Those pretty boys working out in front of the mirror at the gym: they know it. Real athletes don’t care. You and I, the last kids chosen on the humiliating hardpan of elementary school playgrounds, we were blindsided by The Dirty Trick of Physical Fitness. The punishing equation? The more you exercise, the harder you have to work just to maintain your level of fitness. Keep up the same old workout, your body will quietly acclimate. As if exercise wasn’t tough enough, you have to throw frequent surprise parties for your muscle groups. This is wholly unfair.
Keeping fit is a worthy job, but do I have to accept the position full-time? There’s some consolation for late bloomers like me. Most of our moving parts still move, unlike the poor bastards who blew knees in high school sports. A lot of gold medal winners sport titanium badges at my age.
Boy oh boy, I wish they were picking sides for dodgeball now. I admit it: it would be much easier if I enjoyed exercise, which I do not. I much prefer ‘having exercised’ to actually exercising. There are days that I wish I could accost an unemployed person to exercise for me, and others where my body drives me to the gym while my mind yells, “No! Stop!” Still, after a half hour on the elliptical, a rotation around the weight room and a few laps, there’s nothing more pleasant than knowing I won’t have to do this again for 22 hours. My saving grace? Distraction. I’m an inveterate people watcher. Some of my gym buddies have gluts so firm you could bounce a quarter off them, others miraculously tote around girths the size of Herefords, heading to the warm pool at dawn.
Televisions are a great distraction, suspended from high ceilings with arachnoid armatures, disturbingly set to Fox News. These days individual exercise machines know we hate them, so they apologize with little TVs of their own. Real gym rats tote personal entertainment devices complete with black armbands to symbolize the death of human-to-human contact. Ipod Shuffle? Appetizer. Nano? Side dish. Finally, information overload: this 30-gig bad boy, the Thanksgiving Dinner of portable entertainment.
Never mind that that I landed on my keister going down the steps after watching ‘Garden State’ on the elliptical trainer. I had forgotten to take off my eyeglasses after a half hour of staring at a 3” screen and I misjudged a step. If you are looking for me, I’ll be at the gym for an ever-increasing portion of my wakeful hours, understanding that it’s my job to keep fit. Don’t be offended if I don’t look up. I’m trying not to think about it too much. Why couldn’t the Dirty Trick work for food? Then, the more you ate, the more you’d have to consume just to maintain your existing weight. It’s just not fair.