holding steadfast to his stance that since he no longer needed to exercise as a part of his job, he was “never going to do another sit up or push up again.” He kept that resolve, and his once six-pack abs assumed a more keg-like look and he earned himself prescriptions for high blood pressure and high cholesterol because he believes science exists for a reason, and the reason is so people can be as lazy and neglectful of their bodies as they choose and correct the neglect with a daily dose.

I do not share this philosophy, partly because I hate taking medication and cannot even count on myself to remember to take a daily multivitamin. I would speechify about how I prefer to avoid health problems through fitness and diet but too many people (including my coworkers) know all about my sweet tooth and my chocolate addiction. I try to offset my bad food habits with fitness.

Around four years ago, I was inspired to join the gym after climbing two flights of stairs at my part-time job and spending the next few minutes leaning in a co-worker’s office doorway panting to regain my breath. This was me – the person who always danced, rode bikes, skied, skated and hiked because it was fun – nearly felled by a tiny flight of stairs! I had become a prime example of the concept that just because a person is not overweight, it does not necessarily mean they are healthy. Heck, I nearly threw my back out every time I put a five-pound bag of potatoes into the grocery cart and my shopping was dictated by what I could get into and out of the cart without injury. This was unacceptable to me.

I was no longer a New Englander with access to a variety of dance classes for adults and great biking roads (that don’t require racking a bike and driving a half hour by car first) and proximity to mountains to bike, hike and ski upon. I was living in a town with no sidewalks and where only the hardiest dare to walk on the sidewalk-free streets with 40 mile per hour speed limits, where only the truly motivated are willing to drive across town with a bike on the car rack to ride someplace without five lanes of traffic and no shoulder. I shelled out some cash and joined a gym.

Gyms can be interesting places. My old gym was conveniently located and affordable – a mere $20 a month for a full-time membership which included full access to classes the weight room and cardio equipment any time the place was open. When I started working full-time, it was even on my flight path and I would go after work and sometimes even on my lunch hour. The guilt of passing by the place or sitting in traffic trying to ignore it was a powerful motivator to go. In addition to the many fitness benefits, the place also provided a front row view of behavior that assumed an aspect not unlike a soap opera.

The behavior I refer to was sometimes delivered directly at my feet. I’d be minding my own business and suddenly some dude would be standing in front of me saying, “Hey, you got a boyfriend or a husband?” My “Yes,” which to me indicated I was not available for anything more than idle chit-chat, usually got them even more interested. The next comment, heard more than once, totally floored me the first time. “Cool. So you wanna hook up?” Uh, that would be a NO! Seriously, did that really work? Did any woman ever respond with “Sure, let’s book one of the private tanning rooms and make out right now!” Is that how things work here in the Bible Belt? (Or just at this gym?)

Over the years of my membership (until the place suddenly closed) I watched from my perch on the treadmill or bike, as the same dudes approached girls with regularity. One guy, after chatting with a series of other females there that day, came up to me to say he heard I was a dancer. When I said I had danced ballet, he walked away with a saddened look. Apparently, he was on the hunt for a stripper. (Maybe the mindset there was affected by its location next door to Hooters?) Whatever. It was clear he wasn’t going to waste his time chatting to a ballerina when there might be strippers on site, which was quite fine by me.

But let’s get back to the present.

My new gym is completely different. Nobody invites me to engage in extracurricular relationship activities or even speaks to me there, except for one British lady I chat with in the hallway while we wait for yoga class to start on Saturdays. It’s more expensive, so $25 a month gets me a weekend-only membership good for Fridays after 4:00 through closing time on Sunday. I scaled back from the much pricier full-time membership after the first year when a few months had passed and I hadn’t gone there once during the week, Of course, scarcity breeds desire, and now that I can’t go Monday through Thursday, guess which nights I am free and thinking about the gym? Yeah, you got it.

In any case, my fitness resolution includes riding more mileage because my legs are turning to jelly, but that is probably too much info. Since the year started, I have been to the gym twice – to change out my photography show in the hallway (non workout) and to one yoga class. I haven’t even gone near the bikes.

All day Friday I had every intention of going to the gym after work, but instead, opted to move two bookcases up from the basement, audition them in three different spots in two different rooms and then move one back downstairs again when it didn’t fit anywhere. I also moved some small tables in a feeble attempt to make them more usable and clear a path in the basement for the furnace and duct system installation taking place beginning Monday. (An expensive story for another day.) Then I blew off Saturday’s yoga class for reasons I can’t even recall just one day later. I considered going at night after Wade had gone to work, but instead, I spent six hours parked on the couch playing a game on xbox. You read that correctly - six hours. THAT’s some resolve for ya. Sheesh.

Maybe I should have resolved to NOT work out. Since I made my declaration, the opposite seems to have happened and I’ve been there less than usual. Even now, it’s Sunday, a gym-available day, but the place doesn’t open until noon, by which time I’ll be thinking about other things including lunch. It happens every Sunday – I spend all morning waiting for the place to open, and by the time it does (four hours later) I am on to something else.

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