It happened; I finally caved in to my wife and friends who have been harping on my ear for some time now to join a gym and sign my body, if not my soul, over to the guidance of a trainer. My back and shoulder are still not co-operating with my insistence that they act like I’m 20; meaning they used to stop hurting all by themselves after a while. Instead I wake up several times at night and finally in the morning feeling like, well… my wife swears she doesn’t own a bat.
Core strength, they keep telling me. It’s all about training the 100’s of little muscles in places you can’t even see in the mirror to get up off their collective asses and start carrying part of the load; no more free loading on this boat.
Before I could be assigned a trainer I needed to have an “evaluation” so I met with a guy who looks like he’s never met a weight he didn’t like: we’ll call him Mac (as in truck!). He asked me all the typical questions like height, weight, what brand of shoes are those, do you have a favorite exercise, what is your long term goal and what are you willing to do to attain it, what kind of work do you do, what is your daily routine at work and what do you want from me? Now, there was a time, when looking at a man of this size I would answer meekly, in awe of his grandeur… but I’ve been around the block a few times now and I’ve worked in sales long enough to know qualifying questions when I hear them. So I cleared my throat and sat up in my chair and replied… “I used to be 6 foot but all my years of stomping heads into the ground have caused things to settle a bit so, 5’ 11 and some change; It may look like I have a small beach ball on my belly but my years of martial arts training allows me to will it into a rock hard weapon within seconds, but I will admit at 195 pounds I could afford to lose ten; I have no idea what brand, a special at Target, $19.00, because me and my wallet, we have a relationship; No, I don’t like exercise, that’s why I need a trainer; goal? I’ve already told you why I’m here and if you’re reasonable, I’m willing to pay for your staff to torture me; I sell rocks and I spend each day figuring out how to move them without actually lifting them myself; what I really want from you is to stop asking me that question or I won’t even let you have one little sniff of my wallet.”
Once we got all of that out of the way Mac gave me this gizmo and told me to hold it with both hands straight out in front of me. Having no idea what this thing was I began to suspect it was his way of paying me back for being a smart ass, by making me sit in a corner holding what looked like a toddler’s toy. Suddenly it went beep and Mac started writing numbers down with lines and arrows. I guess he was figuring up my BMI (Body Mass Index) but what came to my mind was a saying my father in-law told me years ago… “figures never lie but liars always figure”. I may have to take off all the gloves for this one. After a little while Mac started talking about my body and all its inadequacies in such a way that my head started to bob and my eyes started rolling into the back of my head. Mac clapped his hands… “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to bore you” he said suddenly… “maybe we should do some evaluation exercises. Come on, let’s go have some fun”. Crap! As I wiped the bit of drool from my mouth I thought “I should have paid attention”.
First thing we did in the training area was grab one of those big balls. He did a quick demonstration of the exercise he wanted me to do. In a standing position, hold the ball against the wall with both hands and basically do a pushup. No problem I thought; pushups standing up? – let me at it. I got into position and looked slyly over at Mac and did one push up… My smile betrayed my thought “is this all you got?” Mac just smiled and then happily said “let’s move your feet back now” He took his foot and started lightly kicking my feet… “back he said… back more… even more. There we go, now do another one” Suddenly the ball was filled with nasty, evil, gravitational spirits, all hell bent on making me fall onto the floor in a puddle of failure. Untold numbers of those little muscles that have been free loading all the years in my neck and shoulders suddenly woke up in panic screaming “what the F#%#???”. Mac just grinned as I leaned in for the push. “No that’s not an earth quake, it’s you that’s shaking”. Now the ball had more life than that cartoon Tasmanian devil. I touched my chin to the ball and started pushing my way back up… It was a lot like those scenes in Star Trek where the Enterprise is about to shake apart and Scotty is screaming over the intercom, “Capt’n, I think she’s gonna blow”… Sparks and smoke were bursting in my mind as all the little muscles struggle to keep their balance in a ballet of chaos on the bridge. When I made it back up I looked at Mac in dismay as he smiled and said “Ok, let’s do 9 more”.
After running me through about 10 different variations of this torture involving several seemingly innocuous items like rubber bands, small weights, and a rope, Mac suddenly said “OK, let’s go sit down and talk for a minute”. As I followed him to his desk I struggled to maintain my dignity by walking as straight and smooth as I could. Mac took a moment to turn back and grin again as he blurted “But officer, I swear it was only one drink”… I suddenly veered to the right in a stumble as he started chuckling to himself. As we sat down at his desk he looked up at me and asked “OK, what do you want from me?” I was weak but the hold on my wallet was strong. I struggled to find a way to tell Mac that this relationship was just not going to work out. His motivational technique was effective and he nearly broke me but I just couldn’t see it in a long term sort of way. As the Enterprise bridge in my head lay in a smoking ruin, I tried to pull enough of it together to tactfully break the news to him. That’s when he said “Now, this has been fun but unfortunately my slate is full so I’m going to have to set you up with one of our other trainers”. Slowly he turn and pointed to this nice, fit, young lady who looked up and gave me the most amazing smile as she said “Hi Mister Boyd, it’s very nice to meet you”.
I know, I know… she’s probably going to torture me to no end, and make me feel bad for not trying hard enough, and I will most likely end up in that small puddle of failure at her feet… and I do feel a bit guilty so I will be going home each time to confess to my lovely wife… But I’m old, not dead… I ran to my locker and got my wallet.